Youngsters show they are one with persecuted Christians

Bishop John Keenan receives the prayers/messages from Our Lady and St Francis Primary
Bishop John Keenan receives the prayers/messages from Our Lady and St Francis Primary

A crowd of 1,000 school pupils from across Scotland stood in solidarity with persecuted Christians at an event in Carfin Grotto.

Leading the day of prayer at Aid to the Church in Need’s third annual Youth Rally was Bishop of Paisley John Keenan, joined by Bishop of Motherwell Joseph Toal and Father Martin Delaney, youth coordinator for Motherwell Diocese.

Also in attendance were former comedian Father Frankie Mulgrew from the Diocese of Salford and electropop Christian band Ooberfuse.

The theme of the day was #WeAreOne and included prayer, music, a dramatic reading, social media activity and participation from every school in attendance.

Each school was asked to compose two prayers or messages, one each for Syria and Iraq. The prayers/messages will be given to bishops in those countries to be viewed in their communities.

Bishop Toal said: “The suffering of Christians today fits in well with Christ’s suffering, it should be an inspiration to us we don’t have to go through the same pain and suffering that other Christians are.

“It was nice to see so many youngsters here on the day, they need to realise that there is a lot of pain and suffering in the world. Sometimes it can be far away, but sometimes it can be very close to us, as happened in Manchester recently.

“We need to support these people and be with them in some way. We need to keep them in our prayers and try to understand their pain and suffering.

“The work of ACN is very important, it is even raising my own awareness of what is going on in our world.

“It is good for us to understand that message and have the opportunity to show solidarity with these people who are less fortunate than us.”

Bishop Keenan, a member of ACN’s advisory board in Scotland, believes more should be done to support the charity.

He said: “Aid to the Church in Need should be up there with the likes of Mary’s Meals in the mind of the Catholic Church in Scotland.

“Mary’s Meals helps Christians in different parts of the world where people are starving and affected by a lack of education.

“But in the same parts of the world, and other parts of the world, people are suffering from violence and don’t have human rights, so both of those groups need the same kind of help.

“The idea of #WeAreOne really brings that message home. We can’t be saying that just because people live far away that they are not our brothers and sisters.”