Catholic Citizenship Essay Contest

Catholic Citizenship Essay Contest

All councils and assemblies are encouraged to sponsor the Catholic Citizenship Essay Contest at schools in their communities. The contest is open to all Catholic students — in public, private or parochial schools — in grades 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 during the current school year, and is a creative way to encourage young people to become citizens who are firmly grounded in their faith.

This year’s theme is “Going to the Peripheries.” The contest opens the doors of young minds, enabling the entrants to be creative, thoughtful and introspective in their work.

"Through his Incarnation, the Lord has united himself forever with suffering humanity — not as an abstraction, but throughout history with each suffering person. Jesus is already at the peripheries. The question for us is whether He will be there alone or whether His disciples will be there with Him." – Supreme Knight Carl Anderson

2017-2018 Essay Contest Theme:
Discuss the role of the Catholic Church going to the peripheries, then select one of the following ideas to complete your essay:
   a) Describe the work of one widely known current Catholic who went to the periphery.
   b) Describe the work of one widely known historical Catholic who went to the periphery.
   c) Describe the work of one person in your life, who helps alleviate human suffering.

First place winners will receive a check for $300, and two runners-up for each grade level will receive $100, awarded by Knights of Columbus Supreme Council.

Action Steps

Eligibility – The Knights of Columbus Essay Contest is open to all Catholic students — in public, private or parochial schools — in grades 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 during the current school year.


July/August: Councils, assemblies order Knights of Columbus Essay Contest Kits from the Supreme Council Office. (Print Version - Online Version)

August/September: Councils, assemblies contact schools to secure cooperation. At this time the date, place and means of recognizing winners should be determined.

September: Students write essays. Essays should be submitted to judges by September 30.

October: Judges review essays for council level.

November: Judges review essays for regional and or state level.

December: State champion essays submitted to Supreme for international judging by December 15

The Essay Contest council participation form (#4216) for the council level should be filled out and sent to the Supreme Council Department of Fraternal Mission by January 30.

January: International Essay Contest Winners announced by the Supreme Council Office


• Essays must reflect the assigned theme and topic, and be submitted by the published deadline.
• Essays must be the student’s original work.
• Essays must be typed on 8 ½” X 11” paper, one sided, double spaced, with one-inch margins.
• Essays must be between 500 and 750 words long.
• The student’s name should appear only on the official Knights of Columbus Essay Contest entry form which should be stapled to the essay.
• All entries become the property of the Knights of Columbus and will not be returned.

Sponsoring Organization – The Knights of Columbus Essay Contest is sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. The official responsible for the contest is the grand knight of the sponsoring council, or faithful navigator of the sponsoring assembly.

Awards – Certificates for first, second and third place winners, and certificates of participation for all entrants, are included in the essay contest kit.

Additional certificates are available from the Supreme Council office free of charge. It is recommended that councils consider monetary awards in the range of $100 to $250 in the form of savings bonds or cash to first place winners. It is also recommended that a special certificate or plaque be given to the school of the champion of each division. The school could then place the award in its trophy case or otherwise display it in the school.

Support Materials

All the materials needed by councils to participate in the Knights of Columbus Essay Contest are included in the Essay Contest KIT (EA-Kit). Please allow four weeks to ensure delivery by the event. The kit includes the following items:

 Description   Item 
Entry Form/Judging Sheet #4208
Promotional Poster #4209
Essay Contest Guide #4202
Participation Certificate  #4206
1st Place Certificate  #4207
2nd Place Certificate  #4865
3rd Place Certificate  #4866
Generic Winner Certificate  #4214
Essay Contest Participation Form  #4216


Thematic Resources

“Going to the Peripheries” – Columbia article

“Going to the Peripheries” – Supreme Knight’s keynote address to the Convocation of Catholic Leaders


Judges will be selected by the sponsoring Knights of Columbus council or assembly. Council, assembly members, clergy, civic officials and/or members of the community may serve as judges.

Essays will be judged on a 100-point scoring system:

35 points: Content — How clearly is the theme presented?

30 points: Grammar — How well is the essay written with respect to sentence structure, paragraph construction and spelling?

35 points: Style — Does the essay show creativity, imagination and development of the topic in a compelling style?


The theme of the 2016-17 essay contest was “The Importance of Religious Freedom.”  The following are the International Contest Winners:

Grade Level





8 Winner Mary Catherine Warner 367 Norfolk, VA
8 Runner Up Alyse Saucedo 9332 Spring Valley, CA
8 Runner Up Nicole Boccalon 1454 Hamilton, ON
9 Winner Alexandra Wettengel 7914 Hollywood, MD
9 Runner Up Marialena Mouaikei 7364 Adams, NY
9 Runner Up Jackson Bevier Dill 7502 Northglenn, CO
10 Winner Alexa Greenwald 1685 Shakopee, MN
10 Runner Up Phillip Le 13467 Virginia Beach, VA
10 Runner Up Madeleine Lange 930 Cascade, IA
11 Winner Sarah Neubecker 1445 Canandaigua, NY
11 Runner Up David Mantese 1155 Manchester, CT
11 Runner Up Anna Marino 568 Burlington, IA
12 Winner Mary Bern Yaeger 4304 Homewood, AL
12 Runner Up Henry Queen 15161 Atlanta, GA
12 Runner Up Valerie Doze 5341 East Grand Forks, ND


Tell Us About Your Programs

Help us improve the Service Program activities offered by the Supreme Council office by sending reports on your council’s successful activities and/or any suggestions you may have on improving our programs. Send this information to Fraternal Mission Dept., Service Program Suggestions, 1 Columbus Plaza, New Haven, CT 06510-3326 or contact us. Please include “Service Program Suggestions” in the subject line.