Sixth class children from St Senan’s National School in Kilrush may not have been granted an audience with His Holiness Pope Francis but they received the next best thing, the Pontiff’s blessing.
Last week there was great excitement in the school when a letter, addressed to pupil Jenita Varghese, arrived on her desk from The Vatican. It was a very personal reply written on behalf of Pope Francis from his chief assessor in The Vatican, Monsignor Paolo Borgia.
The Pontiff’s letter was in response to one penned by Jenita on behalf of all the pupils in her class. Jenita has posted the letter prior to Christmas wishing him a happy birthday, a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
She also implored Pope Francis, if he had “some time to pray for us as we are preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation”.
Monsignor Paolo Borgia outlined that His Holiness Pope Francis has asked that he reply in his name and that “he appreciates your sentiments”.
“His Holiness will pray for you and the sixth class of St Senan’s Primary School as you prepare to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, and he asks the Lord to strengthen all of you by the gift of the Holy Spirit.
“As a pledge of strength and peace in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Father imparts his Apostolic Blessing,” Monsignor Borgia wrote.
Class teacher Karen Hogan told The Clare Champion that following the Pope’s visit to Ireland during last summer and when the children returned to their classroom in September, the interest in Pope Francis was heightened.
“As part of their religious education they read and learned all about Pope Francis. We had a lovely book in our classroom called Dear Pope Francis which is a compilation of letters written to the Pope and his replies to the children.
“Jenita borrowed the book and read it in its entirely as home and she prompted us to wonder if we wrote a letter would he reply back to us in West Clare? It was decided that we would wait until December and send him a letter wishing his a happy birthday,” Ms Hogan revealed.
“We honestly thought it was a shot in the dark – that it wouldn’t get to The Vatican; that we wouldn’t get a reply or if we were lucky, and it did get there, then the reply would be a generic one.
“To our astonishment and delight a letter arrived on Jenita’s desk from The Vatican. It was a very personal; reply written on behalf of Pope Francis. We were amazed when we read that Pope Francis had received our letter and confirmed that he will pray for the children of sixth class as they prepare for Confirmation.
“The pupils are really looking forward to celebrating their Confirmation day on April 13 with the knowledge that Pope Francis is praying for them. To make their day even more special they are going to present the letter as part of their opening ritual on the day,” Ms Hogan added.