The Primate of All-Ireland has offered words of encouragement to young people who were preparing to leave secondary education before the coronavirus ‘gatecrashed’ their ‘important and special year’ and has urged them to ‘hold on to hope’.
Offering his thoughts and prayers to Leaving Cert and A-Level students at this particularly difficult time, the Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, recognised that for many of them the pandemic has resulted in a lot of uncertainty as they move towards such an important moment in their education.
While A-levels due to take place in the summer have been cancelled, there are plans for Leaving Cert exams to go ahead in late July, subject to public health advice.
In an open letter to the young people, the archbishop pointed out that the Covid-19 crisis has ‘turned our world upside down and everywhere it has brought feelings of isolation, anxiety and helplessness’.
He acknowledged that it had interrupted many plans, including weddings, First Communions and Confirmations, as well as travel and holidays.
Addressing the young people’s concerns over their education he added: ’For you, it has gatecrashed what is such an important and special year in your lives, and it has left you wondering: what happens next?’
The archbishop revealed that in recent weeks he has been speaking with young people over the phone and has received letters and emails asking him to remember them in his Masses and Rosaries.
‘I know that, for many of you, the uncertainty of this year has been hard to cope with,’ he said.
However, the archbishop recognised that amid all of this uncertainty and anxiety over the future of their education, many of these young people have been supporting those who need it most.
‘The virus has not destroyed goodness and love,’ he said. ‘Our response to it has actually brought out the very best in so many people.
‘I have seen first hand the amazing voluntary efforts that you and many others have been making to reach out to the elderly and marginalised, and to spread a message of hope for a better and brighter future.’
‘And that is my message for you today: Hold on to Hope! As Pope Francis likes to put it: “Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope”!’
While citing one of his favourite lines in the Bible – ‘Every day, as long as this today lasts, keep encouraging one another (Heb3:13)’ – Archbishop Martin offered his thanks to the young people ‘for keeping in touch with each other and for encouraging each other’, as well as teachers for their support through online classes and helping to keep spirits up and parents, families and friends, ‘who have been rallying around you and who will always be there for you — no matter what’.
‘Some day you will look back on 2020 and tell your children and grandchildren about the way the coronavirus tried to spoil your dreams. I hope you will go on to describe how the opposite happened — it actually led to a strengthening of your character, your belief in yourself, your empathy for others, and your faith in God,’ Archbishop Martin concluded.
Picture: The Primate of All-Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, is pictured in Dublin on 26th August 2018. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).