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St Mary's University

St Mary's Chancellor Cardinal Vincent Nichols to Present Inaugural Pope Francis Award

Exterior of the University Chapel

Outstanding social action by young people will be recognised tonight at the inaugural Celebrating Young People Awards.

The awards, supported by St Mary’s University, Twickenham bring together leading voluntary organisations and figures from the Catholic Church to recognise young people and youth workers whose contribution reflects the values of Catholic social teaching.

In an award ceremony at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Chancellor of St Mary's and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, and Baroness Hollins, former President of the British Medical Association (BMA) and member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, will award prizes to young people who are making a positive difference in their local and global communities.

The awards are intended to inspire other young people as well as to reflect on how Catholic social teaching is being lived out, and how we can all embrace the guidelines which it promotes. The awards also aim to recognise and celebrate those young people who are living out the social teaching of the Church every day, recognising the inherent dignity of every person. They have been organised and promoted by Million Minutes, a charity helps young people to transform their lives and put Catholic social teaching into practice.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, said, “These awards are an excellent initiative. I am pleased to support this celebration of the valuable contribution young people make to our world. The awards will, I am sure, inspire many more young people to put their faith into practice as missionary disciples – which is exactly what Pope Francis encourages them to be.”

Baroness Hollins said, “In a society that often overlooks young people, we need to take time to celebrate them. We can’t award everyone, but we are celebrating everyone. Those receiving awards are doing so on behalf of the many others working with a similar passion and commitment to build a more just and peaceful world – a world where all of God’s creation, including all people, can flourish.”

Francis Campbell, Vice-Chancellor of St Mary’s, said, “I am delighted that St Mary’s is supporting this valuable event and congratulate the young people on their well-deserved awards. All the nominees tonight are an inspiration and show how the timeless principles of Catholic social teaching remain relevant in homes and communities across Britain and the world. They are bringing light and hope to those who need it most, and St Mary’s is proud to support Million Minutes and those committed to fostering the best of Catholic social teaching”.

Prize categories include the Dorothy Day Award for fostering community and participation, the CYMFed Award for inspiring youth worker of the year, the Jimmy Mizen Award for promoting solidarity and peace and the Pope Francis award for overall outstanding young person. Another prize that will be bestowed is the St Josephine Bakhita Award for celebrating human dignity.

The Bakhita Centre for Applied Research in Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery is due to launch later this year at St Mary’s with the support of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, as well as other charities that support victims of human trafficking. Award winners will receive support to develop their projects, including mentoring, in-kind donations, and partner work to develop their commitment to social action.

The Pope Francis award recipient will be taken on a trip to Argentina, following in the footsteps of Pope Francis, to gain new leadership experience.  

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