Bellerive duo's good example earns national recognition

By Patrick Hart

The Celebrating Young People Awards may have been presented in central London, but there was a strong Liverpool interest in the glittering proceedings which saluted young people in England and Wales who put Catholic social teaching into practice.

It helped, of course, that the familiar figure of the Archbishop of Liverpool, Most Rev Malcolm McMahon OP, was present to hand over the prestigious 2017 Pope Francis Award (selected from all the various nominations) at the ceremony at the Prince Charles Cinema on Leicester Square before Christmas.

Yet also in attendance were two students from Liverpool's Bellerive FCJ Catholic College – Kelsea Curran (top right) and Caitolin Ali – as Archbishop Malcolm congratulated the assembly of more than 60 nominees, saying: 'You are not the Church of tomorrow but the Church of today.'

Kelsea, 15, and Caitolin, two years her senior at 17, were just two of hundreds of young people who had been nominated by friends, family, teachers and clergy for six categories of award, each celebrating a different aspect of Catholic social teaching lived out in action.

While the recipient of the overall youth prize given out by the Archbishop was Aaron Omotosho (opposite) from Manchester's Loreto College, His Grace's spirits would have soared even higher on an uplifting evening when Kelsea was named one of three winners of the Dorothy Day Award for 'fostering community and participation'.

As well as being a carer to her mum and younger sister, GCSE student Kelsea spends much of her spare time helping others by volunteering in the community – working every day at a local youth centre with both people her own age and the wider community. According to Bellerive's school chaplaincy, Kelsea 'would feel humbled to receive the award as it would also recognise all the people she works with and what they do in the community. Kelsea herself probably doesn't recognise how influential her role is, because helping others and being involved come very naturally to her.'

The Bellerive success story continued when Caitolin, who is studying for her A Levels, was announced as a runner-up in the St Josephine Bakhita Award category 'celebrating human dignity'. Caitolin, as the main carer for her father, has dealt with many difficult circumstances yet according to her school, 'carries herself with gentleness and dignity, and is always smiling, willing to help in any way and eager to do well'.

The Celebrating Young People Awards are run by Catholic youth charity Million Minutes – an organisation that gives voice and support to young people (aged up to 25) to transform their lives and their world – in partnership with St Mary's University, Twickenham. While there were three winners in each category, the judging panel declared themselves impressed by all the nominees as examples of ordinary young people doing the most extraordinary things.

The last words, though, went to Caitolin, one of two remarkable local teenagers who help make our communities and world a better place: 'I am glad there is something out there that recognises the work that young people and I do on a daily basis.'