Maryknoll Magazine Announces 2016 Student Essay Winners; Honors Students from Delaware, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia


“Caring For Our Common Home” Respects the Earth, Calls for End to Exploiting God’s Gift

Contact: Mike Virgintino, Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, 914-941-7636 ext 2219

MARYKNOLL, N.Y., Feb. 23, 2017 /Christian Newswire/ — Six middle and high school students representing Delaware, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia have received cash awards for their winning submissions in “Maryknoll” magazine’s 28th annual Maryknoll Student Essay Contest. “Maryknoll” magazine is published by the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.

The 2016 essay theme, “Caring for Our Common Home,” referenced Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si'” in which he calls on all people to respect and to stop exploiting our world and its limited and diminishing resources. “The earth cries out to us,” wrote Pope Francis, “because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.” 

For their essays, students were asked to explain the importance of heeding the pope’s call and to provide at least two examples of students, or others, engaged in activities that respect the earth. 

The contest received 7,261 entries from students who competed in two divisions (grades six to eight and grades nine to 12) for nearly $3,000 in cash prizes. The awards included $1,000 for each of the two first-place finalists, $300 for each of the two second-place finalists and $150 for each of the two third-place award recipients.

According to Marge Gaughan, contest coordinator and “Maryknoll” magazine managing editor, students are passionate about protecting the environment, and their essays reflected many creative ideas and actions that are designed to correct centuries of abuse of God’s creation. 

The panel of more than 50 judges comprised of Maryknoll missioners was elated to read the essays that conveyed thousands of examples of people caring for the earth. 

“Every year, it is a delight to read the essays submitted to the Maryknoll Student Essay Contest,” said Father Emile Dumas, M.M. “This year was no exception. The essays are a good way to connect with the young folks. They renew my hope in the future of the Catholic Church in the U.S. and throughout the world. I pray for all the students and teachers who participated in the essay contest. May God continue to generously bless them! May they bring to our global village the peace, hope, joy and justice our global village needs.”

The essays written by the first-place winners in each category will be published in the May/June 2017 issue of “Maryknoll” magazine. All winning entries also will be published online at

The 2016 Maryknoll Student Essay Contest Awards will be presented to:

    Division I (grades six to eight)

    First Place ($1,000): The Bishop Francis X. Ford Award is named in honor of the Maryknoll missioner who died in a prison in China during 1952.

    • Grace Smith (eighth grade), Ursuline Academy, Wilmington, Delaware. Teacher/catechist: Ms. Mary Anne Voitus
    Second Place ($300)
    • Ellie Kooney (eighth grade), St. Gerard School, Lansing, Michigan. Teacher/catechist: Ms. Jennifer Jowett
    Third Place ($150)
    • Tobin Doherty (eighth grade), Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic School, Vienna, Virginia. Teacher/catechist: Mrs. Cynthia Iannone
    Division II (grades nine to 12)

    First Place ($1,000): The Bishop Patrick J. Byrne Award is named for the Maryknoll missioner who died on a forced march in Korea during 1950.

    • Meenu Johnkutty (12th grade), Kennedy Catholic High School, Somers, New York. Teacher/catechist: Ms. Susan Willis
    Second Place ($300)
    • Katie Hess (12th grade), Bethlehem Catholic High School, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Teacher/catechist: Mr. Robert Gowell
    Third Place ($150)
    • Joseph D’Agostino (ninth grade), St. Thomas Academy, Mendota Heights, Minnesota. Teacher/catechist: Ms. Kristin Vanyo 
The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers follow Jesus in serving the poor and others in need in 22 countries that include the U.S. All Catholics are called to mission through baptism and confirmation, and Maryknoll’s mission education outreach in parishes and schools throughout the country engages U.S. Catholics in mission through vocations, prayer, donations and as volunteers. Maryknoll missioners share God’s love and the Gospel in addressing poverty, providing healthcare, building communities and promoting human rights. For more information, visit the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers at

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