Natalie Wong, left, a Grade 11 student at Loretto Abbey, is the 2012 winner of the Friar’s Essay Contest. Her winning entry will be published in the paper and here at in the coming weeks.

Friar’s Essay winners announced, students take home an iPad2 and Kindle Fire

  • January 25, 2012

TORONTO - Natalie Wong is the first-place winner of the Friar’s Essay Contest sponsored by the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and The Catholic Register for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

High school students between the ages of 14 and 18 were asked to submit an essay no longer than 500 words answering the question: “What must be changed in order to attain Christian unity in the Church?”

Students were asked to reflect on the Scripture passage of 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, given the theme for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 18-25: “We will all be changed.”

“It’s a subject that I often talk about with my mother,” said Wong, a Grade 11 student at Toronto’s Loretto Abbey. “I saw it as an opportunity to voice my opinion.”

For her efforts, Wong has won a 16 GB iPad2.

Wong, who was both surprised and stunned to have won the top spot, said she gained a lot more insight into Christian unity through writing the essay.

The contest received close to 150 entries, a record response. Essays were submitted from high school students across the province.

“I was delighted by the outstanding response,” said Franciscan Friar of the Atonement Fr. Damian MacPherson, who along with Register editors judged the entries.

“This contest is a great opportunity for young minds to do some reflection and research on the importance of unity in the Christian Church. It also gives them a chance to reflect on their own faith and come to a deeper understanding of their practice.”

- Laila Khoshkar, a Grade 12 student placed second. Jason Angelo Iruthayarajah came third.

Second-place winner Laila Khoshkar, a Muslim student at Toronto’s St. Joseph’s Morrow Park High School, said she was writing from an outsider’s point of view.

“I go to a Catholic school so it’s nice to learn about another faith,” said Khoshkar, a Grade 12 student. “It was a good experience because I got to learn more about it. I did a bit of research and I guess I just formed my opinion based on what I see at school.”

The winner of an Amazon Kindle Fire, Khoshkar said she found the Bible passage to be quite interesting and that it was “enlightening” to learn a bit more about another religion.

Jason Angelo Iruthayarajah, a Grade 11 student at St. Augustine Secondary School in Brampton, Ont., was the third place winner.

He said it’s important to remember that we’re all following Jesus.

“We should try and be unified and try to work out our differences between each other,” he said. “I think maybe if we use more dialogue between these different divisions in the Church, then maybe we can work it all out and eventually become a stronger Church because of that.”

The top three essays will be edited and published here at and in The Catholic Register starting next week.

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