In 2014 the Order of the Knights of St Columbanus, to celebrate their centenary in 2015, organised a public speaking competition entitled “Young People Find Language for their Faith” for students in years 12, 13 or 14 in Northern Ireland and from Transition year or 5th and 6th Years in Ireland. The one-off competition was so successful it has become an annual event in the school calendar.

 The aims of the competition are

  • Provide opportunities for students to research and study papal encyclicals and church teaching.
  • Encourage students to work as a team in preparing and delivering their presentations.
  • Provide opportunities for the youth to ponder upon and to question Church Teaching enabling their faith to be developed.
  • Affirm teachers who often are working in challenging environments.
  • To assist young people become opinion formers among their peers.
  • To raise the profile of the Order around the country.

The competition meets three of the Order’s objectives

  1. Promoting the extension of practical Christianity in all phases of life.
  2. Honour the Faith.
  3. Preparing members for the apostolate.

Archbishop Eamon Martin when speaking  recently to  young people in London said, “Young people are the agents of evangelisation to each other and, indeed, to the whole Church.

This competition assists in giving our young people the skills and knowledge to be those agents of evangelisation.

As the competition developed, we have can confirm that opportunities have been provided for:  

  • Raising student self-esteem of students.
  • Networking by students and teachers.
  • For teachers to share teaching resources and team teaching.

Students in making their presentations support their arguments with references from Old and New Testament, Church documents, Church teachings, Papal Encyclicals and statements from different Bishops’ Conferences.

For Non-Catholic Schools references to statements from Church of Ireland Synods, Presbyterian General Assemblies and Methodist Conferences statements (Bishop’s conferences) are welcomed.

Each team is expected to address the topic under discussion in a balanced way.

Teams consist of three members who will deliver their presentation.

The total presentation lasts between 11 and 13 minutes.

When the team presentation is finished, an unseen question is  provided to the team who, after conferring,  will make their response.  

All Ireland Prize-winners

2015 Rathmore Grammar School, Belfast

2016 St Ciaran’s College, Ballygawley

2017 St Louis Grammar School, Kilkeel

2018 Ursuline Secondary School, Thurles

2019 Castlerea Community School

2020 Due to Covid the competition had to be suspended.
Due to Covid  the competition could not be held in 2021.

With students involved in home study an essay competition was organised. The response has been amazing. The competition has arrived at the concluding stages.

We are deeply indebted to those students and teachers who have participated to the Public Speaking and Essay competitions. Their contributions have made our lives much richer.

Further information can be obtained at ss@knightsofstcolumbanus.ie