Winners of the 2011 Father Michael J. McGivney Essay Contest

The Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family is pleased to announce the results in the 2011 Father Michael J. McGivney College Essay Contest.

The first-place winner is Michael A. Wahl, a senior at Providence College, in Providence, RI.  Mr. Wahl, who submitted an essay entitled What God Has Joined Together Let No Man Separate: Truth and Freedom in Contemporary Moral Discourse is completing studies in philosophy and mathematics.

The runner-up is Stephen C. Barany, a junior at the University of Notre Dame, in South Bend, IN.  Mr. Barany, who is double-majoring in philosophy and design, submitted an essay entitled On the Relationship of Freedom, Truth, and Faith as Found in the Theology of Pope Benedict XVI and Blessed John Paul II.

The essay contest, which takes place annually, asked students to respond to the following question:

Commenting in 1993 on problems in modern ethical thought, John Paul II spoke of a general tendency of “detaching human freedom from its essential and constitutive relationship to truth” (Veritatis Splendor, 4).  He also made the following claim: “The attempt to set freedom in opposition to truth, and indeed to separate them radically, is the consequence, manifestation and consummation of another more serious and destructive dichotomy, that which separates faith from morality” (Ibid., 88).  What does it mean to speak of an “essential and constitutive relationship” of freedom to truth?  If freedom needs truth, does truth need freedom?  How do both need faith?  Write an essay discussing these questions.

Through the Father Michael J. McGivney College Essay Contest, which is named for the founder of the Knights of Columbus, the Pontifical John Paul II Institute seeks to encourage deeper reflection on the themes of culture, person, God, love, marriage, and family, especially as developed in the theological work of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The contest is open to college students who are in their junior or senior years in the given academic year. The topic and details of the 2012 contest will be available in April.

As author of the first-place essay, Mr. Wahl will receive a stipend of $2000; the second-place stipend to Mr. Barany is $750.