Madeleine Suhrbier of Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish in Ephrata and Evan Sloane from the Mater Dei Community in Harrisburg were selected as two of 24 national winners of the annual Missionary Childhood Association 2015-16 Christmas Artwork Contest. Their original artwork, selected from more than 5,000 entries, is currently displayed in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., throughout the 2016 Advent/Christmas season.
On Friday, December 2, an awards ceremony at the Shrine, followed by Mass and lunch, was hosted for all finalists and their families. Awards were presented by Reverend Andrew Small, OMI, the national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the US, and Marilyn Santos, Mission Education Director. Winners came from as far as California and Florida for the event.
The honor was especially meaningful to Madeleine and her family. In October 2015, Madeleine’s 14-month-old sister, Mary Grace, a special needs child, passed away. Mary Grace had not been expected to be born alive, but during her short life the family cared tenderly for her. Madeleine’s mother, Kate, said, “Our family was devastated by Mary Grace’s death… caring for Mary Grace was probably the hardest thing our family ever had to do, but we were honored to do so and felt blessed that she lived 14 months – that was a gift from God!”
“Maddie drew her Nativity scene not long after Mary Grace died,” her mother relayed. “I was astonished that Maddie could bring herself to draw again and draw so well. God is so good! Mary is so amazing! What a reward for our dear Madeleine that she won this contest after everything she had just been through.”
The Missionary Childhood Association (MCA) is the Holy Father’s mission society for children. It was established in 1843 by a French Bishop, Charles de Forbin-Jansen, who began the Holy Childhood Association (as it was then known) as an organization of “Children Helping Children.” MCA now exists in 120 countries, and even children in mission countries put together their pennies to help children in other areas who are less fortunate. In the Diocese of Harrisburg, the MCA assists educators and catechists in showing our children how, by virtue of their baptism, we are all called to be missionaries through prayer and sacrifice. The diocesan MCA is part of the Office of Pontifical Missions, under the direction of Reverend Robert F. Sharman.
The Diocese of Harrisburg has been blessed to have MCA Artwork Contest winners for three years straight. Thanks to all our students who submitted artwork!
An entry form for the 2016-17 contest can be found on the diocesan MCA website: www.hbgdiocese.org/MCA, or contact the diocesan Missions Office at email@example.com or 717-657-4804 for more information. Deadline is January 31, 2017.
(Karen Harding is the Diocesan MCA Coordinator.)
By Karen Harding, Special to The Witness