WASHINGTON (April 19, 2002) -- A group of students from St. Mary's Colgan High School in
Pittsburg, Kansas, in the Diocese of Wichita, has won the grand prize in the 2001-2002 Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) Multi-Media Youth Arts contest. CCHD is the national anti-poverty program of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Thirteen students in the school's Religion and Advanced Art classes collaborated to produce a compact disc and video, titled "The Pittsburg Poverty Project 2001" in an effort to raise awareness of the issues surrounding poverty and highlight solutions to combat it. They displayed their work at a booth in a local shopping mall during Thanksgiving weekend last fall and engaged shoppers in a dialogue about poverty.
The grand prizewinners will be honored April 16 in Jacksonville, Florida at the annual meeting of the National Conference of Catechetical Leadership (NCCL).
The grand prize for the contest, $1,000 in cash, will be divided between the team and a CCHD-funded project designated by the team. Tama Dutton, religion teacher at St. Mary's Colgan and advisor to the winning team, said that the students plan to donate their share of the prize to several Pittsburg charities whose programs they profiled in "The Pittsburgh Poverty Project 2001." "The kids got out into the community, came into contact with lots of local agencies and were able to put a face on poverty, so it's not just a statistic to them," said Mrs. Dutton.
Robert Powell, an eleventh-grade student at Holyoke Catholic High School in Granby, Massachusetts, in the Diocese of Springfield, won second prize for his visual art entry, a charcoal titled, "For Theirs is the Kingdom." Powell will receive $375, with an equal amount to be donated to a CCHD-funded organization.
Third place was awarded to students at Ascension School in Oak Park, Illinois, in the Archdiocese of Chicago, who produced an acrylic painting and accompanying poem to illustrate what is needed to fight poverty in this country. The students will share $250 in cash, with an equal donation to the CCHD-funded organization they select.
The Multi-Media Youth Arts Contest was developed by CCHD to reach out to youth and encourage them to work in a creative way on projects that explore the issues of poverty and injustice in the United States. It is open to students in grades seven through 12 in Catholic schools and parishes. This year, students were asked to develop the theme, "Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in America" through visual arts, audio-visual means or literature. Original works were submitted to diocesan-level competitions. Local winners were forwarded to Washington for final judging by a panel of professionals in the fields of art and religion.
Announcing the winners, Rev. Robert J. Vitillo, CCHD executive director, said, "We had an excellent response to the second year of our competition. I am impressed by the quality of the entries and by the depth of understanding and compassion shown by the student artists. Clearly, they understand the connection between faith and working for
justice to eradicate poverty in our local communities." Fr. Vitillo noted that CCHD's dual mission is to Break the Cycle of Poverty through support of community-controlled self-help organizations and to build solidarity between the poor and non-poor through education for justice.
"There is a growing awareness among young Americans that poverty is more widespread that we generally consider," said Fr. Vitillo. "Some 31 million people live in poverty in our prosperous country and one in every six is a child who might be a neighbor or friend of one of our student artists."
Honorable mentions will be presented to: Mary Kate Hunter, St. Cecilia's Parish, Fort Myers, Florida, in the Diocese of Venice (visual artsRachael Lynch and Claire O'Neill, St. Anthony's Parish, Grand Haven, Michigan, in the Diocese of Grand Rapids (visual arts) Alicia Bartholomew, St. Peter Marian Jr. Sr. High School, Worcester, Massachusetts, in the Diocese of Worcester (visual arts) The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is the domestic anti-poverty and social justice program of the U.S. Catholic Bishops. With the support of Catholic parishioners, it has provided grants to more than 4,000 community and economic development projects over the past 32 years. The annual CCHD collection is taken up in most Catholic parishes in the United States on the weekend before Thanksgiving. Additional information about the contest and other CCHD initiatives for Catholic youth and young adults is available at the CCHD website www.usccb.org/cchd/youth.htm or by calling Alicia Bondanella at (202) 541-3151.