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Page last updated at 08:23 GMT, Friday, 10 September 2010 09:23 UK
Catholics take part in Pope Benedict's visit to the UK

Sister Michelle Hawkins

Sister Michelle Hawkins is part of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Joseph, at Saint Dominic's Priory, in Lymington. She explains what the Pope's visit means to her.

Sister Julie and Sister Mary Benedicta
The Sisters of Saint Joseph are eager to hear what the Pope will say.

Just yesterday we received our Pilgrim's Packs and passes and four sisters will be heading for London when the Pope arrives.

We are eager to hear what he has to say to us all.

We look upon the Pope as our spiritual leader on earth; the successor of St. Peter, to whose care Jesus entrusted His Church, the people of God.

Our community had the great privilege of meeting the Pope in Rome when he was Cardinal Ratzinger back in 1997.

Following his election as Pope, it was a great joy for us to be able to take a group of young people to the World Youth Day gathering, to meet with him in Cologne.

We remember the fatherly way he greeted us after his German morning Mass. It lasted all of a few minutes but will be with us all our lives.

It was such an experience of the universal Church, being united through a common faith and baptism. The excitement of being part of something so wonderful and so much bigger than yourself brings great hope, for the message that he brings is none other than Christ, our hope and our reconciliation; so much needed in our world today.

Sr Julie, Sr Margarita, Sr Mary Benedicta with Sr Veronica behind.
The sisters say we are 'on the threshold of a renewal of the Church'.

Following the vigil at Hyde Park the sisters will be driving, as quickly as possible, to Maryvale in Birmingham, (the home of Cardinal John Henry Newman) to catch a coach to Cofton Park, for the Beatification Mass with our Holy Father Pope Benedict.

We wait to hear what time-slot our coach has for travelling into the Park - we pray it is not too early, as we have heard some reports that coaches are leaving at 3am! And we have only a few hours to get there.

We believe that at this time in the history of the Church, we are once again on the threshold of a renewal and strengthening of the Church in England.

Our hope for the visit is for a re-awakening of Christian life in our land, that we may be drawn away from complacency and a sense of hopelessness that abides in the hearts of many; to live in the wonderful truth that Christ our saviour came to bring through His death and resurrection; "God loved us so much he gave His only Son…."

We eagerly wait to hear what the Holy Father has to say!

Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson
Catherine Thompson is working as an English tutor in Italy.

Student Catherine Thompson, 21, is a from Havant & Emsworth Parish, and is currently working as an English tutor in a language training camp in Italy.

Catherine has been involved in the local Catholic community for most of her life and has attended several large Catholic youth events including World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia in 2009.

In 2007 she was part of a gathering of 500,000 Catholics in Loreto, Italy where she represented Portsmouth Diocese.

She said: "It was absolutely amazing, meeting so many friends who share my faith.

"The Eucharistic adoration was really inspiring, the way the pope changed people's lives and that strengthened my faith when it could have gone either way.

Catherine hopes to see Pope Benedict in Hyde Park on 14 September where she hopes other young people will have a similar experience.

"I'm very excited - all the other people gathering and the excitement about our faith. The church is people. - we're brought together because of our faith."

"I hope the Pope coming will be the turning point for a lot of people".




SEE ALSO
How will Pope be received in UK?
01 Sep 10 |  Newsnight
Pope Benedict Birmingham visit
14 Jul 10 |  People & Places
Profile: Pope Benedict XVI
25 Dec 09 |  Europe

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