I hope you are well and peace.
I've just returned from a tour of schools in England
where I had the chance to speak to over 5000 young people.
One thing I really enjoy is going back to schools where
I have spoken before and to meet the teachers and see
how they are getting on. A teacher told me that after
a talk I did a couple of years ago, they couldn't find
a particular student, he was known to be a bit of a
troublemaker and had a reputation of being the toughest
kid in the school. They searched everywhere for him and
eventually they found him kneeling down in the Chapel with
one of his mates praying the Rosary using one of the packs
we had given them.
I got an email from one young lad who I gave a book to in
a school, he said he had been struggling in school feeling
a bit lonely and left out by some of the other students who always
seemed more popular, but when he received the book (and he
was the only one that got one) he knew in his heart that
God was saying he was very special to him and never forgotten.
After this he went to confession and experienced God's deep
love for him. He is now going to Mass regularly. It just
reminded me how each one of us needs to feel that we are special
to God and when we do it changes everything for us.
It is such a blessing to see so many good teachers who are
willing to put great effort into getting the students together
for my talks. At one school a teacher brought every kid in the
school over to the local church for two separate talks because
the school simply didn't have a room big enough to take them
all. I'm sure this wasn't easy to arrange and probably didn't
make them very popular with some of the other staff. I have
great admiration for these people and it is a fantastic witness
to me of giving and not counting the cost to ourselves.
At another school, when we asked the headmaster if it would be
possible to put a few more students together, straight away he
went and rounded up students who were doing exams that week,
he knew this wouldn't go down well with some people, but he
said as far as he was concerned Faith was the most important
gift he could pass on to the children in his school. I thank
God for people like him and I believe their reward will be great
Mother Teresa used to say "give until it hurts" and I've witnessed
time and time again when people do that, it is then that God
works real miracles of his grace in and around those who are
prepared to put themselves out.
Some of the emails I have received from the young people I spoke
to have moved me deeply, your heart would go out to them when
you hear the situations some of them are dealing with, one young
lad had been smashed to bits by life and in the depths of this
darkness Jesus had come into his heart and was transforming all
his suffering into something beautiful. He felt a real peace
in his heart and the ability to love despite everything
that had happened to him. He now writes poetry and the poem he
sent to me brought tears to my eyes.
It was a joy to me to have my Godson Stuart with me for many of
the schools and prisons and I know that his testimony made deep a
impact on all who listened to him.
At one of my talks to a confirmation group in London I met a
friend of mine from the old days before I found God. He used
to be involved in football violence when I knew him and I was
amazed to discover that God had completely changed his life.
It was a real blessing for me discussing with him the
similarities of how God had worked in our lives and how God
seems to choose the most unlikely people to do his work.
This week I'm running a Parish mission at Annaduff in Co Leitrim,
Ireland and then I'll be travelling to Paris to speak at a
conference arranged by Jean Vannier the founder of the larch
community, I'm looking forward to meeting him as I've always
loved the work he does.
You are very much in my heart and prayers, please keep me in yours
God bless you in his deep love