In Catholic primary schools pupils are normally enrolled by the school to work towards the Pope Francis Faith Award, commencing in Primary 6 and completing the award in Primary 7. This decision should be taken after consultation with the parish priest.
In Catholic secondary schools, young people in their final year of secondary school are normally invited by teachers to participate in the Caritas Award. For most, this will be the ‘normal’ form of enrolment. However, where no Catholic secondary school is available in an area, parishes are encouraged to enrol young people for the award.
The parish may have some young people who are already involved in various parish activities through which they show a real faith commitment. Both Award schemes are designed to promote and recognise active faith witness. They are also designed to help young people to be more committed to their faith and to engage actively with the parish community. While some young people may not be regular attenders at Mass, it is hoped that these schemes will help them to see how on-going participation in parish life can enrich their lives.
Some practical steps for a parish priest to take:
- You may wish to appoint a parishioner as a co-ordinator or contact point for the school(s). This job could include liaising with schools, meeting with the young people, monitoring their progress, reporting to clergy, parish council etc.
- Speak to any parish groups (eg., SVDP) about how they might encourage these young people to become involved in their work.
- Think about any particular parish needs to which young people might bring their particular energy and talents – working with young people, music ministry, liturgy, parish website etc.
- Anticipate approaches from young parishioners who may approach you directly or from your local school. Be ready to respond to these positively.
- Discuss with clergy from local parishes what range of opportunities might be provided across parishes in the area.
- Consider how you might support the spiritual development of these young people in conjunction with the school chaplain.
Parish priests are asked to:
- lead a short enrolment service in the parish
- encourage young parishioners by endorsing the faith actions which they will choose
- appoint a parish co-ordinator for the Faith Award
- encourage parishioners to support the young people involved
- ensure the monitoring of faith actions undertaken in the parish
- follow guidance from SCES on awarding Parish Commendations.