The Catholic Writers’ Guild of England and Wales is proud of its history, which goes back to the days of G.K. Chesterton, and the team producing his “GK’s Weekly”, back before the Second World War.
The Guild’s London branch, known as The Keys, meets regularly at St Mary Moorfields Church, in the City of London. Its chaplain is the parish priest of St Mary’s, Canon Peter Newby. The Master of the Guild is journalist James Kelly, and the secretary is publisher Delia Gaze.
For the past several years, the Guild has organised the Catholic Young Writer Award, open to all young people studying at Catholic secondary schools in Britain. The Award in sponsored as a joint project with the Catholic Union of Great Britain, an organisation for Catholic men and women involved in public life.
For the 2013 Award, young people were invited to explore the subject of God’s mercy and forgiveness. They were asked to write something in prose or poetry on the theme of the parable of the Prodigal Son, or to write a reply to a friend, who has said “I don’t need to go to confession – I don’t commit sins”. A large number of essays arrived at the Catholic Union office, from schools across Britain. The winner was Cecile Janssen, of St Mary’s School, Ascot. Her letter to an imaginary friend was forthright, thoughtful, and challenging.
Every year, the young winner of the Award comes to a Guild meeting to receive the prize – a shield to be kept for one year, a cash prize of £50 and a collection of books donated by members of the Guild. Cecile is pictured here with Antony Tyler, who was Master of the Guild when the Award was first established. (James Kelly, the current Master, chaired the meeting.) Antony runs Fisher Press, an independent publishing company, and donated two books as part of Cecile’s prize. The other books included a copy of YOUCAT, the new Youth Catechism, donated by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, which supplied YOUCATs for the young people at World Youth Day.
Pupils at a number of schools won runner-up prizes, including copies of YOUCAT, or prayer-books.
The coveted Catholic Young Writer shield bears the names of all the annual winners, and is rapidly filling up. In due course, it will be mounted on to a larger shield, and the project is set to continue for years to come.
Cecile arrived at the Guild meeting with her mother and parish priest. After Mass, they enjoyed dinner with Guild members, and then Cecile received her prizes from the guest speaker for the evening, columnist Christopher Howse of the Daily Telegraph.