World Youth Day Communications Officers from England and Wales awarded for their work


An awards ceremony was recently held in Westminster, hosted by the ITN News at Ten presenter, Julie Etchingham and the Bishop for Communications, John Arnold, to celebrate the achievements of the English and Welsh World Youth Day Communications Officers.

Before setting off on their pilgrimage to the other side of the world, the Communications Officers had been asked to record a 5 minute video diary of their World Youth Day pilgrim experience; pre, during and post the big event. The awards ceremony publicly recognised this work.

Ms Etchingham felt a particular affinity with the young Communications Officers because she had been invited by her bishop 17 years earlier to serve as a Media Officer at World Youth Day in Czetochova for her home diocese of Nottingham:

“It was a very far cry from all the amazing kit that is available to you. I simply kept a written diary as we were trudging through fields and making our way through Eastern Europe on a bus, across cobbled motorways. We didn’t have Facebook; we didn’t have Bebo, we weren’t communicating on mobile phones. It was out of the ark when I was there.

“That WYD was a very special one – it was in Pope John Paul II’s home country and it was a big homecoming for him and it was just after the Berlin Wall had come down so a very visual barrier had been removed in terms of communication. There was an extraordinary spirit at the time of young people wanting to get to know each other from across that very concrete divide.

The experience helped affirm her desire to pursue journalism as a career:

“I think as a Catholic it can be quite a noble profession. In its best moments, it speaks profoundly human being to human being about the truth of the world that we live in, the challenges that we all face, it allows us to be a witness. And it is a very privileged position to be in, to witness some of the dreadful things in life, but to communicate them compassionately and also to witness some of the glorious things in life and make sure that we provide a window on the world and with all these extraordinary facilities that you all have now…it is something to be embraced.”

There were three video award categories:

Third prize for the most creative video diary went to the Diocese of Westminster.
Second prize for the most original video diary was awarded to the Diocese of Nottingham.
First prize went to the Archdiocese of Liverpool for a well put together, professional ‘feel good’ package, giving a strong sense of a journey, both geographically and spiritually.

About the award, first prize winner, Rick Brewin from the Archdiocese of Liverpool said: "I was really pleased to see that the footage was going to be used to promote the role of pilgrim communications officers for future World Youth Days such as Madrid in 2011. I have developed and continued with the video editing skills I learned with the other officers back in March and am now producing promotional DVDs as part of my work for Animate Youth Ministries."

Bishop John Arnold concluded the ceremony by asking them to embrace the opportunities presented by the media:
“Thank you for all you did and achieved and let’s hope that its your prompting and enthusiasm that actually communicates to other people the importance of the media and broadcasting … that’s the way that we are going to keep people in touch with the gospel and build the Church in this generation.”


Background information to the World Youth Day Communications Officers Project:

Young Catholics prepare to witness to their faith in australia (press release)

Church in England and Wales trains communications officers for Oz (press release)