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Norwood student wins national Christmas artwork contest

The winning entry by Frederick "Freddy" Elhayek of St. Catherine of Siena School, Norwood, in the Missionary Childhood Association's Christmas national artwork contest. Pilot photo/courtesy Missionary Childhood Association

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BRAINTREE -- For the second year in a row, a student of St. Catherine of Siena School in Norwood has been selected as one of 24 national winners in the Missionary Childhood Association's Christmas artwork contest.

Frederick "Freddy" Elhayek was in the third grade when he entered the annual contest. He used crayons, pencils, oil pastels, and paint to create his picture of the infant Jesus lying in the manger, smiling up at the Star of Bethlehem.

"Because it was near Christmas, I thought it would be representing Christ and the coming of our savior Jesus," Freddy said in a Dec. 3 Zoom meeting held for Mission Education Day.

The contest is open to K-8 students in Catholic schools, parish religious education programs, and Catholic homeschool programs. About 10,000 students from across the United States enter each year.

In a Dec. 13 interview, Freddy, who is now in the fourth grade, said that when he found out he had won, "I felt really happy and glad, and very proud of myself."

MCA made Freddy's artwork into Christmas cards for the schools, parishes, donors to the missions, and Freddy's family and school. In years when the archdiocese does not have a national winner, they pick a winner themselves and use their entry to make Christmas cards.

MCA recognized Freddy's achievement during the virtual Mission Education Day meeting. Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley was present in the meeting, which was viewed by over 600 students.

The cardinal spoke about why he became a priest of an order that serves the missions rather than a diocesan priest. He explained that he was introduced to the missions as a child. He himself was a member of MCA, which at that time was called Association of the Holy Childhood.

Cardinal O'Malley encouraged the students to be active members of MCA and to pray about their vocations, asking God how he wants them to use their time, talent, and treasure as missionary disciples.

"Freddy's use of his artwork to bring the Gospel message to others is a great example of a student doing just what the cardinal encouraged them to do!" Maureen Heil said in an email to The Pilot. She is the director of programs and development for the Pontifical Mission Societies in the archdiocese.

Typically, the contest winners are honored at a special Mass held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, where the winning artwork is displayed during Advent. During the Zoom meeting, Heil said that although this event is not happening this year, they will try to hold an event once pandemic restrictions have been eased.

"Thank you for sharing your talent with us and with the missions," Heil said to Freddy.

Heil also noted that the deadline for entering next year's Christmas artwork contest is Jan. 31, 2021.

Those seeking additional information on participating in the 2021 contest can contact Maureen Heil at the Missionary Childhood Association at 617-779-3871 or mheil@propfaithboston.org.

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