Winners of the 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 2015 Father Michael J. McGivney College Essay Contest.

The first-place winner is Philip P. Stokman, a senior philosophy major at The Catholic University of America, in Washington, DC.  Mr. Stokman’s essay is entitled “The Object Determines the Method.”

The runner-up is Jonathan Culbreath, a junior at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, CA.  Mr. Culbreath submitted an essay entitled: “The Marian Vocation of the Philosopher.”

The essay contest, which takes place annually, asked students to respond to the following question:  John Paul II concludes his Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio (1998) with a reflection on Mary, “whose life itself is a true parable illuminating the reflection contained in these passages.” He continues: “For between the vocation of the Blessed Virgin and the vocation of true philosophy there is a deep harmony. Just as the Virgin was called to offer herself entirely as human being and as woman that God’s Word might take flesh and come among us, so too philosophy is called to offer its rational and critical resources that theology, as the understanding of faith, may be fruitful and creative. And just as in giving her assent to Gabriel’s word, Mary lost nothing of her true humanity and freedom, so too when philosophy heeds the summons of the Gospel’s truth its autonomy is in no way impaired. Indeed, it is then that philosophy sees all its enquiries rise to their highest expression. This was a truth which the holy monks of Christian antiquity understood well when they called Mary ‘the table at which faith sits in thought.’  In her they saw a lucid image of true philosophy and they were convinced of the need to philosophari in Maria.” (n. 108) Write an essay commenting in the significance of Mary for philosophy. Your essay should include a consideration of how Mary sheds light on the relationship between philosophy and theology.

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 2016 contest will be available in April.