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College of Arts and Sciences

High School Essay Contest

2023 High School Essay Contest – Young Catholics and the 10th Anniversary of the Papacy of Francis

The Department of Catholic Studies at Seton Hall University is pleased to invite students to participate in its annual Catholic High School Essay Contest.

Many of the parents of today’s high school students are members of what is commonly called "the John Paul II Generation." Having come of age during St. John Paul II’s 26-year papacy, these Catholics grew up knowing of his teachings, his openness to the media, his extensive travel, and his outreach to youth. While St. John Paul II, as pope, represented Christ as his Vicar on Earth and faithfully adhered to Church teachings, he is known and revered for uniquely encouraging and challenging Catholics to be Christ for others.

We do not yet know how long the papacy of Pope Francis will last; however, in 2023, we will celebrate the 10-year mark of Pope Francis’ pontificate. It is fair to assume that in the future, your generation will be called “the Pope Francis Generation”—and, in fact, some people are already using this term to describe young Catholics currently in their teens and twenties. While it is still unknown what attributes will be ascribed to “the Pope Francis Generation,” one thing is clear: because of current world events and social realities, this generation is finding innovative ways to renew and refresh the faith of older generations, “bringing Christ to the world” (as Pope Francis has reminded us is our mission—as we follow in the footsteps of the Blessed Mother) and showing us that there is great reason for hope.

Students are invited to write essays in response to the following prompt: How would you define "the Pope Francis Generation"? What are some challenges that your generation is facing in "bringing Christ to the world," and how can these challenges effectively be met in the 21st century? What are you doing—with your school, family, parish, other organization/group, or on your own—to extend Christ’s mission on Earth, attending to the needs of the people of our unique time in history?

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 April 26, 2023, at 5 p.m. in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. 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.

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 20th, 2023.


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
[email protected]