Emily Wenke, (left) from Saratoga Central Catholic, and Isadora Lee, from Catholic Central, and Fynn  Sarfoh, not pictured, were the winners of the Pontifical Mission Societies Essay Contest. (Franchesca Caputo photo)
Emily Wenke, (left) from Saratoga Central Catholic, and Isadora Lee, from Catholic Central, and Fynn Sarfoh, not pictured, were the winners of the Pontifical Mission Societies Essay Contest. (Franchesca Caputo photo)

Fynn Sarfoh (St. Pius X School, Grade 6), Isadora Lee (Catholic Central High School, Grade 10) and Emily Wenke (Saratoga Central Catholic High School, Grade 11) are the winners of the Pontifical Mission Societies Essay Contest and had lunch with Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, Rev. Michael Farano and Giovanni Virgiglio, superintendent of schools at the Pastoral Center in Albany on Friday. At the luncheon, each student received a $100 gift card and their schools received $200 to support their media and library resources. 80 essays were received from students describing how they “Go out and teach all nations.” Here are the winning essays:

Fynn Sarfoh
St. Pius X School
Grades 6-8

It is possible to spread the word of the Lord. In your own town is a good place to start. Anyone can spread the word of the Lord to anyone else. God gave us a mission to do good; following that mission is a very simple deed but also important. There are many ways to spread the word of God. One is to become a missionary, go to different places and tell others about the word of the Lord. Not all people can and want to do that. Just doing the little, simple deeds can make a huge difference. If someone sees you do something simple to help another person, they will see you and remember that there’s good in life and you can produce it. The Lord wants us to do good. Even as a student, you can help spread the word of the Lord. Things like holding the door for your classmates can make a big difference. The Lord also wants us to love our enemies. We can show that we are listening by realizing when we have done wrong and apologizing if the other person refuses to do so. Don’t argue back, just forgive. Giving to the less fortunate is an easy and effective way to do good. As children of the Lord, we are called to do what the Lord tells us. Anyone can spread the word of the Lord anywhere. It is your choice how you would like to do it.

Isadora Lee
Catholic Central High School
Grades 10-11

My whole life I grew up in a Christian household learning Christian values. I went to Sunday school and learned about Jesus and God. I have attended Catholic schools since preschool. Although I practice and understand my faith, many people are not as religious. I try to spread God’s word to all people I engage with in conversation. I talk to people at school, at sports games and even to people I have just met about my religion. I try to be a messenger of God’s word daily through my actions and words to people of all diversities.

In conversation, I discuss how my faith and religion has helped me through life. I also talk about how practicing Catholicism can benefit people and how God’s love is true. When I come across individuals who are non-believers, I tell them about how God is real and provide His historical accounts. Some people do not believe in God because of science but science can actually prove God is real. Science shows that the universe had a beginning. If it had a beginning, it had to have a beginner. We call Him God. 

Many different areas of the world have never known Christianity and it is a shame for them not to know it, so it is our mission to teach them about it. God has saved so many people and will continue saving people who want to be saved. This is the message we need to preach to all nations and all people. We will make them listen and hear our words. Together we can change so many people’s points of view and bring them to the one true God and our Savior Jesus Christ. We will teach them that the Lord has a plan for all of us and we all have to do our part. One easy way any Christian can do their part is posting on social media about God or talking to any non­-Christian about God. Over the years my school has had multiple exchange students. I always talk to them about God, showing them a different viewpoint. 

We can teach people about how deep our roots are and how strong we are together. Another thing we can tell them is how strong our leader Pope Francis is and the amount of kindness he shows to everyone. The little actions we practice of showing kindness and compassion to everyone we know will show how much we care and how much we really want to live a good Christian life. We need to be good examples to everyone around us and especially to those from other nations to show them just how good Christianity is. Together we can spread the good news and spread the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ’s word to everyone in the world. All we need to do is our part to go out and teach the people of all nations.

Emily Wenke
Saratoga Central Catholic High School
Grades 11-12

Pope Francis’ “Missionary Month: Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World’ is his vision for how we should act during the month of October 2019. In Pope Francis’ words, he asks, “that the whole Church revive her missionary awareness and commitment.” He wants us to “Go out and teach all nations.” What does it mean to “Go out and teach all nations” about our Lord and Savior?

Personally, when I “Go out and teach all nations,” I find inner peace and gain a sense of happiness. From the beginning of my Catholic education, I have always wanted to help others, and to me, going out and teaching all nations means to help others. When I help others I am bringing Jesus to them and they are learning about God’s compassion and love.

The most impactful service I have done was volunteering at a soup kitchen with my confirmation group. Throughout my education, I have taken part in many service projects and helped out many organizations, but this specific service has been most rewarding. I remember when we first arrived, from helping make the food to setting up and serving the meal, to cleaning up. The process made me appreciate what I have and opened my eyes to the needs of others.

Another way I “Go out and teach all nations” is in Community Service Club. As the president of the club, I knew I wanted to focus on many different aspects of helping others. Working with the Community Service Club leaders, we created a goal, to serve God, each other, the community and our school. In doing this, we kept in mind the different needs of people surrounding us. Through the core values of Community Service Club, we fulfill Pope Francis’ message to “Go out and teach all nations”. 

St. Anthony of Padua said, “Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak.” I try to keep this in mind when I help others, especially those who are different from me. I think of this because, sometimes, my words may not be making as much of an impact as my actions are. Another quote to live by is from St. Mary MacKillop, who said, “We must teach more by example than by word.” 
To me, this means that our actions are teaching the nations. And when helping others, I know that God’s generosity, love, compassion and faithfulness is being given to those in need. I know that I am going out to teach all nations.