Photo courtesy of USCCB
Photo courtesy of USCCB

By EmmaLee Italia | Correspondent

Entries are now being accepted for the Diocese’s annual Respect Life Poster, Essay and Photo-Meme Contest for kindergarten through eighth grade.

The 2017-2018 contest theme is “Be Not Afraid.” Participation is open to children enrolled in Catholic grammar schools, parish religious education programs, junior youth programs and home-schooled students.

Rachel Hendricks, diocesan coordinator of Respect Life Ministry in the Department of Pastoral Care, which is sponsoring the contest, said participants are asked to create an original poster, essay or “photo meme” that pertains to respect life issues and reflects the “Be Not Afraid” theme.

“The hope is that they have an opportunity to think about respect life issues in a personal, creative way, whether using their writing or artistic talents to convey a strong pro-life message,” Hendricks said.

“In past years, it always seems like students rise to the occasion and use their interest in their faith to come up with some impressive entries,” she said.

Children can enter one of six categories by age and media: Grades K-2 – posters; grades 3-5 – posters; grades 3-5 – essay; grades 6-8 – posters; grades 6-8 – essay; grades 6-8 – photo meme. The photo meme category replaces the previous years’ video option.

Posters must be at least 8.5 by 11 inches and no larger than 20 by 30 inches. Essays must be between 400 and 500 words, typed and submitted in PDF format. The photo meme, pronounced “meem,” is a photo with a caption. The meme should reflect the seriousness of the contest theme and be an original photo. Submissions should be printed out and mailed, not sent electronically.

Hendricks and the Respect Life Ministry are hoping that the meme option will encourage students to work individually rather than as part of a group. “It’s also potentially something we could use on diocesan social media,” she said.

Each poster, essay or photo meme must be received by the school principal, director or coordinator of religious education or junior youth ministry leader by Jan. 5 for preliminary review, as only one entry from each of the six categories may be submitted to the Diocese by a particular school or program. Home-schooling parents may submit their child or children’s entries without this preliminary review. Contest submissions will be accepted at the Diocese through Jan. 12.

Entries will be judged on creativity, clarity of message and visual appeal. Prizes of $100 will be awarded to one winning entry in each of the six categories, diocesan-wide. Prizes of $40 will be awarded to the first runner-up in each county.

Winners will receive their prizes at the Respect Life Mass on March 4 in their home counties. Mass sites will be announced soon. Entries can be submitted to: Diocese of Trenton, Department of Pastoral Care, c/o Respect Life Contest – Rachel Hendricks, 701 Lawrenceville Road, Trenton, NJ 08648.

For more information, call 609-403-7192, email rhendr@dioceseoftrenton.org or visit the Diocese of Trenton website.