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For the last few years, Public Speaking Competitions have been a feature of Catenians linking and encouraging the development of our Catholic youth.

Earlier this year, William Mirfin-Boukouris,from St Mary’s Catholic High School in Chesterfield took part in Province 15, Annual Catholic Secondary Schools Public Speaking Competition where pupils from eight schools across the East Midlands spoke to an audience which included both Bishop John and Bishop Malcolm McMahon.

More recently, the inaugural Catenian Public Speaking Competition for Province 3 South was held at Holy Trinity Catholic and Church of England School in Barnsley.  Bishop John was a guest at the event.  The adjudicators included Frank McDermott, who for many years was the Diocesan Director of schools, and Angela Powell, who is responsible for CAFOD education in the Diocese.

Participants in the competition came from Sheffield, Doncaster and Barnsley in the Hallam Diocese, Wakefield in the Leeds Diocese and Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Lincoln, all in Nottingham Diocese.  On the day there were Diocesan entries from St Pius Catholic High School at Wath, the McCauley School at Doncaster. Holy Trinity, Barnsley, Mount St Mary’s at Spinkhill and one from St Teresa’s Parish in Darton.

Each speaker had to speak for four minutes on a selected topic, which they had chosen.  If the participant speaks for 20 seconds more or less ,then penalty points are applied.  Topics included, “Honesty is always the best policy”, “Pope Francis is cool”, “Abortion is never acceptable”, “Immigration benefits society” and “Television has too much influence on our lives”.

An audience of about one hundred, most of whom had never attended a Public Speaking Competition, listened and were enthralled by the performances of our sixteen and seventeen year olds.  Everyone agreed that it had been an afternoon very well spent.  The speakers themselves were all competing for the first time.  They all acquitted themselves really well.

The winner, speaking on “Pope Francis is cool”, was Theo Madigan from Mount St Mary’s.  Sam Angel from St Wilfrid’s Catholic High School and Sixth Form College in Featherstone, Pontefract came second, while Lucy Towers of Holy Trinity was third.  All contestants received a certificate plus a cheque for £20.  Lucy in third place received £50, Sam was awarded £75 and Theo received £100.  He was also presented with the Mary Neal Public Speaking Trophy which his school will retain for one year.

Public speaking contest s

Pictured are the participants from the following schools, St Wilfrid’s, Featherstone, St Pius, Mount St Mary’s, Holy Trinity, The McCauley and St Teresa’s Parish, Darton.