By Diedre Mangin
Kit Cotros, Garrett McFadden, and Will Brown were recognized for excellence in the Citizenship Essay Contest sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Holy Cross Assembly.
Each year, the Knights of Columbus Holy Cross Assembly invites eighth graders in their community to reflect and comment on their responsibilities as Catholic citizens in the form of an essay contest. This contest is a wonderful opportunity for these young men and women to affirm their faith and patriotism as they prepare for the transition to high school and the Sacrament of Confirmation. The theme of the essay is "The Responsibility of a Catholic Citizen in a Free Society." Students reflect on the tenets of their faith and the challenges they face as Catholic Christians in an increasingly secular society. The Knights of Columbus organizational website outlines the reasons for sponsoring essay contests like the one in Germantown. The website states, As Catholics we are called to participate in the political life of our country. This can be difficult at times because our beliefs are often misunderstood and unpopular. Also, laws and regulations from our governments can be contrary to our beliefs and threaten to force us to violate our conscience.
Students at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School in Germantown participated in the essay contest sponsored by the Holy Cross Assembly. A committee of knights identified three winners and the students were presented with awards in May. The OLPH winners were Garrett McFadden, Will Brown, and Kit Cotros. Garrett McFadden was the 1st place winner. His essay follows.
The responsibilities of a Catholic citizen in a free society
By Garrett McFadden
I believe that our responsibilities as a Catholic Citizen can relate to our goal as human beings. Our goal is to know God, love God and serve God. Catholics have a duty to God, their families and their neighbors. If we follow these responsibilities, we can be the ideal Catholics in a free society.
We need to know God by attending Mass. One of the Precepts of the Church is to go to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. If we do not attend Mass, we cannot truly learn about God and His Son, Jesus. Another way to know God is by reading the Bible. If we read the Bible and attend Mass as well, then the two complement each other perfectly. Especially if you read the readings for the upcoming Mass in your free time, then you can personally relate when the priest is giving the homily. Another way to know God is by attending scripture studies which teach you more about the Bible. Another great way to know God is by being involved in the Mass. As children and adults, you can be an altar server. As adults, you can fill a number of roles with your particular gifts such as the Cantor, who leads the Church in song, the Lector, who spreads the Word of God to the congregation, the Children's Liturgy worker, who helps children to know God, or an Usher, who assists the congregation in many ways. We are all called to a certain vocation and it is our responsibility to know what God calls us to be and to do our best at following that vocation which is an integral part of our faith life.
We also need to love God to fulfill our responsibilities. We can love God by attending Mass, but especially by attending Confession. We need to go to Confession to let God know that we are sorry for our sins. We also can let God know that we love him by praying. Praying only a few times a day can let God know how much you love him and strengthen your relationship with Him. Prayer is powerful and remembering others in our prayers such as neighbors, government officials and even strangers will benefit not only you, but all the people around you. Trying not to sin is another great way to let God know that you love Him by honoring your Parents, not wishing you had something others have and not being mean to others. Following these rules is a building block of your relationship with God and making your relationship with Him much greater. As humans, we are inclined to sin, but we can do our best to stop them. We have free will, so we can make that decision. A good citizen not only loves God, but also loves his country and the people in his country.
We also need to serve God. We can do this by helping others such as volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the sick and elderly or helping at an animal shelter. Get involved with a service project or volunteer at St. Jude Children's Hospital. Attend a pro-life rally and show your support to defend all life. Work with youth by coaching children in sports or being a counselor at vacation bible school. Help those in need by giving generously to the poor or to other charities like Birthright or Room in the Inn. We also need to serve each other and can do that by just being a loyal friend. The best way to serve your friends is not through giving them material things, but through being there for them when they need it most. A great way to teach others about knowing God is by talking with them. Every once in a while, have a nice conversation with a friend about your faith. This allows both you and your friend grow spiritually.
There are many requirements to being a Catholic in a free society, but following these simple responsibilities will make you and God become great friends. As Catholics we are surrounded by difficult challenges such as abortion, poverty and violence but we should strive to be role models so that Christ is present in all that we do. Most importantly, practice your faith, do good works and act as a leader to others. We must follow God while making positive contributions to society.
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