Pope Francis Award Program with a difference

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Pope Francis students and siblings with Fr Victor.
Pope Francis students and siblings with Fr Victor.

By Angela Mills

On the last Sunday of each month a group of Year 7 students come together at St Augustine’s Church in Balmain united by their faith and friendship.

The students who are now at different Catholic high schools all over Sydney were part of the Pope Francis Award program last year at Fr John Therry School.

They actively participated in serving their school and parish and found creative ways to serve last year despite the pandemic being an obstacle.

““it’s a great opportunity to connect with friends that you might not see very often after primary school and it’s wonderful to know that our group is contributing to the community while still having fun and making memories with people.”

Bonded by this experiencing of serving their community they now come together at the 5pm Mass on the last Sunday of each month. Joined by their parents and siblings, they take part in all aspects of the liturgy of the Mass.

Asked what makes them continue with the Pope Francis group, Sophie Murphy replied, “it’s a great opportunity to connect with friends that you might not see very often after primary school and it’s wonderful to know that our group is contributing to the community while still having fun and making memories with people.”

Tilly and her mum reading at Mass, left, and siblings of the Pope Francis students and current students of Fr John Therry School welcoming at Mass.
Tilly and her mum reading at Mass, left, and siblings of the Pope Francis students and current students of Fr John Therry School welcoming at Mass.

Alexander Sillato said that his relationship with God has been strengthened through this group.

“I’m inspired by the people in this group. They are everything. They are very caring and show compassion to each other. They make me want to come and join in and because of them it then becomes a habit of going to Mass.”

“On a practical level it’s wonderful to keep connected with other parents and support one another …”

After each Mass all the families come together to share a meal at the local pub. As one parent shares, “We book out the entire upstairs room and it quickly fills with chatter and laughter.

On a practical level it’s wonderful to keep connected with other parents and support one another as we navigate the next stage of our parenting journey – teenagers!”

All the parents are so grateful for the opportunity for their children to continue to grow their friendships, to have fun together and to develop their faith and compassion for community.

Angela Mills is the Family Educator at Father John Therry Catholic Primary School in Balmain.