“Learn from our mistakes”, Cardinal Tagle tells young pilgrims

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila offered a challenge to young pilgrims at World Youth Day (22-27 January 2019). Hundreds of thousands of young pilgrims had gathered in Panama, many of whom from the small Central American countries nearby.


“If the world that we elders have left to you is not as just, as loving, as peaceful as you would like, learn from our mistakes. You don’t need to follow our bad examples; learn from our good examples!” he said.

The remarks came after hundreds of young volunteers donned wireless headphones as part of a ‘silent play’ exploring Pope Francis’ vision of the culture of encounter and Caritas’ global Share the Journey campaign. Each was encouraged to meet a new person and explore their lives and losses, joys and hopes – all in complete silence.

The event ended with a Share the Journey walk through the centre of Panama City to greet the Holy Father as he passed pilgrims in the Popemobile. Hundreds of young people shouted, sang and took selfies along the route, to the bemusement of local onlookers.

Pilgrims from more than twenty countries across all regions of the world came together for the afternoon and the closing session was standing room only at the historic Teatro Anits Villalaz as young people squeezed to hear about migration from Irene, a young Nicaraguan refugee and Jorge, a young campesino from Panama.

Migrants are “human bridges between countries”, Cardinal Tagle reflected. “Do not let prejudice based on ignorance, based on information that lacks evidence to create fear in us.”

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Instead we should, “meet a migrant – that’s the way to overcome fear – meet a real person, just like you, and then the fear disappears!”

It is understandable that people in host countries should feel fearful, said Irene, but to overcome the fear of the migrant, we must “look to their humanity” and recognise their rights. “We need to speak about migrants and not exclude them or treat them as if their rights are not important”.

“Being part of this gathering, of Caritas, helping the migrant and the environment, we put in our drop of water to form an ocean, little by little we will change the world,” said Jorge.

“We feel pain and joy, and have rights the same as everyone,” said Irene, “people need to acknowledge us migrants – we are differently equal.”


Reflection from Daniel Hale Million Minutes Trustee and Head of Campaigns at CAFOD (Caritas England and Wales).


Nominations Open for Celebrating Young People Awards 2019

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Nominations are now open for the fourth Celebrating Young People Awards. The awards –powered by Catholic charity Million Minutes – honour the achievements of young people across the country who make our communities a better place. There are eight award categories, which take their names from Catholic social teaching and recognise the enormous, often unseen, social action of young people.

Parishes, schools and individuals are being invited to nominate young people. If you know an unsung hero or heroine or a group that have worked together to help their community, put them forward for an award now at www.millionminutes.org/awards.  

The award nominees will be invited to attend a special ceremony in London’s West End in July. Cardinal Vincent Nichols will be the guest of honour and present the Pope Francis Award to one lucky young person.

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Last year’s Pope Francis recipient was Aaron Omotosho (aged 18) from Loreto College, Manchester. Aaron founded the Help Manchester project which encourages young people locally to support day centres that feed and shelter homeless people each day. He also set up a computing project, Console Code, for underprivileged young people in North Manchester. Aaron has an extraordinary and generous approach to life. For example, he personally helped a refugee with no friends or family in the UK, whom Aaron met him in the library. Acting as a friend, Aaron has given the man invaluable physical and emotional support.

His college chaplain said “Aaron is quite unique as all of this is entirely his own initiative, and he has truly changed people’s lives. Aaron really, genuinely cares about those living in poverty and making their voices heard.” Most people will never know how generous, compassionate and loving Aaron is and has been, but receiving the Pope Francis award shed some light on his fantastic work.

Danny Curtin, CEO of Million Minutes said, “Across the country young people are changing our world in quiet and unassuming ways-week in and week out. It is young people like Aaron who inspire the rest of us to live out social action in our communities. Young people get an increasing amount of stick in the media and wider society, but their energy and commitment is so often inspirational. To our Adult & Young leaders reading, this is your call to action: nominate a young person or group you know for a Celebrating Young Peoples Award today.”