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Archbishop Bernard Visits Alive Publishing to Celebrate 10th Anniversary of Catholic Today

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The Big Assembly

Over 3,000 children from England, Scotland and Wales attended this event and were representatives of their particular Dioceses. St John Vianney Catholic Primary School were the only school from Coventry to attend as part of the Birmingham Archdiocese contingent.


We left school at 3.50am, stopping for breakfast at motorway services and arriving at Twickenham at 7.20am. The Big Assembly began at about 10.30am and the children spent the intervening hours practising hymns and being interviewed by various television networks. Needless to say, when the Popemobile made its entrance the children were extremely excited. They participated fully in the assembly, having learnt all of the hymns at school and were delighted that all the Catholic schools in the country were watching on a live web feed.  We left Twickenham at 12.30pm and all of the children were treated to lunch before our return to school. We had twenty-one exhausted, but very happy, children and four equally exhausted and happy members of staff who will never forget this wonderful day.

Below are quotes written by the children themselves.

Lydia: I feel now that I am halfway to Jesus.

Jack: It was the best experience I have ever had. Seeing the Popemobile was very exciting.

I felt tired, but happy, because this was the first and maybe the last time I will ever see the Pope.

It was a fantastic feeling to be that close to someone who is the Head of our Catholic religion.

We had learnt all of the hymns for the Big Assembly in school before we went. My favourite was Siyahamba.  

Pearse: I spoke to ITN about the visit. On Sunday I went to the Beatification Mass for John Henry Newman at Cofton Park.

Connor: My once in a lifetime opportunity - what a fantastic day!

To be that close to the Pope was amazing. It truly was a once in a lifetime experience.

Thomas: I love the way that Catholics could unite in this special event.

Joe: I enjoyed seeing the Pope so much that I went back to see him again on a live link at our Church on Sunday.

Bobby: I have never, ever been so close to holiness.

Lucy: I had to be at school by 3.30 am. I was very tired but it was really worth it.  

Maisie: We were so lucky to have our Priest, Father Jonathan, with us. He helped organise our trip with lots of help from Mrs Kantor, our Admin Officer.

Olivia: I felt overwhelmed because I was actually there with other Catholic children from all over the UK. We all got on well together.

Hannah: When I came back I felt holy and much closer to God.

Megan: It was amazing to sing with other Catholic children from England, Scotland and Wales.

Ben: My best moment was when the Pope came on to the stage and blessed us all.

Erin: We were so lucky because we were the only school in Coventry who went to meet the Pope. So really we were representing our city.

Megan: It felt amazing to see the Pope. It is as close as I will ever get to him. It was a bit like meeting royalty, only better, because I am a dedicated Catholic and I was so honoured to be there.

The staff who accompanied the children were: Fr Jonathan Veasey (St John Vianney Parish Priest), Miss McNamara (Headteacher), Mrs MA Jackson (Deputy Headteacher), Mrs Costello (HLTA) and Mrs Hulme (TA).  ■

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