Since 1933, through its annual Christmas Artwork Contest, The Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States have been using art to make Christ’s birth and the Holy Family more approachable to all, inviting children in elementary schools and religious education programs to draw a Nativity scene.
This year, a total of 24 drawings from thousands of entries across the U.S. were considered “extraordinary,” and selected by judges to be featured in the 2021-2022 Missionary Childhood Association (MCA) Christmas Artwork Contest.
In the Diocese of Harrisburg, Gabriel Fink of St. Leo the Great School in Rohrerstown was one of the national winners. Accompanied by his family, he was presented an award in a ceremony at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., on December 2.
Mass was celebrated by Msgr. Kieran E. Harrington, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (TPMS) in the United States, which encompass MCA. TPMS Directors and MCA Coordinators from winning (arch)dioceses also attended.
“For centuries now, the Catholic Church has been using art to make the mysteries of the faith more approachable to all,” said Msgr. Harrington. “Jesus told us: ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ How beautiful it is to see the true meaning of Christmas as envisioned by those to whom heaven belongs!”
The TPMS, he said, are thankful to the young artists for the enthusiasm they have shown, and to their parents, for their encouraging support.
All winners are featured on the eGreetings site. Those wishing to spread the joy of the season using the work of the contest’s young missionary artists can do so for free, sending Christmas e-cards to loved ones.
In 1933, MCA used children’s artwork on Christmas seals. Christmas cards were introduced in 2005, and, in 2007, eGreetings were launched with these drawings depicting scenes of the Christmas story: shepherds and angels, the Three Kings and the Holy Family, the animals present by the manger, and the Baby Jesus.
“MCA is blessed to be able to introduce children here at home to their brothers and sisters in the Missions, and to encourage that relationship of ‘children helping children,’” said Msgr. Harrington. “This contest is just one opportunity for young people to be missionaries today.”
The Pontifical Mission Societies, active in some 120 countries throughout the world, work to animate the faithful to a universal missionary spirit, and to gather support for the efforts of the Church in some 1,100 mission dioceses in Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands and parts of Latin America and Europe. The Missionary Childhood Association grows the missionary spirit by connecting children in the United States to children in mission territories through prayer, learning and giving.
In the Diocese of Harrisburg, Reverend Robert F. Sharman is the Diocesan Director for the Office of Pontifical Missions; Karen Harding is the diocesan MCA Coordinator. For more information, visit www.hbgdiocese.org/MCA.
The 2022-2023 MCA Christmas Artwork Contest is now open. Entry forms may be found at www.hbgdiocese.org/MCA. Deadline for entries is January 31, 2023.
(Photos courtesy of the National Office of the Pontifical Mission Societies.)
From the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States