Poetry contest focuses middle school students on Eucharistic Adoration

January 23, 2024

The Eucharist is seen in a monstrance during Eucharistic Adoration at St. Mary Star of the Sea in Freeport. (Photo by James Ramos/Herald)

HOUSTON — To highlight the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, Catholic middle school students are being encouraged to write poems about Eucharistic Adoration as the theme for the 2024 Catholic Literary Arts’ Archdiocesan Poetry Contest.

The contest for sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students in the Archdiocese is now open for poetry submissions on the Catholic Literary Arts (CLA) website, www.catholicliteraryarts.com, until submissions close at 11:59 p.m. on March 1. Professional writers will review the students’ poems, of which hundreds have been submitted annually over the years.

Sarah Cortez, president and founder of CLA and member of the Texas Institute of Letters, said, “These sacred poetry contests for middle schools are one of a variety of ways that Catholic Literary Arts is helping to birth the next generation of faithful, inspiring and inspired Catholic writers.”

This year, nine winners from Archdiocesan Catholic middle schools will be chosen — three from each of the three grades to win first, second and third place prizes. Another nine will be chosen from the Catholic homeschool network. All 18 will have their winning poetry pieces published by CLA in an anthology.

Last year’s overall Poet Laureate winner, Samantha Court, received $500 in prize money and free tuition to attend the Fearless Catholic Writers Summer Workshop on the campus of the University of St. Thomas (UST). She highly recommends that students enter the contest.

“It was through competitions that I realized how much I love writing and how passionate I am about it. My hope is that students who compete will be able to find a deep love for their faith and for literature, too,” she said.

Now a ninth grader at a Catholic high school, Samantha Court added, “I can use my writing as a channel for my faith, to communicate to others not only as a writer but as a Catholic. This is the most important thing I have taken away from my experience.”

Her mother, Caroline Court, said she was impressed by the many experiences and opportunities that the contest invited Samantha to engage in when she won the 2023 Archdiocesan Poet Laureate title for her poem “Amor in Amnis (Latin for “Love in the Stream”), about the Baptism of Jesus.

“Witnessing Samantha read her poem before the famous poet Dana Gioia and seeing her poem published in the St. Austin Review were a few of her accomplishments that brought joy to our family,” Caroline Court said. “I believe our greatest blessing is that the CLA has given Samantha a new home where she can continue her pursuit as a Catholic writer.”

Samantha Court was also included in an article in the National Catholic Register about the Catholic literary renaissance developing across the country.

After contest submissions close by March 1 and poems are reviewed, winners will be posted on March 20. Two separate awards ceremonies will take place at the UST campus. Homeschooled students will be celebrated on April 3 at 9 a.m., and Catholic school students will be awarded on April 10 at 9 a.m. at UST.

Debra Haney, Ed.D., secretariat director and superintendent of Catholic Schools, said, “Giving students an opportunity to spend time with professional writers and develop their love of composition, complemented with the infusion of faith-focused topics centered on Christ is a very unique and special experience.”

“We are grateful to CLA for their support of our Catholic schools and for their work with the very talented writers within our schools,” Haney said.

For additional information, visit www.catholicliteraryarts.com.