When students create an image of the Most Holy Eucharist, the results can be inspirational.
Using vivid colors and inspiring imagery, seven Diocesan Catholic schools students were recently honored for their artwork as part of “The Most Holy Eucharist: The Riches of His Glorious Inheritance” devotional project. The theme was approved and encouraged by Bishop Frank J. Dewane as it supports the ongoing National Eucharistic Revival, led by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The recognition came on April 20, 2023, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, where a Most Holy Eucharist Devotional Mass was celebrated by Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocese Superintendent of Catholic Education.
Father Belmonte said the goal of this year’s devotional project was to bring students a deeper awareness and more ardent love of our Lord’s Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist.
Invited to the Mass were the artists and their families (see below for winning artwork), as well as principals, art teachers and junior catechists from each of the 12 Diocese elementary schools who helped deliver the devotional message to their respective classmates. High school students were taught about the 15 Eucharistic miracles during their theology classes.
Another element of the devotional project was to encourage students to get into the habit of visiting the Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist by going to Mass or attending adoration. The Blessed Sacrament visitation tracker was created to allow schools to log their progress from November through April. In the first five months, more than 50,000 visits to the Most Holy Eucharist had been made by the students.
For the art project, seven winning artists were selected from among more than 200 entries from Diocesan Catholic students and were recognized at a reception in the Parish Hall following the Mass. Honorees were selected by representatives from the Diocesan Department of Catholic Education.
Emmanuel Ronquillo, a 6th grader at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton, created an image of Christ crucified with the Most Holy Eucharist emanating from behind the cross to shine its light on the world. “This is what the Most Holy Eucharist is all about – Christ dying on the cross for us all.”
As part of the recognition, the artists received an enlarged framed and printed version of their winning artwork with a ribbon and holy cards. The cards were distributed for use at each school and on the reverse includes the prayer: “Devotional Prayer to the Most Holy Eucharist.”
The Diocesan devotional project during the 2021-2022 academic year was the Saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Saints, and during the 2020-2021 academic year it was St. Joseph.
The art contest winners are:
Rosalie Bartsch, kindergarten, Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Catholic School, Ave Maria;
Owen Wessal, 3rd grade, St. Catherine Catholic School, Sebring;
Gabriela Wilk, 5th grade, St. Martha Catholic School, Sarasota;
Emmanuel Ronquillo, 6th grade, St. Joseph Catholic School, Bradenton;
Vance Byrd, 9th grade, Bishop Verot Catholic High School, Fort Myers;
Grace Breen, 10th grade, Bishop Verot;
Hailey Renner, 11th grade, Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School, Sarasota.