Marian Contest Banner 2024

The annual Marian Essay Contest was established through The Catholic Foundation’s Father Frank X. Zammit Endowment Fund to provide students with the opportunity to deepen their devotion to the Blessed Mother and better understand their own role as disciples and stewards of God’s grace. This year, 258 faith-filled entries were submitted from middle school students expressing their thoughts on how we can bring Jesus to others, like Mary. The Marian Essay Contest is open to 5th-8th grade students enrolled in a diocesan Catholic School, Parish Faith Formation or Youth Ministry Program. The author of the winning essay receives a $1,000 scholarship award which can be used for Catholic school tuition, domestic mission trips, San Pedro retreats and/or to donate to the diocesan parish, school or ministry of their choice! An award is also be given to the top 7/8th grade essay and 5/6th grade essay as chosen from the remaining entries.

Contest entries combined Catholic scripture, history, reflection and personal testimony. This year’s 1st place winner, Ella H, is an 7th grade student at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic School in Altamonte Springs.

Ella reflected on the theme: Mary, Mother of the Eucharist: Mary gave us Jesus and Jesus gives us the Eucharist at every Mass. What can we give to others to show Jesus’ love for everyone?:

“The body of Jesus Christ that we experience in the Eucharist is the same body that first took human flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Through this special sacrament, we receive spiritual care and are united with the body of Christ. Furthermore, sharing the gift of the Eucharist extends beyond the church walls. As students, we can share this gift with others by representing Jesus’ love and compassion in our interactions with family, friends and strangers. Acts of kindness, forgiveness and mercy reflect the selfless love of Christ, making his presence visible to the world.”

This year’s submissions were simply outstanding and after review the following top place entries were selected along with ten Honorable Mentions:

Overall 1st Place: Ella H, St. Mary Magdalen Catholic School
Click Here to read Ella’s essay

Top 7th/8th Grade Entry: Sterling C, Holy Family Catholic School
Top 5th/6th Grade Entry: Katherine S, St. Peter Catholic School

Honorable Mentions:

Samuel D, Ascension Catholic School
Jason F, Annunciation Catholic Academy
Elena L, Resurrection Catholic School
Keira M, St. Paul Catholic School
Addi M, Resurrection Catholic School
Maggie M, Sacred Heart Catholic School
Isabelle S, St. Peter Catholic School
Jacob S, Ascension Catholic School
Cat S, St. James Cathedral School
Cathy Z, Resurrection Catholic School

Marian Essay Contest entries go through 3 stages of reviewing:

* Preliminary: Did the entry meet the basic requirements and was it relatively free of major errors.
* Review Committee: Entries were then scored by two of our review committee members.
* Finalist: The top entries from each reviewing group were then ranked by the President & CEO and Vice President & CDSO of The Catholic Foundation.

The Catholic Foundation engaged a diverse group of panelists representing many perspectives of our faith family, including clergy, religious, and Catholic lay leaders to serve on the Marian Essay Contest Review Committee:

Sr. Maria Teresa Acosta, SCTJM – Executive Assistant to Bishop Noonan
Renae Bennett – Archivist, Communications Secretariat
Deacon Darrell Buono – Theology Teacher, Melbourne Central Catholic High School
Linda Caldwell, Marketing Director – Central Region, Education Secretariat
Deacon Juan Cruz – St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church
Lynda Dennis – Executive Committee Member Women’s Philanthropic Giving Circle, The Catholic Foundation
Dr. Isabel Fernandez -Secretary for Laity, Family and Life
Diana Garcia – Development Manager, Catholic Charities of Central Florida
Jean Gonzalez, Editorial/Online Director, Florida Catholic Media
Sr. Gianna Grace, SCTJM – Associate Director of Vocations
Christine McNerney – Theology Teacher, Melbourne Central Catholic High School
Dana Johnston – English/Media Teacher, Melbourne Central Catholic High School
Kaitlin Menner – Youth Ministry Coordinator, Blessed Sacrament Clermont
Deacon Phillip Mills – Seminarian
Sarah Pinto – Director of Philanthropy, The Catholic Foundation
Doris Quinones – Stewardship Director, The Catholic Foundation
Marco Robles – Data Manager, The Catholic Foundation
Maria Scarbino – Director of Spiritual Development, Bishop Moore Catholic High School
Lori Tolland – Board Member/Chair of Women’s Philanthropic Giving Circle, The Catholic Foundation
Rachel Youngs – Board Member, The Catholic Foundation

More information

The Marian Contest is administered through the Father Frank X. Zammit Endowment Fund at The Catholic Foundation of Central Florida in conjunction with the Secretariat of Education and Secretariat of Laity, Family and Life. If you have any questions, please contact Lisa Henrickson at (407) 246-7177.

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