THE Columban Missionaries in Britain and Ireland have launched their latest Schools Media Competition, with the title ‘Biodiversity Matters’. The launch takes place in the Season of Creation, when Christian communities around the world focus on valuing and protecting God’s creation. Core aspects of Columban mission are justice, peace and ecology.

The competition is aimed at students age 13 to 18 who are invited to explore Biodiversity – the richness of life forms on Earth and upon which humanity relies for health, food and well-being. Entries should be pieces of writing or images that demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the issue of Biodiversity, and which highlight people, communities and/or organisations trying to build a sustainable future.

Columbans worldwide see the devastating impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss on people and the environment as interwoven moral issues, in need of prophetic responses. Inspiration for action is drawn from the 2015 teaching document by Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, in which Pope Francis said that, “because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God … We have no such right”.

Columban Justice and Peace Education Worker in Britain James Trewby visits schools and sixth forms and runs workshops, retreats and assemblies to promote justice, peace and the integrity of creation. He says: “I’m delighted that the Columban Schools Media Competition this year focuses on the theme of Biodiversity. 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. The Columbans are keen to nurture the student voice and provide an opportunity for young people to engage with this issue.”

Encouraging creativity and faith engagement with issues in the world today, this year’s competition welcomes both written and image entries until the closing date of 17 February 2024. Winners will be announced on Columban media on 21 March 2024, the International Day of Forests.

Two separate competitions will be judged, one for students in Ireland and one for students in Britain. Cash prizes will be awarded to the winning entrants and the first prize is £500 or 500 Euros.

Competition judges include journalists who write for the Irish News, The Irish Times, The Tablet and Independent Catholic News, alongside Catholic experts on environmental protection and education, including Columban eco-theologian Fr Sean McDonagh, Mary Colwell and Jane Mellett.

Winning entries will be published in the Columbans’ Far East magazine, Vocation for Justice newsletter, Columban websites in Ireland and Britain, Columban social media and in other Catholic media.

The Columban Competition website will be a useful resource for potential competition entrants, with information on the theme, examples of Church work on Biodiversity, Catholic Social Teaching on the theme of Biodiversity, and information about inspirational Catholics working on the issue. There are also details on submission of entries and an FAQ page. The website provides material suitable for students, teachers and parents.

This is the seventh annual School’s Media Competition. Past themes have included Migrants, Climate Change, Racism, 21st Century Changemakers and Peace.

* More information on the competition website here.

* Source: Columban Missionaries Britain and Ireland