Friars' essay contest winners announced

By 
  • January 17, 2008

{mosimage}TORONTO - Michael Scaffidi placed first in the sixth annual Friars' Student Writing Award contest for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which runs from Jan. 20 to 27.

High school students between the ages of 14 and 18 were asked to write a 500-word essay about the usefulness of prayer to the goal of Christian unity.

The theme for this year’s essay contest: pray without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5: 13-18, coincides with the 100th anniversary that Christians have prayed continuously for Christian unity.

For his efforts, Scaffidi won a $500 prize and a one-year subscription to The Catholic Register.

Michael “was able to grasp a much broader picture of the church and its struggle for unity,” said Franciscan Friar of the Atonement Damien MacPherson, who is the director of ecumenism for the archdiocese of Toronto and an essay contest judge.

“When you pray together there is a sense of unity, a sense of togetherness,” said Scaffidi, a Grade 12 student at Toronto’s De La Salle College “Oaklands.”

“Everyone can pray, it’s not something that only a select few people can do. It’s non-denominational.”

Grade 11 student Nicole Fernandes of St. Joseph Morrow Park Catholic Secondary School in North York finished in second place, winning $250 in prize money and a one-year subscription to The Catholic Register.

Honourable mentions include:

  • Jennifer Beggs, Grade 12 student at Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School in Toronto;
  • Maragret Suen, Grade 11 St. Joseph Morrow Park Catholic Secondary School in North York;
  • Ann Chazhoor, Grade 10 at Turner Fenton Catholic Secondary School in Brampton;
  • Erin Stackhouse, Grade 12 student at Jean Vanier Catholic Secondary School in Scarborough.


These winners will have their essays published in The Catholic Register and receive a one-year subscription to the newspaper.

The annual contest is cosponsored by The Catholic Register and the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement-Graymoor in Toronto. MacPherson judged the essays with The Catholic Register’s publisher and editor Joseph Sinasac, managing editor Mickey Colon and youth editor Sara Loftson.

MacPherson plans to send the winning essays to Cardinal Walter Kasper president of the Pontifical Council for Prompting Christian Unity at the Vatican.

“It would be helpful for (the Vatican) to know that at the grassroots level there are those who are thinking and praying about Christian unity. As the essays reveal there is an interest and honest concern about the divisions that exist in the church.”

MacPherson hoped that by writing these essays students would see the permanent link between prayer and Christian unity.

“In the absence of prayer the way forward is very confused and prayer reminds us we must rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance and direction.”

All winning essays will be published in the The Catholic Register in the following weeks starting this week with Scaffidi's essay.

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