Nuthurst school boy meets Pope Francis at Vatican

Tom Slater from Nuthurst meets Pope Francis at the Vatican (submitted). SUS-140810-125001001
Tom Slater from Nuthurst meets Pope Francis at the Vatican (submitted). SUS-140810-125001001
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A boy from Nuthurst received a Papal Blessing and posed a question to the Pope while visiting Vatican City with his family late last month.

Tom Slater, 12, travelled with his grandmother Catherine Wiley, founder of the Catholic Grandparents Association, to the special event organised by the Pontifical Council for the Family.

In front of around 80,000 people gathered in St Peter’s Square, Catherine gave testimony to Pope Francis speaking of the important vocation of grandparents and their courage and conviction in passing on the faith.

Speaking in Italian Tom told of the important lessons in prayer that he had learnt from his grandparents and how these had helped him in his life.

The Ardingly College pupil also posed a question to Pope Francis asking him: “You are like a grandfather to us, help us to understand how important the role of grandparents is today.”

Francesca Wiley, Tom’s mum, described the trip as ‘quite awe inspiring’ and felt ‘very proud’ of her son.

She said: “He was quite overwhelmed and I think it was a quite a special thing he realised to meet the head of the Catholic Church.”

Thanks to the help of their neighbours Tom practised Italian for two weeks and attended a special rehearsal the day before, while the service itself was broadcast on television to millions of Catholics around the world.

The family worship at Horsham’s St John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Springfield Road.

Catherine, who lives in Norfolk with her husband Stewart, was invited to the special mass to celebrate family and the elderly.

She said: “It was honestly one of the most wonderful moments of my life for me and for my family, and the most important moment for the life and development of the Catholic Grandparents Association throughout the world.

“We feel very, very blessed and privileged for this opportunity to create awareness for the vocation of grandparents to pass on the faith to their grandchildren.

“It was a prayer answered and a dream fulfilled which enabled us to thank Pope Emeritus Benedict personally for composing for us his universal prayer for grandparents, which has greatly encouraged and inspired development of The Catholic Grandparents Association all over the world.”

For more information about the CGA visit www.catholicgrandparentsassociation.org