“In the challenging times that we live in, it is our faith that Christ is our hope in every season of life,” said Dr. Philip Fromuth, superintendent for Catholic education, at the “Stand Up for Life” essay contest award ceremony Jan. 19 at St. Francis of Assisi, Allentown.
“Christ Our Hope: In Every Season of Life” was this year’s theme for the Junior and Senior Divisions, prompting students to affirm the value of the human person at every stage from conception to natural death.
A collaboration between the Secretariat for Catholic Life and Evangelization and the Knights of Columbus, the essay contest garnered more than 600 submissions from middle and high school students throughout the Diocese.
Opening prayer was offered by Father Andrew Torma, M.S.C. Awards were presented by Annie Sarlo, secretary for Catholic life and evangelization, and John Philipavage, Knights of Columbus.
“We pray that our society will embrace the values that made us a great nation – the values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all,” said Fromuth during his opening remarks. “As faithful Catholics, we must be voices of hope to help those in need and reach out to protect the lives of those most vulnerable in our society.”
Fromuth, who has been involved with the essay contest for more than 35 years, told the finalists and their families that even though we live in a society that values being politically correct, we must first and foremost demonstrate being profoundly Catholic.
“The challenges are clear, but the message is too often clouded in our secular society,” he said. “As people of faith, we must speak out on the attacks on the rights of all our citizens in every season of their life.”
It takes courage to proclaim pro-life message
By Alexa Smith, Director, Office of Youth, Young Adult and Family Ministry
After presentation of the awards, a keynote address was offered by Matthew Brumley, parishioner of St. Joseph the Worker, Orefield, and member of Lehigh Valley Pro-Life Future. In his remarks, Brumley called upon John 3:16.
“What does it mean for God to love the world so much that he would give his son to save it? What could be so valuable?” he asked.
Brumley explained it was not the vegetation nor the animals that made the world so precious, though they are beautiful. It was humanity, the pinnacle of creation, that God himself deemed priceless.
“Because of this, human life is inviolable,” said Brumley. “Because of this, any act against the dignity of life is unequivocally prohibited by God and his Church, and we must do everything in our power to uphold this universal truth.”
Brumley noted that it requires great courage for us to stand up in the public square to proclaim the pro-life message, and that it is vital to do so.
“We are in the midst of a war between the Culture of Life and the Culture of Death, and millions of lives hang in the balance,” he said.
Calling the audience to action, he discussed the importance of changing the culture through more than our words and conversations.
“We are called to go beyond the political sphere and intellectual discussion,” he said. “There are many people immersed in the Culture of Death who are looking for a way out, who are crying out from the darkness. As Catholics, we must bear the light of hope so that they can walk back into communion with God.”
Brumley noted that works of mercy, such as feeding the hungry or volunteering at shelters, are every bit as important to the Gospel of Life as the intellectual discussions in the political sphere.
He challenged his listeners to make frequent use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
“It is the imperative moral duty of all of us as Catholics to protect human life from womb to tomb,” said Brumley.
‘Stand Up for Life’ essay winners
Winners for the Senior Division (grades 9-12): first place, Katherine Joyce, Blue Mountain High School, Schuylkill Haven; second place, Luke Messina, Nativity BVM High School, Pottsville.
Winners for the Junior Division (grades 7-8): first place, Megan Reaman, St. Jerome Regional School, Tamaqua; second place, Giavanna Randich, St. Theresa School, Hellertown.
Honorable mention in Senior Division: Karla Elias, Allentown Central Catholic High School (ACCHS); Aaron Janis Jr., ACCHS; Keith Neidig, Bethlehem Catholic High School (Becahi); Gabriel Velez, Becahi.
Honorable mention in Junior Division: Angela Meiss, St. Jerome Regional School, Tamaqua; Tyler Nolt, LaSalle Academy, Shillington; Kate Redmond, St. Thomas More School, Allentown; Sam Salari, St. Thomas More; Jordan Smith, St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Easton; Sara Witmer, LaSalle Academy, Shillington.