Winners announced for annual essay contest

  • January 22, 2007
Peter GrbacTORONTO - Peter Grbac  of Toronto has won the fifth annual Friars' Student Writing Award contest for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which runs Jan. 21-28 this year.

The annual contest is co-sponsored by The Catholic Register and the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement-Graymoor in Toronto.

Grbac, 16, a Grade 11 student at Toronto's St. Michael's College School, wrote an insightful 500-word essay answering the question, "How do we open our ears and loosen our tongues in order to promote Christian Unity?" as it relates to the theme "Open our ears and loosen our tongues" taken from Mark 7:31-37. Grbac wins $500 and a subscription to The Catholic Register.

"We felt that Peter's essay reflected some awareness of the actual divisions of Christianity and he had some very good references in the article. Overall it was put together rather well," said Fr. Damian MacPherson, director of ecumenism for the archdiocese of Toronto, a Franciscan Friar of the Atonement and one of the contest judges.

Gregory Drozdzal finished in second place. Drozdzal, 16, a Grade 11 student at St. Michael's Choir School in Toronto, wins a $250 prize and a subscription to The Catholic Register.

Honourable mentions go to:

  • Zarir Abuwalla, 16, a Grade 11 student at St. Marcellinus Secondary School in Mississauga;
  • Ann Chazhoor, 14, a Grade 9 student at Turner Fenton Secondary School in Brampton;
  • Catherine Kirkpatrick, 14, who is in Grade 9 at St. Aloysius of Gonzaga High School in Mississauga; and
  • Miriam Punnoose, 17, a Grade 12 student at All Saints Catholic Secondary School in Whitby, Ont.

These winners will receive a one-year subscription to The Catholic Register. All winners also receive free copies of As Pastor and Brother: In Memory of Pope John Paul II's visit to Canada and Fateful Passages: the Life of Henry Somerville, Catholic Journalist.

"The essay contest encourages the applicants to really reflect on the seriousness of what it means to live within Christianity as a divided people, which is really contrary to the whole point of the Gospel," said MacPherson.

The contest was open to all teenagers from 14 to 18. MacPherson judged the essays along with The Catholic Register's Joseph Sinasac, Publisher and Editor, Mickey Conlon, Managing Editor, and Sara Loftson, Youth Editor.

"We certainly look for attention to the theme that's given and some basic understanding of the unsatisfied sense of the division of Christianity," said MacPherson. "We shouldn't just ignore the division and get on with our own agenda, but to reflect critically on it and become in some ways responsible for being a partner for working toward Christian unity."

Over the years the contest has grown in popularity. Now some teachers assign the essay to their class to help their students learn more about Christian unity.

MacPherson and Sinasac were to present the awards to the winners on Jan. 21 after the 10 a.m. Mass at St. Joan of Arc parish.

In the coming weeks, the winning essays will be published in The Catholic Register, starting this week with Grbac's essay.

Please see:  Unity begins with one step, by Peter Grbac

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