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Knights of Columbus recognizes Pacelli State Essay Winner

Rory Bickler, Pacelli Class of 2020, was recently recognized as the state champion of the Knights of Columbus Catholic Citizenship Essay Contest.

On Aug. 7, Mike Embrickson, Grand Knight of Austin Council No. 1201, presented Bickler with a check and certificate to honor her achievement.

Mike Embrickson, Knights of Columbus grand knight, presents Rory Bickler, Pacelli Class of 2020 with a check and certificate while Kane Malo, Pacelli principal and Jean McDermott, Pacelli president look on. Photo provided

The Catholic Citizenship Essay Contest, part of the Knights of Columbus Faith in Action community programs, 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 grades 8 to 12 (public, private, parochial or home schools during the current school year) in civic discourse and instill in them religious and life-affirming values.

The essay is 500-750 words on a specific topic, changing every other year. Entrants are judged on grammar, style, and how clearly they present the theme in a way that showcases creativity, imagination and overall development of the topic. 

This year’s topic was “The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights states, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.’ What does ‘the free exercise’ of religion mean to you?”

Bickler’s essay connected these words of the Constitution to the words of the Catholic Catechism.

“What do you think of when you hear the phrase “religious freedom?” Maybe you think of being able to go to Mass on Sundays or being given the option to go to a Catholic school, but religious freedom is much more than that. Being able to embrace your core beliefs and values means that you are able to be your own person. Our religious freedom is our ability to think and believe what we feel. We are able to be true to ourselves and not just follow those around us or what the government says we must believe. As stated in the Catechism, “ Freedom is exercised in relationships between human beings. Every human person, created in the image of God, has the natural right to be recognized as a free and responsible being. All owe to each other this duty of respect. the right to the exercise of freedom, especially in moral and religious matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of the human person. This right must be recognized and protected by civil authority within the limits of the common good and public order.” (CCC 1738)”

The 2020-2021 essay contest topic asks students to discuss how trusting in God during a difficult time has helped you or someone you know find the strength and hope to endure it. Consider especially those times when it was a challenge to understand why something was happening. Consider also sharing any lessons about faith and hope you or someone you know may have learned from this experience. “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8).

Council No. 1201 in Austin is one of the 17,000 Knights of Columbus councils that make up the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization.  Founded in 1882 to assist working-class and immigrant Catholics in the United States, today the approximately two million members of the knights put their faith into action through a broad range of charitable causes locally, nationally and internationally with financial contributions and hands-on service.