The Office of Marriage and Family Life at the Diocese of Duluth recently held its fifth annual respect life essay contest for middle and high school students. The theme of the contest was “Be Not Afraid!”
Runners up are:
Second place: Anna Kopacek, St. Joseph’s School and Church, Grand Rapids
Third place: Douglas Jesperson, St. Joseph’s School and Church, Grand RapidsHonorable mention: Ian Christian, Stella Maris Academy St. John’s Campus, Duluth
Second place: Emily Guzik, Immaculate Heart Parish, Crosslake
Third place: Aaron Rud, St. Rose Church, Proctor
Below are the first place winners in each category:
By William “Alexey” Schroeder, St. Joseph’s School and Church, Grand Rapids
Be Not Afraid
In 2005, in Russia, there were 1,415,799 babies born. That same year, 1,675,693 Rusian babies lost their lives to abortion. That’s more than half of Russian children. I am thankful that I was not one of those. In the United States, that same year, one out of every five babies lost their lives because of abortions. We, all of us who are living, are the survivors.
Why would so many mothers do that? Maybe they are scared? Maybe they are afraid that they cannot take care of their children. Maybe they had a bad home. Maybe they feel like they do not have enough money.
Do not be afraid. God gave you a baby as a very special gift. If you abort your child, you might think you’ve taken care of a problem, but deep inside of you, you care. Your baby has a life, and it is not your life to choose. Having a baby can be fun, but it is much more than fun; it’s one of the most serious responsibilities any of us can have. There are organizations and programs that can help women who wish to keep their babies. And even if raising the baby herself is not possible, the woman can always choose adoption for her child, giving joy to another family desperately wanting to adopt a child.
“Your eyes looked upon my embryo, and everything was recorded in your book. The days scheduled for my formation were inscribed, even though not one of them had come yet” (Psalm 139:16). God has a plan for each of us from the very beginning. Do not be afraid to live it.
By Emma Stokman, St. Joseph’s Church, Crosby
Open and Unlocked
John Paul’s first words a pope were “Be not afraid!” But honestly, it’s not easy to live without fear. Read the headlines, shootings, terrorism, threats of nuclear war; it’s frightening. Is it possible to live and not be afraid?
“Open the door of your heart to Christ,” Pope John Paul continued. Living without fear must have something to do with opening my heart. Closing my heart, then, has something to do with being afraid.
Last week my youth group volunteered to sing in the memory-care unit. I didn’t want to go. I was afraid. What could I do? I decided to pray and ask for courage. Don’t get me wrong; it was still hard to go; something about seeing the elderly completely dependent reminds me of death. I don’t like it. I tried talking to the residents, but everyone seemed asleep.
“Maybe MaryAnn could join you,” the aide said as she wheeled a hunched-over woman who looked completely out of it into the room. Nervously, I bent to her eye-level. “Ready to sing?” I asked. No response. She stared. She said nothing. “Well, I hope you enjoy!” Grabbing my guitar, we started “Amazing Grace” and followed with Beatles’ songs.
Surprisingly, a beautiful voice, clear and on-key, resounded on my left. “Who’s singing?” I wondered, “She knows every word. Is it the nurses-aide?” Whoa! Ringing out to “Let It Be” was MaryAnn. My fear vanished.
Through MaryAnn, I heard the voice of Christ speaking to my heart. Prayer opened the gate. Throughout my day, when fear hits, I’m learning that prayer is the key that unlocks the door for Christ to come in, and once Christ enters, I’m no longer afraid.