By Susan Ciancio
St. Anthony of Padua taught, “Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak.”
At the Culture of Life Studies Program, we believe wholeheartedly in this philosophy. Our pro-life lessons teach the tenets of the faith and help young people build the moral courage that is necessary so that they can go out into the world and evangelize, stand up for those truths, and help build a culture that respects all people—from before birth until death.
We teach these lessons all year long. But once a year, we listen. We ask kids their opinions. And we ask them to write about their thoughts.
We hold our pro-life essay contest during Respect Life Month to encourage children and teens to think, to teach them to build upon their faith and formulate thoughts, and then to articulate those thoughts. And we award amazing prizes for those who express their faith with compassion, love, and insight. This year is no different.
You can find all the details about our essay contest at prolifeessay.com, but we want to explain five reasons why your young student will benefit from entering our essay contest.
1. The more students express their beliefs, the more skilled they will become at defending them.
Young people today need practice defending their faith. Conversations with family and the latitude to ask questions and explore different avenues all lead to a deeper understanding of God’s laws. The more skilled students become, the more courageously they will be able to stand for the vulnerable.
2. Writing about their beliefs will help them understand that a love of learning about our faith should never stop.
Our contest, especially this year, requires students to think and to possibly do a little research before they begin writing. When we foster a love of learning about God and His teachings, students will see that learning is not only fun but a fantastic way to strengthen their faith.
3. Expressing their feelings and devising solutions to problems helps foster a sense of pride.
This year, we ask students to explain what they can do to help people—moms especially—understand the value of a preborn baby. Working through tough arguments allows students to formulate a plan and to create solutions. When they do so, they come to understand that they can make a difference and that their opinions matter.
4. Thinking about the vulnerable and how to help them allows students to build compassion.
We live in a society that often doesn’t encourage people to see things from another’s point of view. Having compassion does not mean giving up your belief system. It simply means considering how someone else feels. It should mean that we walk with that person rather than walk away from that person. And it should mean that we help them find a solution to their problem that respects the lives of all involved. When it comes to moms and babies, that solution should never involve taking the life of an innocent baby.
5. When ideas become tangible by their visibility on a piece of paper, students have something solid to hold onto.
When students take the time to write down—and read over—their thoughts, they feel a sense of ownership and accomplishment. The very act of writing down their beliefs and solutions builds the courage to then speak these truths. The more students practice this, the better they will become at explaining what they believe and why.
Our pro-life essay contest is a beautiful way to help students grow in faith and to strengthen their beliefs. We encourage all 5th-12th grade students to enter so that their words will teach and their actions speak.