Two local students earn top Christmas art honors

Two St. Martha Catholic School students are 2020-2021 Missionary Childhood Association (MCA) Christmas Artwork Contest winners.

Eighth grader Paulina Wilk and fourth grader Chloe Smith were among 24 winners of this year’s contest who represent Dioceses across the country. All winners are featured as MCA eGreetings, which launched on the First Sunday of Advent at Their artwork will be displayed at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. through the Advent and Christmas Seasons this year.

An annual MCA awards ceremony was held Dec. 3, 2021, at the National Shrine for winners and their families. Mass followed and was celebrated by Msgr. Kieran E. Harrington, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (TPMS) in the United States, which include MCA.

“These young people are missionaries through their art, as their drawings proclaim the Good News of Jesus’ birth,” said Msgr. Harrington. “The Mission Church is blessed by the enthusiasm shown by these young artists – and by their commitment to mission, in prayer and sacrifice.”

Hundreds of submissions were received, both through the mail and online, for this annual competition which dates back to 1933. Back then, MCA used children’s artwork on Christmas seals. Christmas cards were introduced in 2005, and in 2007 eGreetings were launched with these drawings depicting scenes of the Christmas story: shepherds and angels, the Three Kings and the Holy Family, the animals present by the manger, and the Infant Jesus.

Paulina Wilk attended the awards ceremony with her parents. Mom, Dorothy Wilk, said Paulina has always enjoyed being an artist and has excelled ever since she was a little girl. “This was such an honor for her,” Dorothy Wilk said. “The ceremony was wonderful and to see her artwork on display at the Basilica was special.”

This was not the first time St. Martha Catholic School students have been recognized in the MCA Christmas Artwork Contest. Students from the school have been recognized multiple times through the years.

Mary Jo Salomone, Art Director at St. Marth, said Paulina and Chloe, along with each of her students, are amazing artists. Throughout the years Salomone takes time to ensure her students take part in the different art competitions and they have been honored to receive numerous awards.

“They never lose sight that each award is a gift from God which should be shared with others,” Salomone said. “Sharing God’s gifts with others every day of the year is the true meaning of Christmas.”

Father Bob Kantor, Director of the Diocese Office of the Propagation of the Faith (Missions Office), coordinates Diocesan mission work was very happy when he was notified. “Great news not only for the student winners and their families, but for St. Martha’s School and our Mission Office!”

An agency of the Pontifical Mission Societies, the MCA asks children in the nation’s elementary schools and parish religious education programs and those who are home-schooled to submit their artwork to illustrate “The Nativity & Mission.”

The MCA was founded in France in 1843 by Bishop Charles de Forbin Jansen. Its purpose is to encourage all children to be aware of the needs of children living in mission Dioceses throughout the world and support them both spiritually and sacrificially. Today it is in 110 countries and helps make Jesus known to children all over the world. Under its banner “children helping children”, monies raised through schools are directed towards self-help programs involving the building of schools, the provision of health and nutrition programs and medications, school fees, as well as teaching and learning resources.

For more information, please contact the Diocesan Office of the Propagation of the Faith (Missions Office) at 239-592-1949 or email