Address of Bishop Nulty at the National Day of Prayer for Children held in the Cathedral of the Assumption, Carlow.

We gather in great numbers here in the Cathedral of the Assumption, Carlow.  I welcome all who join us through the live stream facilitated by iCatholic. I thank Julieann Moran and the team from the Society of Missionary Children and Maeve Mahon and our Kildare & Leighlin Diocesan Faith Development Services Team who have put great effort and planning into today’s celebration of joy.

One hundred years ago on this very day, three children, Lucia, aged 10, and her cousins Francisco, aged 9, and the youngest Jacinta, aged 7, witnessed the final Fatima Apparition, which included Our Lady telling them in the presence of 70,000 people that she was the ‘Lady of the Rosary’; she confirmed all these facts by the miracle of the sun.

A central feature of our celebration in this October Mission Month is the multi-coloured pair of Rosary Beads, in the sanctuary space of the Cathedral.  Green representing Africa; Red representing the Americas; White representing Europe, Blue representing Oceania and Yellow representing Asia. In praying the Rosary in our classroom, at home, with our families we have the opportunity of remembering children in these continents a lot less fortunate than ourselves.  This is what Mission is about; the Rosary is the axis on which the month of October spins.

I’m told there are over 700 children and young people physically present in the Cathedral this morning.  They represent the family of schools in our Diocese.  There are 2,800 Catholic Primary Schools right across Ireland, and 350 secondary schools under the Catholic ethos – many of them joining in this live stream today.  The sixteen-year-old educational activist Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan addressing the UN Youth Assembly said: “one child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world”.  We are privileged to live in a society and a world that values education, let us in this month of October support through our prayer and fundraising the parts of our world where children so badly need the opportunity education offers.

In exactly 311 days we begin the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, and hopefully we will be joined by the one who gifted the World Meeting event to Ireland – Pope Francis.  It is a meeting that celebrates family; family means so much to all of us.  Let us reach out from the Cathedral in Carlow this morning with our message of Joy as we later release balloons in the Rosary Mission colours at the end of today’s ceremony.  In speaking with Jesuit schoolchildren sometime back Pope Francis reminded them that education is like learning to walk – one foot firmly anchoring us on the ground, the second taking the risk of landing in a new space.

The tenth anniversary is known as a tin or aluminium celebration.  It would be remiss of me not to applaud the many schools who have helped the missions in their work over the past ten years.  For special mention in Kildare & Leighlin Diocese I single out Saint Evin’s in Monasterevin and Kildare Town Community School.  I thank Julieann and the team around her for keeping the mission flame alive for children at home and around our world.

ENDS