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Pope Francis Speaking at the United Nations

High School Essay Contest

2020 Essay Contest: How Does Memory Inspire and Empower You to Promote Peace?

The Catholic Studies Program at Seton Hall University is pleased to invite students to participate in its annual Catholic High School Essay Contest. The competition is open to all students enrolled in grades 9-12 in New Jersey Catholic high schools. This year's essay contest is focused on the theme of peace.

The Church begins each calendar year with World Day of Peace, encouraging us to reflect on how we can be instruments of God's peace. Establishing and maintaining peace is an ongoing challenge and opportunity for each generation. This year will mark the 75th anniversary of two of the most destructive events mankind has known—the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki—and of one of the most hope-filled moments—the end of World War II. In his recent message for the 53rd World Day of Peace, Pope Francis reflected on his trip to Japan, where he met survivors of the 1945 nuclear attacks. He noted that memory is "the fruit of experience, to serve as the basis and inspiration for present and future decisions to promote peace." Pope Francis explained that even during dark times, "the remembrance of even a small gesture of solidarity received can lead to courageous and even heroic decisions."

Embedded in memory is the power to spark hope and action toward peace. Students are invited to write essays in response to the following prompt: How has a memory—whether a personal memory or a collective historical memory—inspired and empowered you to promote peace in a personal, local, or global context?

The author of the winning essay will receive a $300 gift card and certificate, and the two runners-up will each receive a $150 gift card and certificate. All three winners will be honored at the annual Catholic Studies Honor Society induction and reception at Seton Hall University on on April 30, at 5 p.m. in the Chapel of Immaculate Conception. Students will be allowed 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 the magazine Arcadia: A Student Journal for Faith and Culture, which is published by the Catholic Studies Program.

The essay submission requirements can be found here

Submit Your Essay Here

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 is permitted.
  • All information requested on the submission form must be included.

All essays must be submitted by March 9th, 2020. The authors of winning entries will be notified by March 31, 2020.


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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