The 2024 Columban Schools Media Competition on ‘Biodiversity Matters’ has one more month to run. The dedicated website has had more than 5,000 page views over the past four months and entries of Images and Writing submissions from Britain and Ireland are coming in through the website.
The title: ‘Biodiversity Matters’ picks up on a core aspect of the Columban mission being justice, peace and ecology, and it is engaging young people. Cash prizes are awarded to the winning entrants and the first prize in Britain is an impressive £500! Image entries so far show bees, flowers, trees and sealife, alongside dangers from climate change, pollution, habitat loss and overexploitation by humanity. Positive titles in written entries include: ‘Why biodiversity matters’ and ‘Building a sustainable future’.
Some entries have highlighted that concern for creation is a theme of Catholic Social Teaching. Pope Francis is quoted for his stark words in ‘Laudato Si’ that “because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God … we have no such right”. And more recent words in ‘Laudate Deum’: “The world sings of an infinite Love: how can we fail to care for it?”
The competition is aimed at students aged between 13-18 years old. It is looking for entries that demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the issue of Biodiversity and highlight people, communities and organisations trying to build a sustainable future.
Catholic experts on environmental protection and education – including Columban eco-theologian Fr Sean McDonagh and Mary Colwell – are among the judges. In Britain, the assistant editor of the Tablet, Ruth Gledhill, is a judge and the editor of Independent Catholic News, Josephine Siedlecka.
In his role as a Columban Education Worker in Britain, James Trewby has run workshops, retreats and assemblies in many schools to promote justice, peace and the integrity of creation. He says: “In a world of increasing globalisation and environmental degradation, management of biological diversity is one of the most important and critical challenges facing humankind today and the Columbans are keen to provide an opportunity for young people to engage with this issue.”
The closing date is 17 February 2024 and winners will be announced on Columban media on 21 March 2024, the International Day of Forests.