Pope John Paul II Awards Info

Welcome to The Pope John Paul II Awards

The Pope John Paul II Award is dedicated to the memory of the late Pope John Paul II whose love of young people was so profound. The Award was launched by the Papal Nuncio to Ireland His Excellency Most Rev Dr Giuseppe Lazzarotto on 7th November 2006 in the Diocese of Derry, Ireland.

If you are aged between 16 and 18 and living or going to school in participating Dioceses, the Pope John Paul II Award will enable you to become more actively involved in the life of your parish and community. Religion is not just for learning, nor a list of rules designed to stop you doing what you want. Religion is for living and through taking an active part in your church and community you will experience the contentment and fulfilment that comes from serving others, especially those in great need.

As well as the feeling of personal achievement that you will gain from taking part in the award, participation will help to show future employers and educators that you are a young person who can make an ongoing commitment to a task. The award is non-competitive, flexible and voluntary.

The patron of the Award is the Bishop of Derry, Most Rev Dr Séamus Hegarty. Bishop Hegarty says: “the purpose of this initiative, ‘The Pope John Paul II Award’ is to enable young people to live their faith and to witness to that faith lived out in the parish community”.

Pope Benedict XVI said to all the Bishops of Ireland on Saturday 28th October 2006 – “even if Christian commitment is considered unfashionable in some circles, there is a real spiritual hunger and a generous desire to serve others among the young people of Ireland”.

About the Award

The Award was created to commemorate the late Pope John Paul II who was so committed to young people and who had such belief and confidence in them.

Through the Pope John Paul II Award, young people will be enabled to take an active part in the life of their Church, in the life of their community and society and also become more aware of the teaching and role of the Catholic Church in the world. This will enable young people to engage at a deep level with Christ, whose body the Church is.

It will allow young people to understand that religion and faith is not just for learning, nor is it a list of rules, but that it is for living.

Who is the Award for?

  • Students in Year 13 in Northern Ireland
  • Students in 4th Year in Republic of Ireland
  • Students in full-time education who have completed GCSEs or Junior Certificate
  • Students in Transition Year
  • Anyone between the age of 16 and 18, not in post-primary education
  • The award is non-competitive, flexible and voluntary and requires an ongoing commitment

How many Awards are there?

There are four Awards: The Papal Cross, Gold, Silver and Bronze.

How do I enrol in the Award?

Download an application form from the site. You should then return the completed form with the enrolment fee to your Award leader in your school/parish.

Is there an enrolment fee?

Yes, there is an enrolment fee. Please refer to your Award leader.

What is the completion time?

16 months beginning in September.

What exactly do I do to earn an Award?

You earn your Award by taking part in activities through Parish Involvement and Social Awareness, and preparation of Presentation.

What happens next?

When your enrolment is processed you will receive your Record Card from your Award leader. You will decide with your Award leader what activity or activities you intend to carry out under the sections ‘Parish Involvement’ and ‘Social Awareness’. Please be sure that the named facilitator signs your Record Card each time. The presentation is to be completed at the end of the tasks.

How do I claim my Award?

On completion of the hours and the presentation, you should return your Record Card and presentation to the Award leader. These are ratified by the school principal and forwarded to the Pope John Paul II Award Committee.

How do Schools and Parishes Enrol?

If your school or parish has not enrolled, you should ask a representative to contact the Central Office at: 
Derry Diocesan Catechetical Centre 
Telephone: 028 7126 4087 (from Republic of Ireland: 00 44 28 7126 4087) 
or email: admin@thepopejohnpauliiaward.com

Parish Involvement

When we are baptised we become members of the Body of Christ. This means that we are called to be the presence of Christ in the world. As the Body of Christ, we belong to the community of the Church. We live out this belonging in our parish. For the Church, for the Body of Christ to be fully alive everybody needs to be actively involved. There are many things we can do in our parish.

