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Young Catholics get a voice

Staff  |  24 August 2017

Australian Catholics magazine, in conjunction with Australian Catholic University, is proud to announce the winners of this year’s Young Journalist Award.

The award, now in its 21st year, is aimed at encouraging students in Catholic schools to use the media to make a difference. Students are encouraged to find inspiring people and stories in their community and to share those stories with the world.

This year’s theme was ‘Justice Heroes’. Students were asked to write about a hero from their own community.

More than 1000 students from across Australia entered this year’s awards – a record number of entries.

Refugee student shares her story

This year’s Junior Section (Years 5 and 6) winner is a refugee from Iraq. Sarah Sona from St Dominic’s Primary School in Broadmeadows wrote about how her family fled Isis into Jordan, where she encountered her ‘justice heroes’ – Caritas. She writes:

People from an organization called Caritas Jordan welcomed us when we arrived in Jordan. They helped us get some food and clothes and a place to live. We had to live with ten other families at the same place but I thank God that we were safe. The Caritas people were very kind, trying to make us forget the pain of leaving our families and friends in Iraq. There were some teachers from Caritas coming to help the children to learn English.

The life I have now would not have been possible without the wonderful people of Caritas. They are the real justice heroes and I would never forget them.

The runner-up in the Junior Section was Hannah Dowling, from St Justin’s Catholic Primary School in Oran Park, NSW. Hannah wrote about an inspiring Josephite sister at her school. She writes:

I was interested in the sacrifices Sister Mary had made to answer God’s call to religious life. ‘I sold the house and car I owned and gave the money to charity’, she said. ‘I also gave up a trip overseas and the idea of marriage.’ There’s no regret in her voice. No wistful look in her eyes. These decisions were made comfortably and even made her feel ‘lighter’, she shares.

Teen hero inspires winner

This year’s Intermediate Section (Years 7, 8 and 9) winner is Noelle Ramirez, from Montgrove College in Orchards Hill, NSW.

Noelle wrote about 16-year-old Mark Lozano’s campaign to bring light to impoverished people in the Philippines. She writes:

Picture this: Seeing a beautiful, bright, red-orange glow, only to find it disappear from your very eyes, leaving you in complete and utter darkness. Now, imagine every night of your life, with only a dim flicker of a dangerous kerosene lamp lighting your way.

Knowing that 15 million Filipinos live this type of life, 16-year-old Mark Lozano decided this was a major problem that urgently needed to be solved.

The runner-up in the Intermediate Section was Shaun Saldana, from Thomas Carr College in Tarneit, Vic. Thomas’ ‘justice hero’ was his parish priest, Fr Jude Pirotta MSSP. He writes:

Fr Jude’s genuine respect for people and justice started when he was a child. Fr Jude was the eighth child of nineteen. Eleven of the children were related, and his mother adopted another eight. ‘My relationship with God and desire to live a life of justice was formed by observing the faith and compassion of my parents’, says Fr Jude.

Thanks to sponsors

A special thanks to our major Young Journalist Award sponsor this year, Australian Catholic University, for their generous support for the award. Thanks also to the sponsors who donated prizes for this year’s award: Eureka Street, Sharpie, and Papermate.

The winning stories are in the Spring edition of Australian Catholics, which is being distributed to schools and parishes this week. The stories will also be published online at over the next few weeks.

The winning trophies and prizes are being sent to the schools to be presented to students. For details of the presentation, or to arrange a photo, please contact the respective schools.



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