Columbans Launch Schools Media Competition: Biodiversity Matters

The Columban Missionaries in Ireland and Britain announce the launch of their latest Schools Media Competition 2023-2024 which has the title: ‘Biodiversity Matters’.

The launch is taking place during the first week of the Season of Creation when Christian communities around the world focus on valuing and protecting God’s creation. A core aspect of Columban mission is justice, peace and ecology.

The competition is aimed at students aged between 13-18 years old who are invited to explore Biodiversity – the richness of life forms on Earth and which humanity relies on for health, food and well-being. It is looking for pieces of writing and images that demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the issue of Biodiversity and highlight people, communities and/or organisations trying to build a sustainable future.

Pope Francis has told us that “because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God … We have no such right” (Laudato Si’ #33) 

Columbans worldwide see the devastating impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss on people and the environment as interwoven moral issues in need of prophetic responses. Inspiration for action is drawn from the 2015 teaching document by Pope Francis, Laudato Si’.

Retired Columban co-worker Ger Clarke giving a workshop on biodiversity in Dalgan Park during Heritage Week 2023. Image: ColumbanMissionImages

In his role as Columban Justice and Peace Education Worker in Britain, James Trewby visits young people in schools and sixth forms and runs workshops, retreats and assemblies to promote justice, peace and the integrity of creation. He says:

I’m delighted that the Columban Schools Media Competition this year focuses on the theme of Biodiversity. In a world of increasing globalisation and environmental degradation, management of biological diversity is one of the most important and critical challenges facing humankind today. The Columbans are keen to nurture the student voice and provide an opportunity for young people to engage with this issue.” 

Encouraging creativity and faith engagement with issues in the world today, this year’s competition welcomes both written and image entries until the closing date of 17 February 2024.

Winners will be announced on Columban media on 21 March 2024, the International Day of Forests.

Two separate competitions will be judged, one for students in Ireland and one for students in Britain. Cash prizes will be awarded to the winning entrants and the first prize is an impressive €500 (£500)!

High-profile judges from the world of journalism have been secured, who write for the Irish News, The Irish Times, The Tablet and Independent Catholic News. Also, Catholic experts on environmental protection and education, including Columban eco-theologian Fr Sean McDonagh, Mary Colwell and Jane Mellett.

Winning entries will be published in the Columbans’ Far East magazine, Vocation for Justice newsletter, Columban websites in Ireland and Britain, Columban social media and in other media.

Students will find the Columban Competition website a useful resource. It includes information on the theme, examples of Church work on Biodiversity, Catholic Social Teaching on the theme of Biodiversity and information about inspirational Catholics working on the issue.

There are also details on submission of entries and a helpful FAQ page. The website provides material suitable for students, teachers and parents.

This is the seventh annual School’s Media Competition. Past themes have focused on Migrants, Climate Change, Racism, 21st Century Changemakers and Peace.

For more information See the competition website:

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