Examples of activities in the parish that can be done for the Award are:

  • Reading at Mass
  • Altar Server
  • Eucharistic Minister
  • Member of choir/folk group
  • Church decoration
  • Collector
  • Composing prayers of the faithful
  • Preparing articles for the parish bulletin
  • There may be other activities that you are involved in that are not included here but may be relevant, if so please contact the Pope John Paul II Award Committee for approval.

Social Awareness

As members of the Body of Christ, through baptism, we make Christ present by the way we treat others. Our faith is lived out most fully in our actions, that is why it is important to be aware of the needs of others and to minister to their needs. That is why ‘Social Awareness’ is such an important aspect of this Award.

Examples of activities in the area of Social Awareness that you could do for your Award are:

  • Member of St. Vincent de Paul
  • Spread
  • Faith and Light
  • Working in a youth club
  • Ongoing fundraising
  • Regular visitation of residential homes
  • Faith Friends
  • There may be other activities that you are involved in that are not included here but may be relevant, if so please contact the Pope John Paul II Award Committee for approval.

Award Top-Ups

Award Top-Ups are given in recognition of the extra activities that young people are already involved in. Top-Ups will go towards the total number of hours an individual has to complete.

Top-Ups can be achieved in a number of ways, for example – helping with the sick pilgrims at Lourdes or working on behalf of Children in Crossfire. These activities will gain participants Award Top-Ups:
 Papal Cross: 7.5 hours;
 Gold: 6 hours;
 Silver: 4.5 hours; 
Bronze: 3 hours.

There may be other activities that you are involved in that are not included here but may be relevant, if so please contact the Pope John Paul II Award Committee for approval. Participating Diocese may also have suggestions.

Preparing the Presentation

When the participant completes the Parish Involvement and the Social Awareness sections of the Award he/she prepares a presentation. This presentation may be written (approx 1500 words) or through an interview (interview conducted by the Award leader, recorded, then transcribed).

The Presentation is to include:

  • An answer to the question – What does it mean to be a baptised member of the Church?
  • A personal reflection and evaluation on your parish involvement and social awareness work
  • Your reflection on how the teachings of Christ are relevant to your chosen activities
  • Conclusion

Through the Presentation, the participant will show a knowledge and understanding of what they did within the context of the Church. Their role within the Church will become more apparent. Click here to download a copy of the presentation guidelines.


The video below is an inspirational speech by Kieran McGeeney, GAA All Ireland and 3 All Star winner, at the launch of the Pope John Paul II Award in the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin – 19th October 2009.

Participants Code of Ethics

The Pope John Paul II Award values and encourages the participation of young people in activities which allow them to live their faith in Jesus Christ in the community of the Church. The Award is committed to helping young people enhance their spiritual, physical, emotional and social development through participation in school, parish and community activities.

In keeping with this ethos, the Award has drawn up a Code of Ethics for all participants. Participants will:

  • Abide by the policies and procedures already in place in their schools, community groups where the Award activities will take place
  • Seek signed consent from parents/guardians to participate in activities and events associated with the Award
  • Treat people with courtesy, dignity and respect
  • Avoid inappropriate language and/or sexually suggestive comments/jokes
  • Not engage in any behaviour that could be construed as bullying or abusive
  • Not engage in any inappropriate physical contact
  • Respect a persons right to privacy
  • Act with particular care if visiting residential homes
  • Abide by arrangements and procedures for participating in and leaving activities, events and venues
  • Act according to directions and regulations when carrying out fundraising activities for charities
  • Report immediately to the school leader or designated child protection person for the Derry Diocesan Catechetical Centre if they have any concerns about their own safety and well-being, or that of another participant
  • Sign up to the Code of Behaviour before beginning the Award

Smoking will not be permitted whilst engaged in activities associated with the Pope John Paul II Award.

Participants found to be under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances during activities will be asked to withdraw immediately from the Award and their continued participation will be reviewed in consultation with their school.

Ossory Diocesan Office James’s Street, Kilkenny Tel: 056-7762448 Fax: 056-7763753 E-mail: bishop@ossory.ie