On April 22, 103 finalists in the Annual Respect Life Creative Writing Contest gathered at the Cardinal Rigali Center to be recognized for their outstanding entries.
These finalists, representing over 70 different Catholic elementary schools, parish schools of religion, and home schools, were selected from over 1100 entries. Finalists received a certificate of commendation, T-shirt, and book and were recognized by Archbishop Robert J. Carlson. Open to 8th graders in the Archdiocese, the contest asked students to respond to the prompt: Explain why living the virtue of chastity protects us from abortion and blesses us with true holiness, health, and happiness.
From these finalists, five students were recognized as honorable mention winners and five students were selected as scholarship winners. Honorable mention winners received a $250 award; the scholarship winners received a $1000 scholarship to be applied to their Catholic high school of choice. All honorable mention and scholarship winners also each received three tickets to the Annual Respect Life Convention in October, hosted by the Respect Life Apostolate.
Honorable mention winners this year are:
- Kathryn Echele from Sacred Heart Grade School in Valley Park (Cor Jesu Academy)
- Grace Koeller from Holy Cross Academy and parishoner at Seven Holy Founders (St. Dominic High School)
- McKinleigh Nelson, a homeschooler from St. Gianna Parish (St. John Paul II Prep)
- Cooper Ruhl from Most Sacred Heart Grade School in Eureka (Eureka High School)
- Gianna Zuniga from St. John Paul II Prep (St. John Paul II Prep)
Scholarship winners this year are:
- Bishop Edward J. O'Donnell Scholarship: Moira Healy from St. Francis Assisi Grade School (Notre Dame High School)
- Mary Forrestal Hennessey Scholarship: Caroline Cross from St. Gerard Majella PSR (Cor Jesu Academy)
- Mr. & Mrs. George Kletzker Scholarships: Andrew Chapman from St. Joseph Grade School in Imperial (St. John Vianney High School) and Grace Hughes from Holy Infant Grade School (Cor Jesu Academy)
- Knights of Columbus Missouri State Council Scholarship: Anthony Anger from St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Grade School (Trinity Catholic High School)
To read the winning essays, click on each student's name.
Congratulations to all of our finalists, honorable mention winners,
and scholarship winners!!
Moira Healy from St. Francis Grade School (Notre Dame H.S.) - Bishop Edward J. O'Donnell Scholarship Winner
Thomas Aquinas, said that “Chastity helps us live out our sexuality in an ordered way”. To me, having an ordered sexuality is the same as chastity. It means that my will and God’s will, about my sexuality, are driving in the same lane, in the same direction, even if I am cruising a little behind God’s pace. My parents are my first road map about what chastity is like. Yet, the choices I make while I follow God as I grow into an adult will have an effect on everyone that God sends into my life. In my “chastity vehicle” with me are my family, future spouse, and community.
Chastity is not just about being abstinent; it is about letting God shape my feelings of love and friendship for others. I have to stay in the same lane with God to let this happen. Chastity is also an action that I take, for me, on behalf of myself and others. If I veer in another direction, away from God’s chastity lane, others can get injured. Chastity helps to create justice because it can protect others from reckless drivers!
Having unchaste sexual relations can lead to the ultimate injustice, the loss of life. Chastity is God’s gift to us and we have more holiness when we receive it. Pregnancy and children are God’s holy gift to us, but we must wait for the right time to get our driver’s license and car keys.
As I have educated myself on chastity, and had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. to express the justice of chastity that we Catholics believe in, I have come to the conclusion that chastity is my “pro”, my “choice”. It feels good to be at peace, to be clean, honest, and just, to be with other people who also have these feelings. It makes ME feel “ordered” and in the driver’s seat. I will embrace my chastity. It’s a good feeling, and the feelings of protection it gives me for my unborn children and all unborn children.
Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologiae, II-II.n.d.350
Caroline Cross from St. Gerard Majella PSR (Cor Jesu Academy) - Mary Forrestal Hennessey Scholarship Winner
Her Blue Eyes
In the beginning,
Her eyes were a bright, vibrant blue
She went to church every Sunday
Because she wanted to be closer to God
It made her happy
Knowing that she had pleased Him
Her parents supported her
Her siblings adored her
Her friends trusted her
And God was proud
When she grew a bit older,
Her eyes were a curious blue
She went on a date
With a boy from school
Because she thought that he was handsome
But she was confused
By her feelings towards him
Her parents were hesitant
Her siblings were curious
Her friends were envious
And God hoped she would make wise decisions
She opened her lost blue eyes
She had spent the night
With her boyfriend
Because she wanted to please him
But she regretted it
She knew it was wrong
Her parents were disappointed
Her siblings were disdainful
Her friends were mortified
Her boyfriend was unsatisfied
And God had been pushed away
A short time later,
Her eyes were a faded blue
She had destroyed an unborn life
Because she was embarrassed
And she was despairing
Her parents had lost all hope
Her siblings were contemptuous
Her friends scorned her
Her boyfriend was nowhere to be found
And God was quiet, waiting for her to come to Him
After many dark days,
Her vacant blue eyes gazed upon the floor
As she sought sacramental forgiveness
Because she felt empty
Her parents were prayerful
Her siblings were prayerful
Her friends were prayerful
And God granted His forgiveness
A lifetime later,
Her blue eyes were full of love
But also longing
She watched her husband
And ached for the baby she would never meet.
