OVER 4,000 children representing the 11 Catholic secondary and 76 Catholic primary schools in Lanarkshire gathered at Carfin Grotto on Friday.
They were chosen from the 40,000 Catholic educated youngsters in the county to join together and celebrate the second anniversary of the State Visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom.
During his visit the Pontiff made numerous references to society’s move away from its Christian heritage and last year announced that a Year of Fath would take place.
The Year of Faith runs from October 2012 to November 2013 to ‘rediscover the gift of faith and to seek new ways of proclaiming it – being mindful that faith is not meant to be private, but professed and shared’.
With it due to start next month the event at Carfin also served as a launch for the Pope’s declaration.
Bishop of Motherwell, the Rt Rev Joseph Devine, was the principal celebrant at the festival.
He told the 4,000 students: “The 21st Century is your century, the century you will live your lives and God willing be blessed with a family of your own.
“The century when you will need to defend Christian family values and, if necessary, challenge those in power who would attempt to silence the voice of Christians and usurp their God-given right to live by their Christian conscience.
“The century when our much-loved Christian church is very much alive and thriving having more faithful adherents across the world than at any time in the two thousand years of its history.
“Through you and your peers the Christian Church will continue to be the conscience of our nation and the world, always ready to bear witness to the truth and forever the shining beacon and public witness of the teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”