For the 12th anniversary of The Catholic Register and Franciscan Friars of the Atonement-Graymoor Student Writing Award, Fr. Damien MacPherson wants teens to work and pray for Christian unity. Photo by Sarah Florez

Student writing contest promotes Christian unity

By  Sarah Florez, Catholic Register Special
  • November 23, 2012

Calling all high school students, Fr. Damian MacPherson and the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement-Graymoor are teaming up again with The Catholic Register to present their annual student writing award during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

"This initiative is intended to get to the very grass roots of young people thinking about the scandal of the division of the Christian church," said MacPherson,  the Director of Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs at the Archdiocese of Toronto.

The contest has been running for the 12 years. This year's theme, "What does God require of us," (Micah 6:6-8) was chosen by the Student Christian Movement of India. Contestants must be 14 to 18 years of age and enrolled in an Ontario secondary school or equivalent. They are asked to carefully reflect on the Scripture passage and submit a 500-word essay that addresses the theme. Next year, Canada has the privilege of choosing the topic.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was founded by Fr. Paul Wattson and Lurana Mary White in 1898. They are the founders of the Society of the Atonement, of which MacPherson is a member. It is a religious community that began in the Anglican Church in 1908 and was later received into the Roman Catholic Church.

The week of prayer was eventually accepted by the Vatican and consequently became a world-wide practice. In 2013, it runs from January 18-25.

"I'm always hopeful and confident that, especially in this youth outreach contest, there would be a new awareness and new sense of responsibility," said MacPherson, who hopes the contest will continue to engage more young Catholics.

"They have a responsibility to acknowledge, work and pray for the unity of the church," he said. "We collectively and globally have that responsibility."

The deadline for entries is Jan. 18, 2013. Essays are to be submitted to The Catholic Register, 1155 Yonge St., Toronto, ON, M4T 1W2. See for further details.

(Florez, 17, is a Grade 12 student at St. Basil-The-Great College School.)

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