Papal visit, of sorts, thanks to creative boy from County Limerick

Donal O'Regan

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Donal O'Regan

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donal.oregan@limerickleader.ie

Fionn Roche; his mum Helen; a very lifelike cardboard cut out of Pope Francis; Br James L Dormer; Ger Brennan, former Dublin footballer, at Fionn’s prize giving ceremony

Fionn Roche; his mum Helen; a very lifelike cardboard cut out of Pope Francis; Br James L Dormer; Ger Brennan, former Dublin footballer, at Fionn’s prize giving ceremony

A CHRISTIAN Brother in Limerick is getting lots of congratulations for securing an audience with the Pope – but all is not as it seems.

Former principal of Doon CBS Primary School, James L Dormer has been receiving well wishes since this photo of him and Pope Francis appeared on social media.

“One lady shouted up the street to me, ‘What was the experience like to meet the Pope?’ I got a text from another man asking me, ‘When was I in Rome?’” smiled Br Dormer.

But it is all thanks to Fionn Roche, aged nine, from Doon. He won second prize in a competition run by  The Irish Catholic newspaper. Primary school children were invited to draw a picture and write a letter of welcome to the Pope for his expected visit to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families in August.

Fionn scooped €500 for his school in the Fáilte Pope Francis competition. He was invited to Dublin where his mum Helen and former principal, Br Dormer, got to meet Dublin footballer Ger Brennan and a very lifelike cardboard cut out of the Pope.

In his letter, Fionn said he hoped the Pope will have a great time in Ireland “and I will say a prayer that it won’t rain in August”.

“I’m hoping that you will be able to come. It would be a wonderful memory for me to have as I grow up. My parents were young children when Pope John Paul II came to Ireland, but they still remember it,” he wrote.

The response to the competition from primary schools was so overwhelming, one nicer than the next, that the decision was made to publish a book with the most engaging entries. The book Fáilte Pope Francis – and features Fionn’s letter – is being published by Columba Press and is available in shops. All royalties from the book will be donated to Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin.

Fionn also has the honour of having his picture picked for the front cover of the book. But then again artistic talent runs in the family.

His brother Emmet, who is in fifth class, got first place in the ESB Primary School Art Competition, which was announced just before Christmas. Principal of Doon CBS Primary School, Joanne O’Connell, all the teachers and pupils are very proud of the Roche boys.