In this week’s blog, Fr. Paddy talks about the recent beatification of Chiara Luce Badano.

Fr. Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist papers.
This column appeared in the edition published October 12 2010.

In a time when many in our communities are burdened and disillusioned, I find great personal hope spending time with young people. Recently I celebrated a Mass with five hundred young people. The occasion was marked with a real sense of optimism, hope and embracing new possible opportunities. Young people possess an innate confidence, fuelled by hopeful optimism regarding their futures.  They are the living green shoots and signs of new life especially in our faith community. In our parish of Bagenalstown, many adults have affirmed young teenagers who engage in Eucharistic Ministry. Being involved in the church is not just the job of the middle aged and elderly. We need to actively embrace and connect with faith filled young people who are present in all our communities.

Pope Benedict XV1 recently beatified a young person Chiara Luce Badano. She died of Terminal Cancer at the age of 19 in 1990. Twenty years later Chiara Luce is a light of hope to young people throughout the world. The Pope said “The church gives thanks to the divine trinity for her life of charity and kindness. Chiara Badano, a modern and cheerful girl, who loved sports, playing with her friends, dancing at discos conveys a message of optimism and hope. Even today, young people can be holy, yes even today.” In her short time on earth Chiara Badano lived a life of great love and holiness.  Chiara’s story cannot help but touch all who hears it.

Chiara is a shining reminder that Saints do exist in modern day. Her story begins with her birth in the town of Sassello, Italy. Her parents had tried to conceive for 11 years before they were blessed with their new baby girl. She is described by those who knew her as an abundantly kind and giving person with a deep devotion to Jesus. She joined the Focolare Movement in her teens. A movement that embraces the Spirit of God in an active and progressive way. The founder of this movement, Chiara Lubich, gave her the nickname Chiara ‘Luce’ meaning light. She was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 17.  She accepted her illness with grace saying that if this is what Jesus wanted, then she wanted it too. She died in 1990 at the age of 19. Her cause for sainthood began in 1999. Now just 20 years after her death, Chiara Luce Badano has been declared Blessed.

One of her great statements as she battled with terminal illness was “God Gives me Hope” Hope is that which allows us to continue. Hope that all will be well. So many young people at this time are greatly crippled by the confines of this recession. Thousands have had to emigrate to far off shores in search of new opportunity. Yet we must never underestimate the resilience and fantastic potential that is planted in the many gifts and talents of our new generation. Every generation is a new continent for Christ. This is a defining moment in all our lives. We cannot just be defined by our limitations. Surely this is a time to embrace the courageous enthusiasm of so many good people in all our communities. Blessed Chiara once said, “Looking at my neighbour I see the face of Christ”.