The Catholic Register's publisher Jim O'Leary, Office of Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs administrative assistant Vivian Kwok and Fr. Daniel Callahan, of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, pose with the winners and honourable mentions of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity essay contest. All essays were judged by professional journalists from The Catholic Register. Left to right: Steven Travale, Thomas Albertini, Jim O’Leary, Vivian Kwok, Fr. Daniel Callahan, Angela Tabucan, Veronica Carswell and Michael Bellucci. Photo by Ruane Remy

Christian unity opens minds [2015 Friars' Essay Contest]

  • January 29, 2015
TORONTO - At one point in her life, Angela Tabucan didn’t believe in Christian unity. But now she has seen the light.

Tabucan, 17, had thought various Christian denominations were so different that as a Catholic she could not relate to them.

“But that was far from the truth,” said the Grade 12 student from Markham, Ont.’s St. Brother André Catholic High School and the first-place winner of the 2015 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity contest. The annual contest is sponsored by the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement-Graymoor and The Catholic Register.

Tabucan’s essay focused on Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well and what that moment tells Catholics about the value of Christian unity. Her prize is a 16GB iPad Air.

“It seems every year the judges are impressed by the quality of the writing from these young people. This year is no exception. Picking a winner is never easy, but Angela’s essay particularly impressed the judges because of its passion and clarity,” said Jim O’Leary, editor and publisher of The Register.

The second-place prize of a Kobo Aura H2O was awarded to Toronto’s Veronica Carswell. Michael Bellucci, also from Toronto, won third place and honourable mentions go to Mississauga’s Dominik Wrona, Toronto’s Thomas Albertini and Steven Travale from Walkerton, Ont.

The more Tabucan educated herself, the more her understanding of Christianity evolved.

“The heart of Catholicism, the heart of faith in Christianity, is the person of Christ,” she said. “Christian unity is important because His love, it wasn’t just reserved for different denominations. It’s something to be shared. And it’s a call to love. It’s a call to be open to share that with not just the people in your own denomination, but as well with your neighbour.”

Tabucan is calling all Christians to see one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.

“The difference between having friends who are not Christian and having friends who are Christian is that you really rely on one another (Christian friends), you really need one another, especially in this (secular) world,” she said.

She also thanks her brother, a Catholic attending the trans-denominational Tyndale University College and Seminary in Toronto, for introducing her to a variety of Christians.

“Being close to my brother and his close friend who had a lot of (encounters with) people of other denominations... that’s where I drew my experience from,” she said. “Christian unity should be important to Catholics.


Editor's note: Read the winning entries below:

[1st place] A call for unity by Angela Tabucan, a student at St. Brother Andre CHS, in Markham, Ont.

[2nd place] Breaking past the barriers by Veronica Carswell, a student at Don Bosco CSS, Toronto

[3rd place] Teach all peoples, of all nationalities, the word of God by Michael Bellucci, a student at Bishop Allen Academy, Toronto

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