By Susan Ciancio
The Culture of Life Studies Program—American Life League’s pre-K-12 Catholic pro-life education program—has just opened this year’s pro-life essay contest. We hold this exciting contest once a year to listen to young people express their pro-life beliefs. This is also a great way for us to learn how to tailor future lessons to the needs of today’s youth.
The essay contest—cosponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Writing—helps your children give witness to our faith and to Christ’s goodness—a concept taught by Fr. Mike Schmitz in a recent Catechism in a Year podcast episode. Fr. Mike explained, “We have to give witness to the Lord. We have to give witness to His goodness by a life that’s transformed.”
That transformation comes about in many different ways, but it always requires active participation. And that is exactly what the essay contest allows—and encourages—kids to do: take an active participation in their faith formation.
Articulating their beliefs in an essay not only helps them think about important concepts, but it inspires them to formulate these thoughts in a coherent manner. And every time young people practice defending the truths of the faith they strengthen that faith and become more comfortable with defending their pro-life beliefs.
Open to all students from 5th through 12th grade, this contest asks your children’s opinions on two different prompts.
This year, middle school students will write about moral courage—the courage to speak out for the truths of the faith. We ask students to write what they would say to a friend who believes that a woman has a “right” to abortion. The student must explain how he or she would defend the preborn baby to her friend and teach that the baby has a right to life from the first moment of creation.
The prompt for high school students introduces them to the Ignatian concept of cura personalis—care for the whole person. This means that we care for all aspects—physical, psychological, social, and spiritual—of a person rather than just one. We ask students to address how they can use this concept to care for single moms and their babies and to describe some concrete ways that they can support single moms and their children while helping them understand their value.
Both of these prompts encourage students to practice living their faith and to defend the truths of the faith so that, as they grow, they can become strong witnesses.
Essays should be approximately 500 words, and students have from now until November 6 to submit them. All details (including some amazing prizes!) are found at prolifeessay.com.
Today’s students are tomorrow’s pro-life leaders. The CLSP essay contest is one way that they can learn to defend the vulnerable and proudly stand up for their faith.