Her parents were doting
Her siblings were gathering
Her friends were flocking
Her husband was holding their newborn baby
And God was happy with His perfect new creation
Andrew Chapman from St. Joseph Grade School in Imperial (St. John Vianney H.S.) - Mr. & Mrs. George Kletzker Scholarship Winner
What is chastity? Chastity means to stay pure, or chaste, by staying away from sexual interaction before you are married. Despite sex being shown on TV as a common and okay thing to do, sex before marriage can result in unexpected pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. By living this virtue of chastity you can stop abortions and stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Chastity helps us to find true holiness, happiness, and health.
Chastity helps us find true holiness by helping us respect our body and others. We find this true holiness when we trust in God to guide us to heaven. The virtue of chastity helps us to have true holiness by giving us the courage needed to stay away from sexual intercourse before marriage.
Chastity helps us find true happiness by helping us to truly value sexual interaction between a man and a woman. It also helps us to truly realize the amazing gift of human life. The virtue of chastity reminds us that sex is not some activity to do at any time with anyone. Chastity helps to keep us centered and focused on the path to creating friendships and relationships.
Chastity gives us true health by keeping us away from the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. These diseases affect not only you but any future children you have. Chastity encourages young people to stay away from sex until marriage, this can help to stop sexually transmitted diseases from spreading. Chastity helps young people to wait till they are married to have sex, by teaching them that sex isn’t just a normal thing to do whenever - it is a special connection meant for a married man and woman.
Overall, chastity helps young people to value Christian families. Chastity can help to stop abortion and programs such as Planned Parenthood by eliminating sex before marriage. Plus, chastity can help young people to grow in their friendships and grow relationships. Finally, chastity helps guide us to a truly holy, truly happy, and truly healthy life.
Grace Hughes from Holy Infant Grade School (Cor Jesu Academy) - Mr. & Mrs. George Kletzker Scholarship Winner
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the wonderful gift of chastity. It is truly a blessing and helps to protect us, keep us holy, make it easier to stay away from abortion, and so much more. I cannot imagine the horrible world where everyone thinks it is okay to live a life that is not pure and chaste, where we can misuse our bodies and then use abortion as the way out. Living a chaste life also helps us to focus on you, reach our potential, not get ourselves in a situation where we feel pressured to have an abortion, and have self-respect and dignity. Being able to be pure allows us to be happy without letting other people take advantage of our physical bodies, but seeing who we are on the inside. Our physical health and the health of our minds would be compromised without this gift of chastity you have so thoughtfully given us. Thank you also for the gift of new life that brings great joy to many people.
Please help everyone to make the right decisions in living a chaste life. Send the Holy Spirit to those who are considering abortion, so that they will choose life and know that a wonderful life has already started, and encourage all who are involved in the legislature, so that they will stand up for what is morally right and pass laws that give unborn babies the right to life. Also, send the Holy Spirit to encourage those who realize how important the virtue of chastity is, so they may spread the message to others. Watch over us to help us make sure that everyone not only has respect for new life, but also a respect for their body, a gift that you have given us, so that we may always use it in right and chaste ways.
Anthony Anger from St. Rose Philippine Duchesne School (Trinity Catholic H.S.) - Knights of Columbus Missouri State Council Scholarship Winner
Living the virtue of chastity protects us from abortion and blesses us with true holiness, health and happiness. A true reflection of this statement is the growth cycle of the white lily, symbolically, the flower of purity. The bulb of the lily is carefully planted in soil. Then, along with nutrients in the soil, the Sun, and water, help the roots to grow and the lily to come forth from the earth. Our bodies are also as delicate as the lily. Chastity, instilled deeply within our souls, allows us to grow in the light of the Son of God and to be fed with His Body and Blood.
Both plant and person, however, are not guaranteed escaping trials. The lily must grow and be exposed to pests and molds, which can alter the growth of the plant. Chastity, once compromised could lead the body to physical and emotional trials, and to consider or even carry out the act of an abortion. The lily cannot fully grow with the loss of its leaves and stems, leaving scars, and the body can also be affected by the act of an abortion. Scar tissue can compromise both the lily and the body. Once chastity has been broken before the Sacrament of Matrimony, the body is at risk.
The lily, however, in the hands of the master gardener, can be brought back to health. God himself as the Master of all living creatures, can heal the broken chastity of our bodies and bring both the body and soul back to growth in the Spirit. Both the gardener and God’s gentle touch can heal and bring the bruised and broken back to growth.
Saint John Paul II stated, “Chastity is a difficult, long term matter; one must wait patiently for it to bear fruit, for the happiness of loving kindness which it must bring. But at the same time, chastity is the sure way to happiness.”