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Catholic Citizenship Essay Contest

The Knights of Columbus Catholic Citizenship Essay Contest encourages today’s youth to be more connected to their community and their faith. The goal of this program is to involve young Catholics in 8th through 12th grade (public, private, parochial or home schools) in civic discourse and instill in them religious and life-affirming values. The essay should be approximately 500-750 words on a specific subject, changing every other year. Entrants will be judged on grammar, style, and how clearly they present the theme – which should showcase creativity, imagination and overall development of the topic.


​This contest is the least labor intensive contest conducted by the Council. Judges can score essays independently from the comfort of their own easy chair.  All that is required at the Council level are judges willing to read and score a number of essays.

Time Frame

The Essay Contest is held (Council level) during October/November of the Columbian year.

The theme of this year’s contest is “Going to the Peripheries.”


This year’s contest opens the doors of young minds, enabling the entrants to be creative, thoughtful and introspective in their work. The following words were offered by Supreme Knight Carl Anderson on this topic:


“Through His incarnation, the Lord has united Himself forever with suffering humanity –not as an abstraction, but throughout history with each suffering person. Jesus is already at the peripheries. The question for us is whether He will be there alone or whether His disciples will be there with Him.”

Entrants will discuss the role of the Catholic Church going to the peripheries, then select one of the following ideas to complete their essay:

  1. Describe the work of one widely known current Catholic who went to the periphery.

  2. Describe the work of one widely known historical Catholic who went to the periphery.

  3. Describe the work of one person in your life, who helps alleviate human suffering.


For more information on  the Catholic Citizenship Essay Contest see HERE.


Winning Council essays for each grade group (along with entry form should be forwarded to by December 15.  State winners will be announced in late January.

Preparing for Contest

A Council Essay Contest Coordinator, should order essay kits early in July. If your Council’s Parish has a school, coordinate with the school as when would be the best time to have the contest (given the council time frame above).  When a date is established, ask if there is a school department that would be most appropriate through which to “roll out” the contest within the school.  (A school’s English department, or Composition teacher would be happy to encourage their students to participate in this contest.) Utilize that department/teacher to assist with getting the word out within the school.  (Don’t be shy!  You will find out that most schools will jump at the chance to have a school project for their students, and they will work with you to ensure success of the venture!) 

If you do not have a school within your Parish, advertise – with the permission of the Parish Priest -- via church bulletin item and/or Essay Kit posters.  Entry forms should be available at the Parish office or in common areas in the gathering space, i.e. kiosks.  In soliciting participants, don’t forget Youth RE classes.

Contest Rules

  1. Essays must reflect the assigned theme and be the student’s original work.

  2. Essays must be typed and between 500 and 750 words in length.

  3. The student’s name should only appear on the official Catholic Citizenship Essay Contest entry form which must be stapled to the essay.

  4. All entries become the property of the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council and essays will not be returned.


Judges can be comprised team comprised of a combination of Council members, teachers and/or clergy. 


Essays are judged on a 100-point scoring system to determine winners:

  • Content - 30 points - How clearly is the theme presented?

  • Grammar - 30 points - How well is the essay written with respect to sentence structure, paragraph construction and spelling?

  • Style - 40 points - Does the essay show creativity, imagination and development of the topic in a compelling style?


Awards are at the discretion of the Council.   Certificates should be provided to all participants and are included in the kit.  Winner’s awards:  some ideas that I have seen are gift cards, ribbons, or a plaque/certificate, which, when framed, can be an inexpensive yet meaningful award to the winner(s).  Don’t let lack of imagination hold back your choice of awards!

International award recipients will be announced at the end of the Columbian Year.

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