Young people aged between 13-18 years are being asked to consider who in the world today is doing something about inequality, injustice, exclusion and environmental degradation. What can they teach us? How can we draw on our own faith and personal experience to be changemakers? This year’s theme is based on a quote from young climate campaigner Greta Thunberg who has said, “no one is too small to make a difference.” She, and many others internationally, stand out for their mission to create a more just, peaceful and sustainable world.
The competition is open for writing and image entries until 11th February 2022 and winners will be announced on 11th March 2022. Two separate competitions will be judged, one for students in Ireland and one for students in Britain and high-profile judges from the world of journalism have been secured. Winning entries will be published in the Columbans’s Far East magazine, Vocation For Justice newsletter, online on Columban websites in Ireland and Britain, shared on Columban social media and published in other Catholic media.
A core aspect of Columban mission is justice, peace and ecology. Columban changemakers include Fr. Seán McDonagh, who worked in the Philippines for two decades and is renowned for his leadership on climate change and care for the environment. Also, Fr. Pat Cunningham, who works in South Korea and is active with the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative and a campaign to protest the militarisation of the beautiful island of Jeju.
Marjorie Engcoy is a Columban Lay Missionary who lives and works in Fiji. She is currently working as the Columban JPIC Officer and spends a lot of time working with James to facilitate encounters between young people with whom he works with in schools, educating them on the climate crisis and encouraging them take responsibility for caring for creation.
During the pandemic, Fr. Ed O’Connell in Peru supported students and their families attending Manuel Duato, a special needs school, helping them with food, money and reading materials. Through him, the Columbans have helped communal kitchens in poor areas purchase vegetables, chicken, fish, gas for cooking and bio-security equipment.
Columban Justice and Peace Education Worker, James Trewby, runs training for teachers and workshops with young people encouraging engagement with key issues of our time, inspired by Catholic Social Teaching. He says: “Pope Francis has recognised that young people demand change, and this competition is a great chance to celebrate those who are actually doing it, putting their faith into action for the common good. I can’t wait to see whose stories young people choose to highlight.”
This is the fifth annual competition for young people, with past themes looking at Migrants, Climate Change, Throwaway culture, and Racism. Last year, the competition attracted almost 300 entries from nearly 100 schools across Britain and Ireland. The Columbans are delighted that the competition provides an opportunity to give young people a voice whilst encouraging their creativity and faith engagement with issues in the world today.