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High School Essay Contest

2018 Essay Contest: Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment

In response to the 2018 Synod of Bishops and the 20th anniversary of the Catholic Studies program in the College of Arts and Sciences at Seton Hall University, the program is sponsoring its second annual essay contest, which is open to all Catholic high school students in the state of New Jersey.

The author of the winning essay will receive a $400 gift card and certificate, and the two runners-up will each receive a $150 gift card and certificate. The winners will be honored at the annual Catholic Studies Honor Society induction and reception at Seton Hall University on April 26, 2018 (date to be confirmed). Students will be permitted to bring two guests to the reception, and the winning essay will be read aloud at the reception by its author. The three winning essays will also appear in Arcadia Scholarly Student magazine, which is published by Catholic Studies.


The title of the 2018 Synod of Bishops is Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment.

The Preparatory Document to the Synod of Bishops’ states: “the Church has decided to examine herself on how she can lead young people to recognize and accept the call to the fullness of life and love, and to ask young people to help Her in identifying the most effective ways to announce the Good News today. By listening to young people, the Church will once again hear the Lord speaking in today’s world. As in the days of Samuel (1 Sam 3:1-21) and Jeremiah (Jer 1:4-10), young people know how to discern the signs of our times, indicated by the Spirit. Listening to their aspirations, the Church can glimpse the world which lies ahead and the paths the Church is called to follow.”

Catholic high school students of New Jersey are invited to write an essay sharing a real-life story answering the following questions: How does or how should the Catholic Church listen to young people? What do young people really ask of the Catholic Church?

Students' responses should show how their story highlights their vocational discernment.

Online and Hard Copy Submission Requirements

Each high school must submit no more than five essays.
Each essay will be evaluated for originality, execution, and adherence to the topic and format requirements:
·  Essays must be between 500 and 750 words
·  Entries must be written in English
·  Only one entry per student
·  All information requested below under “Submit your Essay” must be submitted


All essays must be submitted by February 15, 2018. The authors of winning entries will be notified by March 29, 2018.


Dr. Ines Angeli Murzaku
Professor and Director of Catholic Studies Program
Walsh Library 427
Seton Hall University
400 South Orange Avenue
South Orange, NJ 07079


Gloria Aroneo, M.B.A.
(973) 275-2808

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