By SAMANTHA SMITH, Staff Writer | Published January 21, 2021
ATLANTA—Poster drawings of tall trees, signs of love and peace, and eloquent essays by Catholic school students complement this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.
Hosted by the Office of Intercultural Ministries for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, the annual celebration includes a young adult event, Mass and youth celebration that honor the work of nonviolence and racial equality of Dr. King. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, events were available online.
This year’s theme was from Isaiah 61:3, “They will be called oaks of justice, the planting of the Lord to show his glory.”
Archbishop Gregory Hartmayer, OFM Conv., was homilist for the Mass, held Saturday, Jan. 16. The archbishop spoke of Dr. King’s legacy.
“As a man who had chosen the path of involvement, he challenged this country, all people of good will, take up a new road, a new life, where former enemies became new friends,” said Archbishop Hartmayer. “As one whose heart had been moved by God, [Dr. King] knew that we are less prone to hate our enemies when we discover the truth—that there is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us.”
The archbishop said Dr. King allowed God to speak to his heart.
“His eyes were opened by God, so that he could see more than an impossible dream, more than an unreachable goal or an unsolvable problem,” he said.
Contest winners honored
Kate Santana, first-place winner of this year’s essay contest, wrote about a community becoming “strong oaks for the Lord.”
“We can serve as examples and encourage others to fight for justice as living signs of God’s love, mercy, peace, and joy by striving to remember and remind others of the dignity we all have,” said Santana, a student at St. Catherine of Siena School in Kennesaw.
Abigail Gregory from St. Thomas More School, Decatur, won second place for the essay contest and Nicholas Sowers from Our Lady of Assumption School in Atlanta received the third-place award.
The winner of this year’s poster contest was Finn Hesse Walkes, a student at St. Thomas More School in Decatur. A committee from the Office of Intercultural Ministries chose this award.
Walkes drew trees with the branches in the shape of hands, representing justice, people, kindness and equality. Regan Bartlett from Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Atlanta won third place and Vincent Cao from St. John the Evangelist in Hapeville won second place.
Staff of the Smyrna office select the Chancery Choice poster contest winners. The tie for first place went to Cao and Bartlett, placement winners in the overall poster contest.
Bartlett drew a tree with a ribbon including the theme surrounding its trunk. An image of Dr. King and the American flag sit in the background. Cao’s artwork showed how people of many nationalities work together to create a tree of justice, rooted in love.
Lainey Speckhart from Holy Redeemer School in Johns Creek won second place in the Chancery Choice poster contest. There was a tie for third place between Martin Castro from Queen of Angels School in Roswell and Vincent Dang of Our Lady of Victory School in Tyrone.
A virtual Zoom event was held to honor the students on Sunday, Jan. 17.