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Justice and Mercy poetry contest seeks young Catholics

Young woman writer, serious

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J-P Mauro - published on 03/11/24

The Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN) will select three poems on the Catholic perspective on the death penalty for cash prizes. Submissions open until March 25.

The annual Justice and Mercy Poetry Contest for Young Adults, held by the Catholic Mobilizing Network, is seeking entries for its 2024 iteration. Participants may submit original poems on the theme of ending capital punishment, with cash prizes awarded to the top three selected works. Entries must come from the pens of young adult Catholics, aged 18-30, and must be submitted by March 25, 2024.

According to the Catholic Mobilization Network, the contest was inspired by Church teaching, which calls the faithful to work toward “the abolition of capital punishment.” CMN writes: 

“Our Catholic faith teaches that all people are created in the image and likeness of God, instilled with dignity and worth that can never be taken away, even when someone commits a serious crime. The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly states that the death penalty is “inadmissible” and an attack on the dignity of life.”

Grace Przywara, who won third place in 2023 for her poem “Possibility,” will be on the panel of judges for the 2024 contest. In a press release, she expressed how her participation in the Justice and Mercy Poetry Contest of Young adults “opened [her] eyes to a new understanding of justice and the death penalty.”

Her poem, about the 2004 execution of James Vernon Allridge, forced her to examine the details of his life in a way that humanized and exposed “the person at the center of a dehumanizing system.”

She wrote of the uplifting nature of poetry, as well as giving prospective contestants a little direction: 

“Poems not only allow us to explore challenging themes, but they also slow us down long enough to embrace unexpected truths — even ones that are tragic,” Przywara wrote. “As I wrote ‘Possibility’ I asked myself: What do we gain in executing a person? We gain nothing, I concluded. We close the book on possibility.”

Grace encourages all young adults with a penchant for poetry to give the contest a try, noting that she is excited to act in her capacity as judge in the 2024 iteration. 

The Justice and Mercy Poetry Contest for Young Adults awards cash prizes for the top three winners: $1,000 for first place, $500 for second place, and $300 for third place. The window for submissions closes on March 25, leaving just enough time for young Catholic poets to get their entries ready.

Learn more at the Catholic Mobilizing Network.

CatholicismDeath PenaltyPoetryYouth
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