Two students from the archdiocese used their artistic talent for a good cause in entering the 2016-17 Catholic Campaign for Human Development Multimedia Youth Contest.
Cor Jesu sophomore Kelly Beekman won the grand prize for her song, "One of Millions." Fellow Cor Jesu sophomore Emma Mohrmann won third place in the grades 10-12 division for her artwork, "It Takes 17 Muscles to Smile." They were among the five national award winners in the contest.
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) Multimedia Youth Contest for students in grades 7-12 helps students learn about poverty in the U.S., its root causes, and faith-inspired efforts to address poverty, especially through the CCHD. The domestic anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic bishops is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty by funding community programs that empower low-income people to find solutions to problems that impact their lives, families and communities.
'Spread God's work'
Beekman started writing songs in earnest this school year, and her skill blossomed after taking a music theory class at Cor Jesu. Her background includes performing with the St. Louis Children's Choir for 10 years and taking voice lessons. She plays the cello and piano.
Cor Jesu music director Kathleen Wobbe Pottinger "has definitely fostered musical growth within me," Beekman said. "Music is something I've always been passionate about. I've been surrounded by music for so much of my life. I've always admired composers and fell in love with songs I've song or played and thought it would be really cool if I could do something like that."
She wants her song to inspire people to support the bishops' anti-poverty campaign. "I love that it's Catholics supporting social-justice causes, those who are impoverished," Beekman said. "They're doing what I believe to be God's work. That's why we're here, to spread God's work and to help others."
The long-term effort to help people in poverty become financially stable "is so important and really helps them turn things around," the parishioner of Incarnate Word in Chesterfield said.
'Putting others before yourself'
The multimedia contest combined two of Mohrmann's passions — helping the community and doing art.
The sophomore normally focuses on drawing. But with the contest, "I wanted to go outside of my comfort zone," she said. "When you're helping out people in poverty, it's not one big action, it's a lot of small actions coming together to help. I thought collage would represent that really well."
Mohrmann wanted to use painting as well, reasoning that it "is one medium, and when you look at someone who is poor a lot of times you just see what's on the surface and you don't see what's on the inside. That's why I decided to contrast that with collage. The collage shows what you can do to help bring more depth and meaning to their life."
An Incarnate Word parishioner, Mohrmann shares the values of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. "To me that's what being Catholic is helping out others, putting others before yourself," she said. "That's what Jesus did."
Art classes at school and a weekend art program have helped fine tune her talent. At Cor Jesu, "I'm surrounded by people who are passionate about what they're doing," she said. "They're all very motivated and they challenge each other, but it's also a huge supportive community."
Bridget Rush, peace and justice coordinator at Cor Jesu, praised the students for setting "aside time to do research and (using) their talents and hearts to express their compassion for others. They did not do this for a grade. Their art is a vehicle for other students to learn from them."
Beekman, who is in the chamber choir, liturgical choir, sophomore choir and orchestra at Cor Jesu, will receive $500 and gets to pick a local CCHD group to receive a matching $500 grant. Cor Jesu also will receive a $500 gift from RCL Benzinger, a publisher of Catholic religious education materials and a partner in the administration and judging of the art contest.
Mohrmann, who is in the art club and runs track and cross country at Cor Jesu, will receive a $250 prize and will choose a local CCHD group for a matching grant. Cor Jesu will receive an additional $150 gift in honor of Mohrmann's win.
Listen to the song: