The First World Children’s Day with Pope Francis 2024

Early this year, the Vatican announced, it was going to host the first ever world’s Children Day. The parish community, of John’s Catholic Church Gravesend, got wind of it and with the permission of the pastor Fr. Moses Amune, we began to prepare the parents and the children of the parish to participate in this historic event.

The event, was slated for the 25th and 26th of May 2024. On the 25th of May over 70,000 children met the Holy father at the stadium in Rome. For the children, it was their first encounter with such a world figure. The excitement in their faces was palpable. The Holy Father was driven into the arena with the Pope mobile at about 4:45pm, with a resounding cheer, the crowd rose to welcome the Holy Father. He drove pass the crowds while waving his holy hands at us, many of us could see closely the man we hear his name mention daily at Mass.

When he got to his seat, the Holy Father began to engage the children in wrapped conversion that startled the children. He made the children to shout aloud the word Pace  severally in Italia: Meaning Peace, asking all children to announce it as against the war that is going on in Ukraine, Gaza, and other parts of Africa that is besieged by hunger and other forms of violence. His intense but short speech ended with the Ave Maria in Italia.

The children had a twenty minutes football match for peace, the match was played in the presence of the Holy Father, and the Italian minister for sports. The two teams involved were, Team White and Team Blue, The match ended 2:0 against the team wearing the blue colour Jersey. They all received precious gifts and hugs from the Italian minister for Sports and the Holy Father.

The second day was the most interesting for the over 200,000 crowds that were present at Saint Peter’s Basilica. Many of the pilgrims were present as early as 6am at St Peter’s Square in other to secure a close seat to the altar. Again, it was the feast of the Holy Trinity, the holy Father used the opportunity to give a brief catechism on the Doctrine of the Trinity in a way that children could connect with. He simply refer to God the Father, as creator of the world. God the Son as the savior of the world and the Holy Spirit he referred to as our companion on our Journey. He spoke in such a question and answer format that made the children shout aloud their answers each time he asked them questions. 

At the end of the Mass again. Many of us were privileged to see the Holy Father at a very close range. Our Parish strangely happened to be the only parish holding the Flag of Great Britain. The next world children’s day as announced by the Holy Father will take place in September 2026.


Fr Stephen Ojapah MSP

Ass Parish Priest

St John’s Catholic Church Gravesend.