It started last September when I met with the other young people of the Focolare from all over Ireland to make the run4unity promotional DVD. The Run4Unity is a worldwide relay race that passes on a virtual baton from time zone to time zone to cover the whole globe with a rainbow of peace and universal brotherhood. It links together youth all over the world who believe change is possible, firstly by starting with themselves.
In Ireland the preparation for the Run4unity happens in collaboration with the International Eucharistic Congress 2012. The national Run4Unity in Ireland is being held in the Stormont Estate, Belfast on Saturday, 12th of May 2012, from 1pm-4.30pm.
When we had the DVD ready, I took it back to my school and went to see the principal. She was very impressed with it. She suggested showing it to my form class to see if they were interested.
When we watched it I didn't tell anyone that I would be in it, but I really looked forward to seeing their reactions. And I must say I was really surprised about their reactions. I wasn’t expecting anyone to come out and say anything positive about the DVD. However, within minutes I got the feeling that they got the message and wanted to have some part in the run4unity. Their reactions gave me more confidence.
Time passed and I realized I had to do something about getting people involved. I met up with my principal again and she was very enthusiastic. We came up with a plan - to try to involve the whole school in someway with the run4unity project. We hoped to get pupils involved in groups working on different elements:
· the practical preparation;
· embracing the lifestyle of the ‘maths symbols’;
· and finally a group to embrace the lifestyle AND the practical aspects. (We hoped this 3rd group would be the biggest!)
We then talked about how the Run4Unity puts into practise the ethos of our school – Cross and Passion College - that comes from the gospel. However, after this meeting with our principal, this message needed to spread throughout the school. So, with the help of several teachers, we planned how to explain the lifestyle of the maths symbols.
We planned assemblies in which my year group of 130 people would be informed and encouraged to live out the lifestyle of the maths symbols. In effect they were being asked or challenged to live out God's word. The Run4Unity project also provides the opportunity to raise sponsorship money to help educate children of our own age group in disadvantaged countries. Our Run4Unity sponsorship money will go to the Rainbow school in Uganda: www.school-mates.org
I spoke at assembly over a one week period - so everyone heard about the project. This was followed up with other sessions about the maths symbols.
In recent weeks the corridors of the school have really come to life with posters about the event and the display of the various maths symbols. This has given the chance for people in my school to see that the gospel is still alive. It provides an opportunity, to us as young people, to strengthen our faith. And it allows us to do something together to put the values of our own school into practice.
Now my music teacher is writing a song about the maths symbols. Our school choir will come to the Run4Unity in Stormont - to sing! In different ways, this run4unity is developing into something special.
Conleth Burns, (14 years)
Armoy, Northern Ireland
Mrs Barbara Ward, principal of cross and Passion College in Ballycastle writes:‘Run4Unity’ has taken on a life of it’s own in Cross and Passion College, Ballycastle. Deeply inspired by the memory of Dr Mary Burns, our former Chair of Governors, pupils, staff, and friends of the school are enthusiastically embracing this project as a tribute to her. Mary has a very special place in the hearts of all of us here in Cross and Passion. She supported and embraced all aspects of life in our school. During her illness Mary and I discussed how we might reach out to the young people in our school community in a way which would encourage their spiritual and faith development. Mary was convinced that providing young people with ‘life giving experiences of sharing, thinking and doing’ would inspire them to see and feel the love of God in their lives. In the same conversation, I asked Mary to tell me more about ‘Focalare’ and so, the seeds of Cross and Passion’s participation in Run4Unity were sown.
Conleth, Mary’s son who is a Year 10 student in Cross and Passion is leading from the front with Run4Unity. I really hope that this work in school will enrich the lives of our pupils in ways which Mary would be very pleased with.