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Maryknoll honors Ursuline eighth-grader for essay on environment

By

Dialog reporter

 

WILMINGTON – The last week of February was a busy and successful one for Grace Smith. The Ursuline Academy eighth-grader participated in the state swimming and diving championships on Feb. 25 for the Raiders, who picked up their second straight state title. Then, three days later, she received a national award for an essay she wrote about the environment.

Grace was honored by Maryknoll Magazine for her essay responding to the theme “Caring for Our Common Home,” which was referenced by Pope Francis in his encyclical “Laudato Si.” Hers was selected from 7,261 entries from across the United States.

Ursuline eighth-grader Grace Smith holds up her certificate for winning the nationwide Maryknoll essay contest. She is flanked by Maryknoll Sister Mary Reese (Ursuline Class of 1940) and Brother John Blazo. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

Ursuline eighth-grader Grace Smith holds up her certificate for winning the nationwide Maryknoll essay contest. She is flanked by Maryknoll Sister Mary Reese (Ursuline Class of 1940) and Brother John Blazo. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

On Feb. 28, the middle and upper schools gathered in the school gymnasium to celebrate Grace’s accomplishment. She received a certificate and $1,000 from Maryknoll Brother John Blazo and Maryknoll Sister Mary Reese, a 1940 graduate of Ursuline.

Brother John relayed a message from Father Raymond Finch, the superior general of the order. He called Grace’s essay “thoughtful and uplifting” and noted that it will appear in the May/June issue of Maryknoll Magazine.

Grace, a member of Holy Family Parish in Newark, read her essay to the students, faculty and staff. She noted that she tries to conserve energy wherever she is and encourages others to do the same. She also has corresponded with local politicians to see what can be done on a larger scale.

“Even though I can’t vote yet, I can still make a difference through my politicians,” she said, quoting the essay.

Afterward, Grace said she is passionate about the environment because it’s the world in which she lives.

“I just want the world to be clean and green, and I want plants to grow for my entire life and for people after me,” she said.

She realized from reading “Laudato Si” that Pope Francis is committed to saving the earth, and he wants “Christians and all the people in the world to experience the nice world that he experienced.”

She appreciated that Maryknoll Magazine recognized her passion for the environment and thought it was great that an Ursuline graduate was one of the people who came down from the congregation’s headquarters in Ossining, N.Y., to present her award.

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