On April 20, 2016, 125 finalists in the Annual Respect Life Creative Writing Contest gathered at the Cardinal Rigali Center to be recognized for their outstanding entries.
These finalists, representing over 80 different Catholic elementary schools, parish schools of religion, and home schools, were selected from over 1100 entries. Finalists received a certificate of commendation, T-shirt, and book and were recognized by Bishop Edward Rice. Open to 8th graders in the Archdiocese, the contest asked students to respond to the prompt: Explain why living the virtue of chastity protects us from abortion and blesses us with true holiness, health, and happiness.
From these finalists, six students were recognized as honorable mention winners and five students were selected as scholarship winners. Honorable mention winners received a $250 award; the scholarship winners received a $1000 scholarship to be applied to their Catholic high school of choice. All honorable mention and scholarship winners also each received three tickets to the Annual Respect Life Convention in October, hosted by the Respect Life Apostolate.
Honorable mention winners this year are:
- Brianna Dierks from St. Patrick-Wentzville Grade School and Parish (Liberty High School)
- Taylor Elmore, a homeschooler from St. Bridget of Kildare Parish & PSR (St. Francis Borgia High School)
- Sara E. Franke from Queen of All Saints Grade School and Parish (Nerinx Hall)
- Patrick Meehan, a homeschooler from St. Dominic Savio Parish (Bishop Du Bourg High School)
- Peter Francis Montgomery from St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Homeschool and St. Clement of Rome Parish (St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Homeschool)
- Harrison Petty from St. Clement of Rome Grade School and Parish (Saint Louis University High School)
Scholarship winners this year are:
- Bishop Edward J. O'Donnell Scholarship: Maria Klassen from St. Joseph-Cottleville Grade School and Parish (St. Dominic High School)
- Mary Forrestal Hennessey Scholarship: Daniel Vaporean, a homeschooler from St. Joseph-Manchester Parish (Homeschool)
- Mr. & Mrs. George Kletzker Scholarships:
- Madeline Derleth from St. Joseph-Cottleville Grade School and Parish (Barat Academy)
- Elle Reardon from St. Clement of Rome Grade School and Parish (Villa Duchesne)
- Knights of Columbus Missouri State Council Scholarship: Eric Meyer from St. Charles Borromeo Grade School and Parish (Chaminade College Prep)
To read the winning essays, click on each student's name.
Congratulations to all of our finalists, honorable mention winners,
and scholarship winners!!
Above our scholarship and honorable mention winners pose for a photograph with Bishop Edward M. Rice, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Michael Auchley, Missouri Knights of Columbus Respect Life Director, and Brian Cochran, nephew of the late Bishop Edward O'Donnell after whom one of the scholarships is named. Winners pictured from left to right are Madeline Derleth, Maria Klassen, Daniel Vaporean, Taylor Elmore, Harrison Petty, Peter Francis Montgomery, Elle Reardon, Sara Franke, Brianna Dierks, Patrick Meehan, and Eric Meyer.
Maria Klassen from St. Joseph Grade School in Cottleville (St. Dominic H.S.) - Bishop Edward J. O'Donnell Scholarship Winner
The atrocity of harming a child
Is brought to its very height
In this supreme outrage of natural law
And trespass of human rights.
To kill a small child who’s not even born
But was always a part of God’s plan
Shows a coldness of heart and a lack of respect
For every woman and man.
I think that it’s time that we recognize
Each individual’s worth
And treat other people the way they deserve
Even before their birth.
Abortion and chastity are so much alike
In more ways than we realize
For to hurt a small child or a woman or man
Is surely akin in God’s eyes.
Each child of God has a dignity
That we must learn to protect
To lead one away from the kingdom of Heaven
Is not something we should accept.
We must learn to put others before our own lives
And safeguard innocence at all costs
If we don’t save this treasure before it’s too late
It’s not long before all will be lost.
You deserve true love, and so does your child
And so does everyone
And to be satisfied with less than enough
Is to give in, and say that you’re done.
We should search for true love, and wait for the one
Who is truly and perfectly right.
One who will help us to follow God’s laws
And keep the right path in our sight.
Fight for love, and fight for life,
And fight for all that is true
For you may be sure, although you can’t see it
God is fighting for you.
Daniel Vaporean, a homeschooler from St. Joseph in Manchester Parish (Home School) - Mary Forrestal Hennessey Scholarship Winner
Good versus Evil
Each day of our lives we bravely fight on a battlefield where evil clashes with good. Piously, St. Paul who preached to the Ephesians, advised to wear the spiritual “armor of God” for protection in battle. Utilizing the spiritual armor, which consists of the shield of faith, the breastplate of righteousness, and the helmet of salvation will help us to live chaste lives. By living chastely, while preventing the evil of abortion, we will be blessed with true holiness and our lives filled with health and happiness.
The shield of faith protects chastity by helping us to live as God planned, which is through obedience to the Ten Commandments and the teachings of the Catholic Church. Since God’s plan for marriage is the uniting, both physically and mentally, of one man and one woman, it is important that they commit to each other freely, fruitfully, faithfully, and forever. Living according to this plan, sexuality would only be shared by married couples who truly love each other. This would prevent the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy, which may lead to an abortion. The breastplate of righteousness assists in prudence and practicing self-control. Willfully avoiding movies, music, and pornography, which encourage unchaste behaviors, keeps our souls holy as we exercise good judgment. Dressing modestly avoids attention being drawn to our sexual bodies and allows friendships to develop which are not based on lust. In keeping our bodies chaste with the helmet of salvation, we will have healthy bodies and avoid the risk of getting sexual diseases which may cause suffering and death. Valiantly remembering to wear our spiritual armor, we will be protected by God and His teachings to live a life of chastity.
