Mnd Student Wins National Essay Contest

A Cincinnati area student won a national essay contest and will use the proceeds to give back to the community. 

St. Vincent de Paul volunteer and Mount Notre Dame student Sarah Ray won the high school division of the St. Vincent de Paul youth essay contest. Other winners were selected from the middle school, elementary, and primary divisions.

The contest encouraged students to write a 300-350 word essay about how St. Vincent de Paul inspired Frederick Ozanam and Rosalie Rendu, founders of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to live by the motto: "Bring good news to the poor." Winners received an iPad Pro and $250 to go toward a service project of her choice. 

Sarah elected for the money to support MND's St. Vincent de Paul Conference in support of a Dismas Journey being hosted in March in conjunction with the St. Julie Conference, St. Michael's adult Conference, and the HELP program.

Read Sarah's winning essay below:

Frédéric Ozanam was first introduced to poverty when he walked through impoverished Paris suburbs as he traveled to Sorbonne University. He soon became aware of the hopelessness many families felt as a result of the Cholera epidemic. After he was questioned about how he was living out his faith, he began to bring practical assistance of food and firewood to the porches of the poor. He soon realized that while the physical assistance he was providing for his neighbors was important, it was the less tangible things such as empathy and compassion that meant so much more. Frédéric and his friends began to meet weekly to strengthen their friendship, relationship with God, and answer to the needs of those they served. They formed the first St. Vincent de Paul conference in 1833 and the society is now operating in 140 countries with over 800,000 members worldwide.

 Bringing good news to the poor is not simply providing physical needs such as food, clothing, or housing to our neighbors. It is catering to their mental and spiritual needs and making sure that their dignity is being upheld. Sometimes it is our kind words and understanding that mean more than the physical items we give our neighbors. Through calling our neighbors by their names as we help them through the food pantry, spending time talking to them on a home visit, or acknowledging them on the street, we show that we value them. It is that feeling of being cared for that can give them the strength and hope to persevere. Similar to Frédéric, I believe the small acts of kindness we do such as bringing cookies to the neighbors we visit on home visits or a prayer and a hug after delivering Christmas gifts makes a difference. Through bringing awareness to the injustices many of our neighbors face, and changing the stereotypes many have about our neighbors, I believe high school students can inspire others to want to make a change in the community and become better and do a little good too.