I had the great blessing of instituting a writing contest at my alma mater this spring, the middle/high school where my dreams of being a writer were encouraged and supported by wonderful teachers, and which provided a great springboard for my studies of writing, literature, and language in college and grad school, all of which led to me actually being able to call myself a professional writer. I’m so pleased to be able to encourage the current student writers in the way that I was! ❤
I named the contest for St. Francis de Sales because he’s the patron of authors, the Catholic Press, and writers in general, and he’s one of the saints I’ve chosen as patron of my own writing — I’m constantly asking for his help and intercession, that my writing serves God in the way it’s supposed to. For sure, this blog and all that has come out of it has been an answer to that prayer!
This is the first of what I hope will be many years of this contest, which will focus on the intersection of faith and writing through the topic chosen. For this, its inaugural year, the topic was: What Confirmation name did you or will you choose, and why? You might remember I’d written an article for CatholicMom.com last year providing guidelines on choosing a Confirmation name, which included a quote from my bishop, Bishop Scharfenberger, and the students were directed to read it before writing their essays.
Setting a high bar for a writing contest includes having good judges, and I was so thrilled to have secured Ms. Kate Blain, editor of my diocese’s newspaper The Evangelist; Mr. Giovanni Virgiglio, Superintendent of Schools for the Albany Diocese; and Fr. James Ebert, current pastor of Mater Christi parish in Albany and former chaplain of my alma mater, as well as a 1999 graduate. The contest was open to tenth and eleventh graders, and they should all be proud to know that the judges commented to me on what thoughtful teens they are, and what a hard choice it was.
Two winners were chosen, with the first-place winner receiving $100 and publication of his essay on CatholicMom.com; the second-place winner’s essay will also be published on CatholicMom.com. Ms. Blain at The Evangelist has also expressed interest in publishing the essays! All in all, the contest turned out just as I’d hoped — a true encouragement of faith and writing.
I’m so pleased to present the first-place essay, which posted today on CatholicMom!