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USCCB, OSV Institute Co-Sponsor Religious Liberty Essay Contest

A woman prays during a Religious Freedom Day observance Jan. 16, 2022, at St. Therese of Lisieux Church in Montauk, N.Y. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — March 11 is the entry deadline for a religious liberty essay contest for high school juniors and seniors co-sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, the USCCB Secretariat of Catholic Education and Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

The first-place essay will be published in Our Sunday Visitor, a national Catholic newsweekly based in Huntington, Indiana, and the author will receive a $2,000 scholarship.

Second place will receive a $1,000 scholarship, and third place will receive a $500 scholarship. All three winning essays will be published on the USCCB website,

The theme of the essay is “Witnesses to Freedom.” Contest entrants should share the story of a witness to freedom, choosing one person — or group, such as an organization or community — important in the story of freedom.

Questions the essay should address include whether there was a key moment in the person’s life that bears witness to freedom — or was it the life as a whole — whether the person articulated important concepts for religious freedom, and if so, the arguments made by that person; why this person is a witness to religious freedom, and what lessons can be learned from this person’s witness.

“Religious freedom is a fundamental right,” says a release about the contest. “But the truth of religious freedom has needed, and continues to need, witnesses. Philosophers and statesmen have articulated key principles and ideas.

“Advocates have stood up for the freedom of others. Saints have suffered persecution and even martyrdom. These witnesses to freedom show us what it means to promote religious freedom and what it means to be truly free.”

Essays should be no longer than 1,100 words and should include a bibliography. Any reference style is acceptable as long as it is consistent throughout the document.

A consent form must be included with the essay submission.

It can be found at

Contestants age 18 or over are asked to fill out the form themselves; for those under 18 a parent or legal guardian must fill out the form for the contestant.

Completed essays with the consent form should be emailed to

Contest rules can be found at