One of the principal aims of the Catenian Association is to advance the interests of young people. Every year regional heats are arranged by local Catenians for students aged 16 to 18 in Catholic education to participate in public speaking competitions to find the contestants for the Association’s National Public Speaking Contest in Manchester later that year.
In our modern world it is essential that young people equip themselves with the skills to communicate clearly and effectively. To this end, competitors from 10 Midland Catholic secondary schools, their families, friends, teachers and Catenians converged on Bishop Milner Catholic College in Dudley on the afternoon of Sunday, 7 April for the Midland area heat of the Contest, which was organised this year by the Stourbridge Circle of the Association.
His Grace Archbishop Bernard Longley is the Patron of the Contest and he was joined on the judging panel by chief adjudicator Mr David Handy, Senior Student Recruitment Manager from Newman University, and by Mrs Angela Clancy, an experienced teacher. The judges and audience were treated to an extremely high level of speeches, with the contestants speaking on a number of subjects chosen by themselves from a varied list, ranging from ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’ to ‘Are freedom fighters terrorists?’.
As the students waited for the panel of judges to deliberate, the audience was entertained by Andrew Temba, a talented student pianist at Bishop Milner College. Before announcing the winners, Mr David Handy commented on the quality of the speeches and gave the young people some advice on how to improve on their already high standards, particularly with regard to their choice of topic. He suggested it should be one that they are passionate and knowledgeable about, as this will show in the quality of the presentation.
John Smith, St Edmund’s Catholic Academy, Wolverhampton.
After Archbishop Bernard had presented every competitor with a certificate and a £20 gift voucher, the top three places were announced. In third place was Natalie Andrews from Bishop Walsh Catholic School, Sutton Coldfield and in second place was Niamh Gibbons of Bishop Milner Catholic College. They received certificates and gift vouchers for £50 and £75 respectively. In first place was Linto Tom from St Augustine’s Catholic High School in Redditch, who received a certificate, a voucher for £100, the Catenian Association Shield, and £100 for her School.
1st Place – Lintu Tom – St Augustine’s Catholic High School, Redditch.
The main organiser for the competition, Stourbridge Catenian Peter Harrington, said in conclusion, ‘We offer a big ‘thank you’ to the teachers who give so much of their time working with the students and all those who have supported them in their endeavours. We hope that all who have taken part today will draw positives from the experience and we wish them well, both for today, and more especially in their future chosen careers.
Pete Harrington, Province 6 Youth Development Officer, writes:
Going to Wembley is always exciting but being in a coach load of young pilgrims from Dudley and Wolverhampton was exceptional. We gathered at 7.00am at St Peter & Paul Church near the Molineux ground, with Mgr Mark Crisp and BCYS leader Vicki Hamilton. Most of the youngsters and Nick Jarvis from Stourbridge Circle had eaten their lunch before we reached Coventry and then promptly went off to sleep.
Arriving at Wembley Stadium at the same time as the fans arriving for the Tottenham v Arsenal match created an air of expectancy. However, all was well-marshalled for the short walk from the coach park to the arena, which is adjacent to the football stadium. This restricted the use of the open spaces around the ground, so pilgrims were quickly ushered inside where we had to stay until well after the game was finished.
Inside the Arena, there are wide access areas around the hall which featured displays by various Catholic charities and sodalities amongst the bars and facilities, plus a large display by Catenian Brothers. The Cats were well organised, handing out literature and advice about the Bursary Fund, supervised by Bob Hussey from Cirencester. The main-stage presentation by him and his team about the support that the Bursary Fund offers to young Catholics was absolutely brilliant.
The show kicked off about 11.00am with great visual graphics and inspirational modern praise songs lead by Tim Hughes with thoughts from rapper Guvna B. The theme throughout the day was ‘Significance’, designed to encourage young people to ‘stay in their lines’ and be confident in themselves to not be drawn away from the love of God. There were inspiring words from all the presenters, particularly from Archbishop Eamon Martin (Primate of all Ireland) and the American Christian speaker from Texas, Robert Madu, who presented the gospel in a unique and relevant way.
The afternoon programme was rounded off with an introduction to Adoration by the Rise Theatre tableaux and the wonderful sounds of the Youth Gospel Choir. A gentle but encouraging homily from Cardinal Vincent Nichols lead to moments of quiet Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, when the hall, which was full of prayerful young people, was held in pin-dropping silence. Cardinal Vincent then rose to give a very quiet and moving blessing.
The farewell commissioning and thanks were given by Fr Dermott Donnelly, who is chairman of the CYMFed Organisation of England and Wales. As we returned to the coach park in the now quiet streets of Wembley, we were filled with thoughts of the experience we had shared with so many enthusiastic Catholic youngsters and their mentors.
It was so worthwhile. Thank you to all the Brothers and Circles of Province 6 for your support and contributions, which helped to make a success of this great biannual event.