Winners of the Columban Young Journalists Competition, 'The Challenge of Climate Change', received their certificates during the Lobby of Parliament on Climate Change last Wednesday 20 June. The winners present were 15-year-old Anna Joy Marshall of St Mary's Catholic High School in Chesterfield and 17-year-old Mary-Cindy Okafor of St Paul's Catholic School in Milton Keynes, who produced winning articles. Also, Erin Rodger (15) of Bishop Ullathorne Catholic School in Coventry, who produced a video. A delegation from her school took part in the climate lobby, accompanied during preparatory work at their school by Columban Education Worker James Trewby.
The certificates were presented by Bishop John Arnold of Salford, the Environment Spokesman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, alongside Fr Peter Hughes, the Columban Director in Britain. Bishop Arnold affirmed the young winners for raising awareness on the climate crisis. "This is where I see great energy and they are really grappling with the whole question of climate change" he said. Fr Peter Hughes added that, "I'm delighted that the Columbans are able to sponsor this competition and I hope it will motivate these young people to get even more involved in the issue of climate change".
One of the judges, Josephine Siedlecka of ICN, was present and congratulated the young winners in person.
Earlier on in the day the young people took part in 'The Time is Now' lobby where at least 12,000 people urged their MPs to act more urgently on the climate crisis. Before that they walked down Whitehall, with Columban missionaries, Jesuit Mission, Salesians, CAFOD, A Rocha, Operation Noah, Green Christians and Pax Christi among the groups present as members of The Climate Coalition.
Towards the end of the day Anna Joy Marshall met her MP - Toby Perkins, MP for Chesterfield. She reported that he began by bringing up the idea that we have a responsibility to help third world countries, saying they would be affected most by climate change. Anna asked him for his views on Trident and the arms trade since war is one of the most polluting industries. "There was a hazy reply" reports Anna, "as he suggested preventing people from driving cars would be a more successful approach to tackling climate change than stopping the arms trade". He said he often uses public transport and walks when possible, and that he is a keen recycler. He would be looking into buying solar panels. Politically, he said he supports green deals, and he's been pushing greatly against the use of fossil fuels and for the move to renewables. He was keen that the UK government meets it commitment to net zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.
The competition 'The Challenge of Climate Change' was run by the Columban Missionary Society and open to young people 15-18 years old. Two separate strands were held - one for students in Britain and the other for pupils in Ireland. The objective was to encourage students to use their journalistic writing and mobile skills to look at a topical issue which is relevant to Catholic Social Teaching and resonates with Columban mission. Each had two categories, writing and video, and leading journalists in Britain and Ireland judged the entries. The next Columban competition will be launched in Autumn 2019.
See a short video of presentations to Columban Competition Winners 20 June 2019 here:
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