God desires the best for us. When we love as He wants us to love, we experience true joy and happiness. We will be content because we know we are following God’s unsurpassable plan. Abortion will be no more. Living our lives in this way will help us increase in virtue and holiness. By faithfully wearing our spiritual armor and living chastely, evil will be defeated and good will win!
Madeline Derleth from St. Joseph in Cottleville Grade School (Barat Academy) - Mr. & Mrs. George Kletzker Scholarship Winner
A Smile on God’s Face
There are many virtues that make us unique,
But chastity really requires us to think.
Created in God’s image we shall always cherish,
But forgetting chastity will cause us to perish.
Pure and holy our bodies must remain,
For if we forget, then a life of pain.
Our bodies were created in God’s image of great beauty.
Protecting it and keeping it safe is our duty.
True love waits for that special one,
Whether that be a spouse, staying single, or life as a nun.
Our society seems as if it has forgotten this virtue,
Saying it is alright to do things that hurt you.
Having sex on a first date,
It’s ok, you don’t have to wait.
Doesn’t anyone see the lies they say?
Innocent lives and the prices they’ll pay?
So many abortions because of this sin,
Giving up chastity so Satan will win.
Statistics don’t lie, they speak the truth,
So many abortions from those unchaste youth.
Eighty-three percent of abortions that take place,
Are on women who have not married in God’s holy space.
Forgetting chastity doesn’t only hurt you,
Innocent babies are suffering too.
Abortion is forever, you can’t go back,
So remember your worth to keep you on track.
Your health is important and must be treated with care,
But abortion will scar you and recovery is rare.
Your body and mind will never be the same,
Stay chaste and remember your health isn’t a game.
True happiness doesn’t come from what you get this minute,
Staying true to yourself and your values will win it.
Remember to think before you act,
Because once you do, you can never go back.
All life is precious and valuable too,
So stay chaste to be a happier you.
Remember that God loves you so much,
Remaining chaste will help keep you in touch.
Holiness is your goal to achieve,
Keeping your body pure is what you must believe.
Not only will you be filled with grace,
But you will put a smile on God’s face.
Elle Reardon from St. Clement of Rome Grade School (Villa Duchesne) - Mr. & Mrs. George Kletzker Scholarship Winner
As a teen, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by mixed messages related to moral issues. The idea that chastity protects us from abortion might initially sound unlikely. Choosing to have sex doesn’t necessarily mean someone supports abortion. Although in reality, the compromises made in deciding to live an unchaste life can lead to further compromises in believing abortion is acceptable. Chastity is crucial for prohibiting abortion because it prevents the circumstances where someone would seek an abortion. Chastity protects us from worrying about unplanned pregnancies and feeling pressured to resort to an abortion.
Chastity blesses us with true holiness, health, and happiness because it honors a commitment to yourself, your future spouse, and the Holy Spirit. It may seem like chastity is depriving us from happiness because of social media’s influence giving us an inside view of what others are doing minute by minute, hour by hour, and day by day. Jenny went to Paris! Joe got a hoverboard! The latest posts make it appear as though happiness is found in having new and exciting experiences. Your life can look boring in comparison, making you doubt your own choices, leaving you with fear of missing out. It may distort your perception of what is morally acceptable because “everyone else is doing it.” What isn’t’ seen in those online posts is how one teenager cried herself to sleep feeling ashamed for having sex or how another teen felt scared to learn he had a sexually transmitted disease. There was also the girl whose parents were mourning because she felt forced to have an abortion for fear of embarrassment. Chastity truly protects us from negative consequences.
Our relationships are strengthened by valuing the gift of chastity. True happiness is found in the joy of honoring God and in being mindful of moments in life that give genuine meaning to your beliefs. I believe abortion is morally wrong and that chastity is the first step in saving millions of unborn lives. I challenge you to step up and commit to honor the virtue of chastity as your personal vow to protect the unborn.
Eric Meyer from St. Charles Borromeo Grade School (Chaminade College Prep) - Knights of Columbus Missouri State Council Scholarship Winner
The Past, Present, and Future of Chastity
When I was younger, life seemed simple. My parents made all of my decisions. There were few differences between the boys and girls in my class. I never thought about chastity because I didn’t know what it was and it was not an important issue. I learned the difference between right and wrong, but the situations I faced never seemed life-changing. I realize now how easy things were back then and sometimes wish they were still that way.
Now times are different. My parents are beginning to trust me to make my own decisions. Some decisions are small, like what to eat for dinner. Other choices aren’t so simple. For example, whether to join in when other boys are behaving poorly so I can look like I am part of the “popular crowd.” As a teenager, I am starting to understand what the virtue of chastity means. Chastity refers to having pure thoughts and actions. The relationships I have with my female classmates are different now because we are changing physically and emotionally. I must remember to treat them respectfully and not make crude comments while texting or in person. Chastity is also not having sexual relations before marriage. When I am older and have a girlfriend, chastity will be more of an issue. But I know if I stay strong in my faith and live a chaste life, I will not have to worry about STDs, pregnancies, or abortions. This seems like an easy decision, doesn’t it?
In the future, I hope to get married. It would make me happy to tell my wife that I remained chaste and I would love for her to say the same thing to me. It would be nice to begin our life together knowing that our past decisions will lead to holiness, health, and happiness in our marriage. I think that being a role model for my children is also important. If throughout our lives we stay close to God and practice the virtue of chastity, there will be no need for abortions and we will have a life full of blessings.