The third annual St. Thomas Aquinas Scholarship competition takes place on April 26th in Kalamazoo. Finalists from all three diocesan high schools will defend the Faith on a subject of their choice for 10 scholarships ranging from $500 to $5,000.
Representing St. Philip this year are Hannah Stevens, Andy Forche, and Madison Haywood. They hope to bring the school its first-ever top-place finish.
“Their arguments were strong, the theology was all there, and they were confident in their topics,” St. Philip theology teacher Nicole Krajewski said of St. Philip’s 2018 finalists.
Every senior in the diocese completes a Capstone Project. It requires a year of research, a thesis paper, and a 7-8 minute presentation before a panel of judges. Each high school sends their top finishers to Kalamazoo to present before a diocesan panel of judges.
Miss Krajewski, her sister Clarissa Krajewski, and Fr. Francis Marotti judged St. Philip’s competition. Determining the final three wasn’t easy.
“This year everyone did so well,” Miss Krajewski said. “I was really impressed with just how good the presentations were.”
Hannah Stevens earned the top score for her presentation on divorce and remarriage in the Catholic Church.
“There are so many misconceptions,” Hannah said. “People believe the divorced person is excommunicated, or they are not welcomed, or their pastors won’t let them participate, but that is totally not true. They can still receive Communion and have a life with God; they just can’t get remarried unless they receive an annulment.”
Hannah was pleased to be moving on to the diocesan competition.
“It was definitely a surprise that I made it,” Hannah said. “It should be fun to get to present again in front of more people.”
Andy Forche spoke about evolution, combining his love for science with his life in the Faith.
“People don’t think religion and science meet, but they do,” Andy said.
Andy articulated and anchored his presentation to Theistic Evolution, which holds God created the universe but used evolution to bring about his creation.
“That is reasonable for a Catholic to believe without violating any of the major teachings of the church,” Andy said.
Madison Haywood explored the question of whether abortion can ever be justified. As a young Catholic woman about to enter college, she wanted to be secure in her pro-life beliefs.
Her research included articles by University of Utah associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy Maureen L. Condic, which reinforced the Catholic teaching that life begins at conception.
“It was crazy to see the scientific pieces on the zygote and the weeks after conception,” Madison said. “It really solidified what I believe. I am a pro-life advocate.”
Although she is nervous to present in front of the other diocesan judges, Madison is ready to compete.
“We haven’t had anyone from St. Phil in the top three yet,” Madison said. “It would be exciting if it could happen.”
What’s truly exciting is what has already happened – another group of young adults entering the world knowing and living the Faith.