RESPECT LIFE ESSAY CONTEST

The Respect Life Essay Contest is an annual event for students in grades K-12 in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, with grade-appropriate prompts around a specific theme each year. All students that live and/or attend school in the Archdiocese can participate, including those in Catholic school, public school, and home school. The 2023 contest is now open. Please see below for prompts and resources, which are specific to each grade level, along with full contest instructions. If you have any questions, contact [email protected].

Life is a Blessing—Venerable Dr. Jerome Lejeune

“Again and again, we see this absolute misconception of trying to defeat a disease by eliminating the patient! It’s ridiculous to stand beside a patient and solemnly say, ‘Who is this upstart who refuses to be cured? How dare he resist our art? Let’s get rid of him!’ Medicine becomes mad science when it attacks the patient instead of fighting the disease. We must always be on the patient’s side, always.”

-Dr. Jerome Lejeune

2023 Respect Life Essay Contest Guidelines and Questions

Please read the full instructions here. The videos and other resources are attached below. Entries are due by January 31, 2023.

Winners will receive cash prizes.

Entries should be mailed to:

Archdiocese of San Francisco
Attn: Respect Life Essay Contest
One Peter Yorke Way
San Francisco, CA 94109

A Mass and awards ceremony will be celebrated on Sunday, April 30, 2023 at 11:00 am at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption. An RSVP form will be available as we get closer to the event.

Video for Grades K-4

Prompts for Grades K-4

Kinder: Watch the video. Teachers or parents, have the children draw an image of 2 kids showing how to care for someone who needed their help or needs extra care. A picture that shows that God loves children with Down syndrome.

1st and 2nd grade: Watch the video. Teachers or parents, have the children draw an image of 2 kids showing how to care for someone who needed their help or needs extra care. A picture that shows that God loves children with Down syndrome.  Write a sentence or two describing your picture.

3rd and 4th grade: Watch the video. Teachers or parents, please point out the different ways Down syndrome children might need our help after watching the video. Have the children create a comic strip highlighting that shows how God loves all children including those with Down syndrome. Use the video for inspiration.  Write a sentence explaining your comic strip.

Videos for Grades 5-8

Prompt for Grades 5 and 6:

Watch the two videos.

Write (2-3 paragraphs) – handwritten or typed. 

Write a letter to a doctor who has never heard of Venerable Dr. Jerome Lejeune explaining why he was important and how he worked to promote the dignity of those with Down syndrome.

Prompt for Grades 7 and 8:

Watch the two videos.

Write (3-4 paragraphs essay) – handwritten or typed. 

Based on your knowledge of Venerable Dr. Jerome Lejeune’s life and work, write a letter to medical professionals encouraging them to use their skill and vocation in service of the dignity and sacredness of human life, especially those with Down syndrome. 

Resources for Grades 9-12

Students in Grades 9-12 are to respond to the following directions:

Read the excerpt from Evangelium Vitae and the two articles about Venerable Dr. Jerome Lejeune. Then respond to ONE of the two prompts below.

In his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, Pope St. John Paul II said, 

“A unique responsibility belongs to health-care personnel: doctors, pharmacists, nurses, chaplains, men and women religious, administrators and volunteers. Their profession calls for them to be guardians and servants of human life. In today’s cultural and social context, in which science and the practice of medicine risk losing sight of their inherent ethical dimension, health-care professionals can be strongly tempted at times to become manipulators of life, or even agents of death. In the face of this temptation their responsibility today is greatly increased.” (89)

https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city/news/2021-01/decree-sainthood-canonization-causes-for-saints.html
https://aleteia.org/2021/01/21/vatican-advances-jerome-lejeune-cause-for-canonization/

Choose one of the following prompts to respond to:

How was the life and work of Dr. Jerome Lejeune a reflection of the call to medical professionals to be “guardians and servants of human life,” in particular of those with Down syndrome. How did Dr. Jerome Lejeune respond, by his life and vocation as a medical professional, to the “culture of death?” Write a letter making a case for his canonization.

Based on your knowledge of Dr. Jerome Lejeune’s life and work, write a letter to medical professionals encouraging them to use their skill and vocation in service of the dignity and sacredness of human life, especially those with Down syndrome. 


RESOURCES 9-12:
Lejeune Foundation https://lejeunefoundation.org
Encyclical: Evangelium Vitae, https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25031995_evangelium-vitae.html
Pope Francis on Down syndrome: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/world/news/2020-03/world-down-syndrome-day.html
Lejeune cause for canonization: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city/news/2021-01/decree-sainthood-canonization-causes-for-saints.html
https://aleteia.org/2021/01/21/vatican-advances-jerome-lejeune-cause-for-canonization/