Image credit: The Columbian Missionary Society

YOUNG PEOPLE AGED 13-18 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?

‘Anyone can make a difference: 21st Century Changemakers’ is the theme for the 2022 schools’ media competition launched by the Columban Missionary Society this week.

The 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 11 February 2022 and winners will be announced on 11 March 2022. Two separate competitions will be judged by professional journalists, one for students in Ireland and one for those in Britain. Cash prizes of £300, £150 and £100 will be awarded to three winners in each category. Winning entries will also be published in the 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.

During the pandemic, Fr Ed O’Connell in Peru has been supporting over 400 students in a special needs school and their families, helping them with food, money and reading materials. Through him, the Columbans have helped communal kitchens in poor areas purchase vegetables, chicken or fish, gas for cooking and bio-security equipment. In Britain, lay missionaries Sophia Chee Tzu Ting and Teresa Ling Chuah Hui support Fatima House, a project in Birmgingham providing sanctuary for female asylum seekers, and outreach initiatives to those living on the streets.

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 Columban 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 while encouraging their creativity and faith engagement with issues in the world today.

* More information on the competition, and advice on submitting an article or image here.

* Source: Columban Missionaries Britain