St Albans students’ close encounter with Pope

PUPILS of a St Albans Catholic school had an “awesome” time seeing Pope Benedict up close at Twickenham when they joined thousands of young people at an event billed as “The Big Assembly” last Friday.

One thrilled Year 10 student at Nicholas Breakspear School in Colney Heath Lane, described seeing the Pope “within touching distance” at St Mary’s University College as: “A once-in-a-lifetime experience and something to tell the grandchildren in the future.”

She was one of 10 pupils who, along with head teacher Philip Jakzsta and deputy head teacher Bernie Whittle, celebrated Roman Catholic education with the Pope and more than 3,000 young people from around England, Wales and Scotland.

Nicholas Breakspear was one of 200 Catholic schools and colleges selected to take part in the Big Assembly by ballot.

Mrs Whittle said the group felt “greatly honoured and privileged” to be at the event and added: “We were on the inside of the running track as the Popemobile went past and it was a real experience for us; some of the students turned round afterwards and said ‘Wow! That was awesome’.”


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Others from Nicholas Breakspear School experienced the event via live weblink, shown in assemblies to all year groups.

In his speech to young people, the Pope said he was glad to be with them as, “It is not often that a Pope or indeed anyone else has the opportunity to speak to the students of all the Catholic schools of England, Wales and Scotland at the same time.

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“I hope that among those of you listening to me today there are some of the future saints of the twenty-first century.”

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