Winners of the 2013 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 2013 Father Michael J. McGivney College Essay Contest.

The first-place winner is Daniel A. Drain, a junior at DeSales University in Center Valley, PA.  Mr. Drain, who submitted an essay entitled “Creatio Logisai,” is completing studies in philosophy and theology.

The runner-up is Luke J. Foster, a junior at Columbia University in New York.  Mr. Foster, who is majoring in English, submitted an essay entitled “Faithful Reason and the Revelation of Christ.”

The essay contest, which takes place annually, asked students to respond to the following question:  “In reality it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear . . . Christ . . . in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals man to himself.” (Gaudium et spes, 22) Write an essay commenting on the meaning of this passage from Gaudium et spes for the relationship of “continuity and fulfillment” between faith and reason, referring also to following quotation from Fides et Ratio 43, concerning the synthesis of Thomas Aquinas: “Faith therefore has no fear of reason, but seeks it out and has trust in it. Just as grace builds on nature and brings it to fulfillment, so faith builds upon and perfects reason. Illumined by faith, reason is set free from the fragility and limitations deriving from the disobedience of sin and finds the strength required to rise to the knowledge of the Triune God. Although he made much of the supernatural character of faith, the Angelic Doctor did not overlook the importance of its reasonableness; indeed he was able to plumb the depths and explain the meaning of this reasonableness. Faith is in a sense an ‘exercise of thought’; and human reason is neither annulled nor debased in assenting to the contents of faith, which are in any case attained by way of free and informed choice.”

Make sure that your essay also addresses the following questions:  What does the revelation brought about in Christ say about reason’s thirst for Truth? In what sense is the exercise of reason required in order to grasp the answer that Christ’s revelation sheds on the mystery of man? Why is philosophy still needed after Christ’s revelation?

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 2014 contest will be available in April.

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