Impact of the Visit

Harrow Catholic pupils join Slum Survivor

The ways in which people have given expression to their response to the Holy Father’s visit has been very creative and varied. Many stories are emerging that testify to the fruits of Pope Benedict’s visit to the UK. Here's a snapshot showing how the visit inspired positive action.

Apologetics Website

Deacon Nick Donnelly in the Diocese of Lancaster has created an apologetics website appealing to faith and reason writing: “Pope Benedict’s visit to the UK inspired me to do two things which I’ve never done before – get involved in the public debate between secularism and the Church and set up and run a website and blog... I didn’t know the first thing about websites and service providers, but I quickly learnt. I did all this because I wanted to answer the misunderstandings and misrepresentations.”

Visit the website -

Faith in Action

Meanwhile students and staff from St Dominic’s Sixth Form College in Harrow, London, dedicated a week to faith in action in response to the Holy Father’s call in September to be concerned with social justice. Their activities included:

  • Working in soup kitchens
  • Taking part in a sponsored walk to support the Cardinal Hume Centre which provides accommodation and support for homeless young people in Westminster
  • Volunteering at the Catholic Worker Farm which provides a home for destitute asylum seekers
  • Slum Survivor: A team of 27 students and seven staff abandoned home comforts to spend a night living in a ‘slum’ built from old pallets, cardboard and plastic sheeting

World Youth Day

The visit of the Holy Father inspired Alexander Claridge from Weymouth to respond to the Pope’s invitation to attend World Youth Day: “I came home from that trip and I felt something inside me had changed and that was when I decided to save up to go the World Youth Day in Madrid... I went to Lourdes again this year and it was so special because my little brother came with me. I realise that there is so much more to being a Catholic and I can’t wait to see His Holiness again in Madrid, as I continue the exploration of my faith.”

Catholic Education

In the Diocese of Middlesbrough more than 2,000 young people joined forces to celebrate their Catholic education focusing on the call to become saints. Pupils from schools in Middlesbrough, Scarborough, York and Hull gathered for the Little BIG Assembly to join a celebration that featured prayer, praise, song, dance, drama and personal witness. The event was organised as a follow up to the BIG Assembly that Pope Benedict attended in London when he met children from all over the country, reminding those gathered that God simply wants our friendship and he invites us to become saints.

Social Action

The visit has also prompted national conversation about Church, society and social action as led by Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) which has organised a series of events since last September. The events followed a call from our Bishops for a ‘deeper social engagement’ in November 2010, inspired by statements from the Pope’s visit on building a new culture of social responsibility.

The first event was themed, ‘A Common Endeavour’, and took place in Liverpool in February 2011. It was considered the first major step in a programme to 're-imagine and re-invigorate' the work of the Catholic community in England and Wales. The event brought together 180 delegates from across the dioceses, and other independent agencies and projects, who are engaged in broad range of social action. It was an opportunity to reflect on social action in the light of Catholic Social Teaching and to identify the opportunities and challenges that may present themselves from the present social and economic context. This was followed by an academic seminar of thinkers, theologians and commentators to explore the intellectual underpinning of the work being done by agencies across England and Wales.


The Bishops of England and Wales have resourced a Papal Visit Legacy programme called ‘Some Definite Purpose’. An accompanying resource was sent to every parish in England and Wales in January and throughout the year a series of initiatives have been organised.


What’s your story? How has the visit changed your life? Have you been inspired to do anything new or different during the last twelve months? Perhaps write a short piece for your parish newsletter and website? Do also feel free to send us your story to