Marian Contest Scholarship Awards

One of the defining moments in Christianity is when Our Blessed Mother Mary replies to the angel Gabriel that she will faithfully give birth to Jesus, the Son of God: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord,” said the Virgin Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. Also guided by faith, Joseph, Mary’s husband, dedicated his life to his family and raised Jesus as his son. Mary’s and Joseph’s love for Jesus and each other has served as a role model of faith and family ever since.

This year’s Marian Contest: “Mary & Joseph – The Model Parents & Disciples” was a beautiful expression of devotion to the Holy Family and the powerful example they set for us today. Middle-school students who entered the Marian Contest had the opportunity to earn scholarship awards from $50 to $1,000 by expressing their love for Mary, Our Blessed Mother, and her most chaste spouse, St. Joseph.

The annual contest, administered through an Endowment Fund at The Catholic Foundation of Central Florida in partnership with The Diocese of Orlando’s Office of Schools, and Office of Laity, Family and Life, was open to 5th-8th grade students enrolled in a diocesan Catholic School, Parish Faith Formation or Youth Ministry Program.

This year’s contest was overwhelmingly faith-filled. Thanks to the support of teachers and catechists, we received 137 entries from 16 schools and parish faith-formation programs. Middle school students tapped into their Catholic faith to express their reverence for Mary and Joseph through written essays, PowerPoint presentations, and videos. Student contest entries combined Catholic scripture, history, reflection and personal testimony.

The entries went through 3 stages of reviewing:

  • Preliminary: Did the entry meet the basic requirements and was it relatively free of major errors.
  • Review Committee: Each entry was then reviewed by two of our 14 review committee members.
  • Finalist: The top two entries from each reviewing group was reviewed by the President & CEO and Vice President & CDSO of The Catholic Foundation, and a Foundation Donor Services team member who coaches the Bishop Moore Catholic High School debate team to narrow down several elite entries based on their scores to the top three.

This year’s submissions were outstanding and after review the following 1st, 2nd and 3rd place entries were selected along with five Honorable Mentions:

1st Place: Samantha Lorey, St. Mary Magdalen Catholic School – Essay ($1,000 scholarship award for continued faith formation. Please click here to read Samantha’s essay.)

2nd Place: Kaelyn Johnson, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School – Essay ($100 scholarship award for continued faith formation. Please click here to read Kaelyn’s essay.)

3rd Place: Aileen de la Rosa: St. John Vianney Parish – Video ($50 scholarship award for continued faith formation. Please click here to see Aileen’s video.)

Honorable Mentions:

  • Lila Allender, St. Mary Magdalen Catholic School – PowerPoint
  • Lucky Boren, St. Brendan Catholic School – Essay
  • Santino Cevallos, St. Brendan Catholic School – Essay
  • Andres Gomez, Ascension Catholic School – Essay
  • Alexa Johnson, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School – Essay

To assist with three rounds of reviewing, The Catholic Foundation engaged a diverse group of panelists representing many perspectives of our faith family, including clergy, religious, and Catholic lay leaders.

The Marian Contest Review Committee members were:

  • Father Matthew Hawkins, St. James
  • Carlos Bernard, Laity and Family Life Office
  • Sister Maria Acosta, Sisters of the Pierced Hearts at Annunciation
  • Ralph Gerena, The Catholic Foundation
  • Doris Quinones, The Catholic Foundation
  • Jordan Trejo, Laity and Family Life/St. John Vianney
  • Father Adam Marchese, Annunciation
  • Carolyn Ell, The Catholic Foundation
  • Shana Coulthurst, The Catholic Foundation
  • Diana Loayza, The Catholic Foundation
  • Kaylee Osentowski, Basilica of the National Shrine, Mary Queen of the Universe
  • Dr. Isabel Fernandez, Office of Schools
  • Deacon Dave Camous, Parish Life Office
  • Daniel Boyd, Laity and Family Life

“We want to congratulate all of the students who participated in this year’s Marian Contest,” said Madelyn Weed, Vice President and Chief Donor Services Officer of The Catholic Foundation. “The intention of the donor whose endowment established and funds this contest was to encourage a deepened devotion to Mary. The entries truly were an expression of our love for Mary, Our Blessed Mother and her most chaste spouse, in this Year of St. Joseph.”