Students’ winning artwork captures Christmas joy

Christmas joy is captured in the artwork of two Catholic school students from the archdiocese chosen as national winners in the Missionary Childhood Association Christmas Artwork Contest.

A winning submission from Molly Arft, a fourth-grader at Holy Infant School in Ballwin, depicts an angel singing with a sleeping, smiling baby Jesus in front of her. The other winning entry, from Elise McIntyre, a second-grader at St. Justin Martyr School in Sunset Hills, shows Mary holding baby Jesus, both with big smiles and bright eyes. Two big, bright stars shine in the background.

The artwork is reproduced as a Christmas card available at Catholic Supply stores in St. Louis and featured on facebook at MissioUSA for use as e-greetings. The two students traveled to Washington, D.C., to join 22 other honorees from across the country. Their artwork is displayed at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

The association, active in 110 countries, is a papal missionary organization for children of grade-school age. It invites children to help spread the Good News of Jesus while gathering prayers and financial support for children in mission countries.

Molly said she took her time planning her approach, drawing the outline first and then painting it. She chose her design to remind people of peace and of Jesus coming to earth as the Savior.

"I never thought I'd win the national" competition, Molly said. She went to Catholic Supply and saw the artwork on display, a highlight of winning along with the trip to Washington, D.C.

Besides art, Molly likes reading class and writing one-page stories. "All the teachers are really nice and supportive" at Holy Infant, she said.

Molly's third-grade teacher, Shari Brinker, witnessed Molly's talent for art and music last school year. "I have a lot of her paintings and drawings hanging in my classroom still," Brinker said.

"We try to implement the arts within all our of curriculum here," Brinker said. "This particular contest is one that always has been very special to us."

Supporting the missions is important at Holy Infant, Brinker said, teaching a global perspective, "not just helping those we see, but helping those around the world we don't always think of all the time."

Mission fundraisers are held each month at Holy Infant School, benefiting the Missionary Childhood Association.

To Elise, Christmas means the birthday of Jesus. She chose her design since "Mary is important to me because she is the mother of Jesus. I pray to her."

Best of all, her work is making a difference for a cause she supports. "I am happy to go to Mass and give money to the Missionary Childhood Association. If you buy a card, all of the money raised goes to help kids," Elise said.

Art is her favorite class, and she said that "when I grow up I want to be an art teacher. Or someone who works with animals. I also enjoy music and P.E. classes. I like to read and go to art places like the pottery studio. I do gymnastics and play soccer and basketball."

Elise is the second student from St. Justin selected as a national winner, with Ella Traina winning in 2015. Olivia Forti of Christ Prince of Peace School in Manchester won last year.

This year, 13 of the 20 entries honored by the Archdiocese of St. Louis were from St. Justin.

St. Justin art teacher Patti Frentzel's students submitted art for the contest for most of the 15 years she has taught at the school. "I assign a subject chosen from the list given, and I choose the media and process to be used. After reading the Bible story from Luke and viewing some images on the internet, I give specific directions for how to draw the many ways they might choose to have Mary holding Jesus. They are free to choose their own colors, add details and create a background," Frentzel explained.

"I try to bring up God's awesome creativity whenever possible such as when viewing images of nature or talking about symmetry or even looking at butterflies and their 'eyes' on their wings which help them look like big creatures to their predators," the teacher added.

Elise is very thoughtful in making of her artwork, Frentzel said, taking time to imagine what she wants to do, then working carefully, focused and with confidence. 

Artwork by Elise McIntyre
Second grade
St. Justin School

INSIDE OF CARD: May the love of Jesus overflow from you to others this Christmas season and all the year long.

BIBLE VERSE: "..and she gave birth to a son, her first-born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the living-space." - Luke 2:7

Artwork by Molly Arft
Fourth grade
Holy Infant School

INSIDE: Sending God's peace and love at Christmas

BIBLE VERSE: The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born to you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests". - Luke 2:10-14 

>> Missionary Childhood Association

The Missionary Childhood Association offers young Catholics and their families opportunities to respond to the call to share their faith — the call to missionary discipleship — first heard at baptism. Materials highlight the association's motto, "Children Helping Children," present stories from the missions and highlight saints and individuals who reflect and assist in bringing the gift of peace.

Funds contributed to the association help buy Bibles, provide clean drinking water and medicine, help women religious buy blankets and rice for orphanages, buy mosquito netting for classrooms and much more.

The Missionary Childhood Association in the Archdiocese of St. Louis allows students to take part in activities throughout the year that foster awareness of the missionary nature of the Church.

Proceeds from the sale of the Christmas card designed by Elise McIntyre of St. Justin Martyr Parish in Sunset Hills and Molly Arft of Holy Infant Parish in Ballwin will benefit the association's work. A package of 10 cards is available for $10 at Catholic Supply of St. Louis locations at 6759 Chippewa St. in the St. Louis Hills neighborhood of south St. Louis, 2953 Highway K in O'Fallon and at 14069 Manchester Road in Ballwin.

For information on the missions, visit www.stlmissions.org. 

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