Youth answer call for Christian unity in Friars’ Writing Contest

  • January 31, 2018
Every year, young writers from across Ontario impress the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement Graymoor and The Catholic Register with their insight into the themes of Christian unity.

Grade 12 student Roberta Alexis from St. Jean de Brebeuf Catholic High School in Vaughan, Ont., took home the top prize of this year’s Friars’ Student Writing Award with her insight on today’s contemporary society.

For her entry, she reflected on the theme of the 2018 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Jan. 18-25), taken from Exodus 15:6, “Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power.”

Seventeen-year-old Alexis wrote that just as God delivered the Israelites from enslavement, so too will today’s Christians be delivered from the new enslavements of poverty, violence, injustice and addictions.

“I mainly just wanted to talk about, especially in today’s world, how important it is for Christians to remain strong in their faith and stand for what they believe in,” she said. “Even in the face of persecution from society and the media, to just trust in God and to spread His message.”

Franciscan Fr. Timothy MacDonald, contest judge and former director of the Archdiocese of Toronto’s ecumenical and interfaith office, said he was very impressed with this year’s entries.

“They had a difficult topic to tackle this year that most college and university level students would have difficulty with,” said MacDonald. “It was amazing to read how these young people took them on.”

This year’s Friars’ Student Writing Award asked students to read Exodus 15:1-21 and submit a 500-word essay that responds to the question:
“Just as the Israelites sought deliverance from enslavement, in contemporary society the dignity of all people is threatened by new enslavements to poverty, violence, injustice and addictions. In what ways can Christians of all denominations work together to stave off these assaults to human dignity?”

Alexis won a 10.5-inch iPad Pro with 256GB of memory.

Second prize winner Catherine O’Brien is a Grade 12 student at St. Joseph’s Morrow Park Catholic Secondary School in Toronto. She received a Kobo Aura H2O eReader for her essay.

O’Brien took on the issue of modern idolatry and how today’s celebrity culture compromises Christian values.
Third place was awarded to 18-year-old Daniel D’Souza, a Grade 12 student from John Cabot Catholic Secondary School in Mississauga, Ont.

“I think that regardless of our denominations, as long as we are Christian, we should have one goal and that’s for unity,” said D’Souza. “We all want a peaceful world and we all believe in our saviour, Jesus Christ. He came down and showed us the way and even now, 2,000 years later, we can still take by His example.”

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