Thanks to all the students, mentors, and volunteers who took part in the 2016-2017 Essay Contest. More than 450 essays by students of all age levels were submitted. The focus of this year's writing was on respect for the lives of the sick, the suffering, the elderly, and the dying.
Click here for the list of 2016-2017 prize winners
Winners will be recognized at the Awards Liturgy
on Sunday, February 12,
at 11:00 a.m. Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral.
"Every elderly person…even if he is ill or at the end of his days, bears the face of Christ."
~ Pope Francis
Photo: CNS/Paul Haring
These are the Essay Questions for each age group
Grades 1 - 2
There is a lot that older people can teach us. Think of someone you know---like your grandmother or grandfather or a friend or neighbor. These people are special gifts from God. They have been in the world a long time so they can tell you stories about their lives and teach you things. And you can tell them stories too and make them laugh. Think of an older person you know and write a letter to them. You can thank them for the love they've shown you or for taking care of you or for the fun times you've had together. You could also draw a picture they might enjoy.
Grades 3 - 4
Often older people need our help because they are sick or injured. Sometimes they are lonely and just need someone to talk to them and pay attention to them. Showing interest in their lives and asking about how things were when they were young may be a kindness they would appreciate. Think about how kind Jesus was to everyone he met. Name some things you can do to bring the blessings of Jesus to people who are old or sick or lonely or injured.
Grades 5 - 6
Jesus gave us seven sacraments to bring grace into different parts of our lives. One of these is the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. People receive this sacrament from a priest when they are in danger of death because of illness or old age. The special grace given to us in this sacrament prepares us to enter into eternal life to meet Jesus. Write about this Sacrament that the Church offers people who are very ill or near life's end. Why would it be important for someone to receive this final Sacrament?
Grades 7 - 8
During our life on earth, we all suffer, and suffering is difficult. Jesus also suffered when he was crucified and died on the cross to redeem us. "Redemptive suffering" is the term given to our belief that suffering, when accepted and offered up in union with the Passion of Jesus, can help redeem us from our own sins and bring us closer to Christ. Have you ever offered up your suffering to Christ? Think of examples of what sufferings in your life--big or small--might be offered up to Jesus to make them easier to accept.
Grades 9 - 12
In 2016, physician-assisted suicide became legal in California. But something can be legal and still be wrong. In what the California Bishops called a “travesty of compassion,” physicians in California will now be able to prescribe a lethal dose of drugs to a patient to end his or her life. Alleviating suffering and caring for the sick and dying are foundational principles of the Catholic faith. At one of the most vulnerable times of their life, people should never be made to feel they are a burden to others. They deserve to be accompanied on their journey and to feel the embrace of the community’s care and compassion. Assisted suicide is wrong for many reasons. Write about some of these reasons and offer alternatives for dealing with pain and suffering at the end of life.