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Students Integrate Faith and Life in 14th Annual Essay Contest

Does God have a house that He lives in?

This was a question Cardinal Daniel DiNardo posed to students at the Mass and awards ceremony for the 14th Annual University of St. Thomas/Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Essay Contest.

DiNardo’s answer: “Yes. God’s house is a verb not a noun though.”

His emphasis on the parts of speech showed the young writers that God is bigger than a singular building; His house is an action as he lives in the community of Christians who worship Him.

5th grade student participant in the Essay ContestThere were 8,056 students—third-graders through high school seniors—who wrote essays for the contest, sponsored by the UST Office of Catholic Outreach. Their topics covered what it means to be a leader, the importance of Catholic schools, and the promises of the Rosary.

For senior Triciajane Asuncion of Incarnate Word Academy, her experience with her high school community led to a deepened understanding of God’s love.

“The foundation of a benevolent sisterhood has opened my eyes to Christ’s presence and has helped me form into a stronger Catholic.”

Triciajane Asuncion Asuncion won first place for 12th grade. She and the authors of all the winning essays were recognized and given a rosary from the Vatican blessed by Pope Francis as well as a UST leapel pin and a prayer card.

High School Winners Earned UST Scholarships

Of all the essays submitted, schools selected finalists for each grade level, and were read and ranked by UST faculty members, staff members and alumni, who chose winners.

The first and second place winners in 11th and 12th grades received a $2,000 scholarship to UST, if they enroll.

11th Grade:

First Place: Emma Bradley – St. Pius X

12th Grade:

First Place: Triciajane Asuncion – Incarnate word Academy

First Place Winners

The essays of all first place winners were enlarged as posters and put on display at the reception that followed the awards ceremony.

  • 3rd Grade: Justin James, St. Francis of Assisi
  • 3rd Grade: Juliet DeLaRosa, St. Mary (League City)
  • 4th Grade: Emma Trinh, St. Francis de Sales
  • 4th Grade: Elizabeth Trinh, St. Francis de Sales
  • 5th Grade: Hayden McCready, St. Mary Magdalene (Humble)
  • 6th Grade: Flynn Burrell, St. Rose of Lima
  • 7th Grade: Arielle Caranto, St. Laurence (Sugar Land)
  • 8th Grade: Gabrielle Norman, St. Martha (Kingwood)
  • 9th Grade: Jilie Hermosa, St. Agnes Academy
  • 9th Grade: Sasha Durocher, St. Pius X
  • 10th Grade: Ella Salazar, St. Agnes Academy
  • 10th Grade: Emma Tran, St. Agnes Academy

Read all first place essays

The Importance of Catholic Writers

4th Grade Winners, Emma and Elizabeth TrinhThe Essay Contest award ceremony fell on the feast day of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers and journalists, emphasizing the importance the written word has had in the history of the Church.

Dr. Debra Haney, Interim Superintendent of Catholic Schools, said that tradition is continued through the Essay Contest.

“The Essay Contest supports our Catholic curriculum, especially in religious education and language arts, by asking the students to reflect on their life, faith and how the two are integrated.”

See all Essay Contest Photos

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