ORLANDO | One hundred eighty-nine faith-filled middle school students expressed their thoughts on how to bring Jesus to others, like Mary, through their entries submitted for the annual Marian Essay Contest.
Combining Catholic scripture, history, reflection and personal testimony, the students aimed to share ways to emulate the Blessed Mother.
The annual Marian Essay Contest was established through The Catholic Foundation of Central Florida’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’s first-place winner, Sarah Z., is an eighth-grader at Annunciation Catholic Academy in Altamonte Springs.
Sarah reflected on the idea noting, “In order to imitate Mary, we should start by acting out of love for others instead of seeking benefit for ourselves.”
“There are countless ways to imitate Mary and bring Christ to others,” Sarah wrote in her essay. “Mary loved Jesus and cared for Him without expecting anything in return. She was humble, faithful, and brought the light of Christ to everyone. It may seem hard to detach ourselves from the natural desire for recognition, but the reward for doing so – harmony in Heaven – is so glorious that we can endure that difficult transition. We can imitate Mary by selflessly giving others gifts of love, hope, and Jesus. If we do everything out of love for others and God, we won’t have to worry about being number one, because we will know that the greatest reward is eternal life in Heaven.”
On May 22, Catholic Foundation President Kimberlee Riley and Vice-President Madelyn Weed, joined Patty Kahle, Annunciation’s principal, Father Ivan Olmo and the entire student body during morning prayer at Annunciation to present Sarah with her $1,000 grant award.
Other winners: Top seventh/eighth grade entry: Cristy H., St. Andrew Catholic School, Orlando; top fifth/sixth grade entry: Aimee G., St. James Cathedral School in Orlando.
By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic staff, June 9, 2023