Can you believe it? Summer is over and school is about to commence. While we were all taking a well-deserved break, events took place across the Catholic world.
Love – caritas – is and extraordinary force…
– Pope Benedict XVI, 2010
For the past 60 years, the Catholic Church has demonstrated its values and spread the word of God through Caritas; a volunteer-run charity founded on the basis of helping others in times of need. Through the Church, Caritas reaches out to the poor, vulnerable, and excluded in society all around the world in their mission to end poverty and to build a better life for everyone.
On his 2010 visit to Bellahouston Park, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed to tens of thousands of pilgrims:
“Dear young people, the Church depends on you. She needs your lively faith, your creative charity, and the energy of you hope.”
And so, the Caritas Award was born.
The Caritas Award gives young people – mostly aged 17/18 – the chance to practice their faith through volunteering in both the church and within their school communities. To attain the award, each young person must complete 20 hours of voluntary work in school and 20 hours through their local parish.
The 4 Roman Catholic Churches in East Kilbride work with our S6 pupils every year to them achieving the award. Over the years our pupils have become active members of their parish thanks to the Caritas Award, with their involvement ranging from participation in the Children’s Liturgy to accompanying the parish priest on visits to nearby prisons.
Over the years, opportunities for volunteering in school have included:
Paired Reading – where S6 pupils are offered the chance to give up 10 minutes of they morning in order to read along with an S1 pupil on the school and develop the reading ability and seriously impact their life.
Packing pencil cases for the “WildHearts Foundation”, a charity that supplies families in third world countries with the financial support they need in order for their business to prosper.
And finally: Class Tutoring. This opportunity is available to any S6 pupil who has attained a Higher Level Pass in a subject that interests them. By giving up an hour of their week, S6 pupils involved in Class Tutoring help the younger school during normal class times with any questions that they may have regarding their schoolwork.
When so many young people have diverted from their faith, the experiences that this award offers such as working with younger children in the school and contributing in their own parish allows them to return to the values that they were brought up with. Caritas shows younger parishioners that they are welcome and valued members in both the church and in our schools.
Perhaps the Caritas Award offers the hope that we need to rekindle our faith and redeem the future of our religion. After all, the church needs us.