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A teenager whose family is active in the Justice and Peace movement has won the writing section of the Columban Young Journalists Competition in Britain, ‘The Challenge of Climate Change’, with her article ‘Facing up to Climate Change’.

Fifteen year-old Anna Joy Marshall of St Mary’s Catholic High School in Chesterfield said, “This competition has made me think about different ways of voicing my concerns about the environment.”  She added that, “What we are doing is unsustainable and the only chance we have to change is now.”

  She wrote in her article, “Climate change highlights the issues of injustice just as much as it destroys natural habitats and wildlife – maybe even more so.  Climate change cannot be a separate issue to social justice because it is both a cause and result of social injustice.  People are affected all around the world.  So often, the people it affects are the marginalised and the poorest …

“… Critical thinking is a key that can help us challenge ourselves and others.  It could be the first step to us resolving the issue of climate change.  It is more important than ever in the world today.  Yet combatting climate change is not something we have to face alone.  I believe action and spirituality sit together.  I was in a workshop by a Columban Missionary and he said, “Prayer and action work together.”  Spirituality is like the roots of a tree and action is the leaves inspired by God.”

  Judge Jo Siedlecka of Independent Catholic News described Anna’s article as “an excellent piece – packed with information, good references to Catholic Social Teaching on climate change and good references to personal experience”.

Judge Nick Benson of The Universe was impressed that Anna and her sister “feel so strongly about social justice that they held a social action day for young people with two workshops focusing on climate change and care for creation”, saying in her article “there is a hunger in young people for doing good things”.  John Vidal, former environment editor at the Guardian, described it as “well-argued and researched, with a strong religious perspective”.

  The competition ‘The Challenge of Climate Change’ was run by the Missionary Society of St Columba and open to young people 15-18 years old.  Two separate strands were held – one for students in Britain and the other for students in Ireland.

  The objective was to encourage students to use their journalistic writing and mobile skills to look at a topical issue which is relevant to Catholic Social Teaching and resonates with Columban mission.

  A formal presentation will be made to the British winners of the 2019 competition at the lobby of parliament on Climate Change in London on 26 June.  Anna’s winning article can be read in full at https://columbans.co.uk/facing-up-to-climate-change-by-anna-joy-marshall.