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College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Catholic Studies Opens 2024 High School Essay Competition

Pope FrancisEvery year, the Department of Catholic Studies at Seton Hall University is pleased to invite students to participate in its annual Catholic High School Essay Contest. The theme of the 2024 High School Essay Contest is " Unity and the Margins.”

In October of 2023, the Synod of Bishops considered “the question of whether there are limits to our willingness to welcome people and groups, how to engage in dialogue with cultures and religions without compromising our identity, and our determination to be the voice of those on the margins and reaffirm that no one should be left behind.” This question was intended to lead to productive paths forward as the Church seeks to support all the baptized in authentically sharing the Gospel.

At the conclusion of their session, the bishops published a letter summarizing their causes for hope that the missionary role of the Church will continue to be fulfilled by the faithful of all walks of life. In their letter, the bishops emphasized that everyone can make a valuable contribution to sharing the Christian message and promoting human dignity. Significantly, they noted that those in leadership roles in the Church must “listen to those who have been denied the right to speak in society or who feel excluded.” They asserted that the young, the old, indigenous peoples, victims of abuse, and members of other marginalized groups all have unique and crucial gifts to share as we seek to live in a spirit of communion and with the purpose of a common mission.

Students are invited to write essays in response to the following prompt:
Reflecting on Pope Francis’s emphasis on the importance of accompanying the marginalized and on his teachings on compassion, empathy, and social justice, which are rooted in the life and teaching of Jesus as witnessed in the Gospels, write an essay considering how (a) we collectively and (b) you personally can heed the Synod’s call to greater communion and unity through accompanying the marginalized.

Your essay could take one of these forms:
1. Explore the various forms of marginalization present in our communities, addressing issues such as poverty, fatherlessness, discrimination, inequality, and addiction, and how accompanying those on the margins leads to unity, as modeled in the Gospels and discussed in the teachings of Pope Francis.
2. Share personal stories, experiences, or observations that have shaped your understanding of accompaniment of those on the margins, demonstrating the relationship between this accompaniment and greater communion among people and/or within the Church specifically.

For submission requirements and to submit an essay, please visit the essay competition page for more information. Please note that all essays must be submitted by Monday, March 20, 2024.

Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact Ines A. Murzaku, Ph.D., Director of the Catholic Studies program, at [email protected] or at (973) 275-2808.

Categories: Education, Faith and Service