‘Messenger for God’ Donal Walsh inspiring young people’s faith

‘Messenger for God’ Donal Walsh inspiring young people’s faith Donal Walsh Photograph: Kerry’s Eye/PA/IrishTimes

The example of “messenger for God” Donal Walsh, the teen whose faith and poise as he battled cancer captivated Ireland, is inspiring interest in the Faith among young people today, his mother has said.

Young people are seeking “guidance for their faith and spirituality and see an example in Donal that they can relate to”, Elma Walsh told a packed Knock basilica on Sunday, August 20.

She warned that we have “lost the ability to harness and guide” young people’s spirituality due to our “fear of interference”.

Ms Walsh, who visits schools, clubs and parishes across the country spreading Donal’s message of faith and life, said that interest in his faith journey comes up constantly.

“Young people are not without spirituality,” she stressed.

Donal Walsh died 10 years ago at the age of 16 after a battle with multiple bouts of cancer. The foundation his parents established in his name promotes his faith and his anti-suicide message among young people, reaching out to around 30,000 students a year.

“At that time, as there is now, there was a huge discourse around faith, respect and morality,” Ms Walsh continued.

“Through his direct language, Donal was able to initiate, in a previously taboo subject, an open conversation about minding mental health around teenagers in particular and not consider suicide as an option.”

A letter left on Donal Walsh’s grave describing the young Kerryman as a “messenger for God” encapsulates his legacy, his mother said.

The anonymous letter read: “Donal, you helped me to see the light when I thought there was none. I’m forever grateful for what you’ve done for me. I’m forever grateful. I pray for your soul, but I think you are in Heaven a long time now. I only hope I can be as good a messenger for God as you have been.”