Hundreds of thousands of Catholic school children will be taking part in the Pope’s address to young Catholics remotely, thanks to the internet.
Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham said that school children from Catholic schools around the country would be taking part in the “Big Assembly” that will take place at St Mary’s Twickenham.
Discussing the ways in which the faithful could participate in papal events when they were not able to get tickets, Archbishop Longley explained that pupils in Catholic schools would be able to follow the Holy Father addressing education.
A spokeswoman for the Catholic Education Service confirmed the plans. She said that the CES was talking to parents, governors and teachers in schools in order to encourage them to prepare pupils for the event. She also said that they were urging schools to celebrate the Pope’s education event within the community together with parents, governors and “even parishioners”.
Most schools will be already be back for the new academic year during the Pope’s visit to Britain from September 16 to 19. He will address 3,000 school children in person at the Twickenham event, which takes place on the second day of his visit.
The link will be via the papal visit site live-feed. Although plans had been discussed for schools across the country to be linked via interactive whiteboards to the event at St Mary’s University, which would be broadcast live, the spokeswoman said that this could not yet be confirmed. She said organisers were still in negotiations over live-broadcasts.
When asked whether the papal visit would be followed in non-Catholic schools, the spokeswoman said: “Of course the event is primarily of interest to pupils of Catholic Schools, but if other schools were interested and wanted to follow, that would of course be fantastic.”
Pope Benedict is expected to address the subject of Catholic education and is expected to bless all the school children in England and Wales for the beginning of the academic year. Organisers are emphasising Cardinal John Henry Newman’s educational vision as part of the event, tying it back to Newman’s beatification, which is the highlight of the Holy Father’s trip to Britain.
The theme of the event comes from the Gospel of St John, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full”. Pupils in schools have been urged to submit school projects, drawings, collages or paintings that will be used to create the set and the backdrop for the event. These can be photos from school sports day, paintings from art classes, drawings. The images should reflect four different subjects: sports, friendship, community and faith. School children in between the ages of 5 to 18 in full-time education have to August 6 to submit their “big, bold, happy” images. For more information follow this link.