Italian teenager Carlo Acutis is “a model of evangelisation and discipleship in the 21st Century”, according to Sacred Heart Missionary Fr Alan Neville.
Potentially the first saint with a website and to wear Nikes, Blessed Acutis was beatified by Pope Francis last weekend in Assisi.
Fr Neville, formerly the vocation director for the MSC said the beatification was “a wonderful event”.
He described Blessed Acutis as being a “model of holiness that shows us how we can engage with a world that has incredible opportunities for us to share good news”.
“The internet is one of the most incredible opportunities for us in evangelisation,” he said.
“But it’s an area I think we’ve been very slow to move into.”
“The internet is the modern day Areopagus, this is where St Paul would have been, engaging with a place that is sometimes hostile to the Faith, but you know, you can work with hostility – these are people who are searching, we need to be able to get out there and give an account of the hope that’s in us.”
Commenting on Acutis’ mantra, “we are all born original, but many die as photocopies”, Fr Neville said it’s a reminder for young people that “we all have a unique call to Holiness”.
“Even in small ways God hopes we’re extraordinary. So it’s less about following the herd and more about standing up about what we believe in, being able to witness our Faith and to celebrate the hope that we have.”
Meanwhile, at a Mass in Queens University Belfast, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh said of Blessed Acutis: “Although his own life was cut short by leukaemia at the tender age of 16, he was already well known as someone who loved God deeply, who cared about the poor and who used his talent with computers to help build up faith.”