‘A celebration of our faith’ with a twist
What are the four Marian Dogmas?* That was the final question of the first “Know Your Faith” competition held at St. Elizabeth Seton on January 30 as part of National Catholic Schools Week. The event saw students from St. Thomas More, Sioux Falls O’Gorman, and Aberdeen Roncalli High School participating. Each school had a team of students who battled it out in a head-to-head competition to prove their knowledge about Sacred Scripture, Church doctrine, and Church history.
The concept for the competition came from the Catholic Schools in North Dakota. According to organizer Steve Miller, a social studies teacher at St. Thomas More High School in Rapid City, the idea came from his daughter Jordan. She showed a video of the event to Carol Cooper, a religion teacher, who brought it to the principal, Jim Johnston. “He came into my room and said, ‘hey can you go to Dickenson.’ It was incredible for us to witness the excitement, the atmosphere, the involvement of the bishop and the priests, and the kids,” he explained. “We wanted to get our school and the schools in the state of South Dakota excited about Catholic Education, so what better way than to do this.”
“I thought this event allowed our students to see that they are a part of something bigger than themselves,” explained Father Tony Klein, coach of the team from Sioux Falls O’Gorman. “A lot of our students have grown up in the same Catholic school system, so their understanding of the Catholic Church as a more universal thing is not something that they all have a lot of exposure to.”
The teams were chosen after a written test was administered to the entire student body. The final teams were selected from each school following a school-level “Know Your Faith” competition, with the winning team of each school representing their student body at the statewide event.
The school competition was especially close at St. Thomas More, where the seniors beat the freshman by one point. “My team and I all had our hearts pounding remembering the school-wide competition, where we decided to go all in. None of us wanted to lose to the freshman team and decided it was all or nothing. We slid by for the win,” explained Megan Lee, a team member from St. Thomas More.
The state competition featured then-Deacon Robert Kinyon, Rapid City, and Father Klein as MCs for the event. The theme was the “Lord of The Rings.” Teams were introduced with a short video before the competition began describing each team as a different group from the film — men from the east, elves from the more northeasterly direction, and hobbits from the west. The crowd, standing in the dark with glow sticks, beach balls, and light-up swords cheered the teams on all while participating in games, a conga line, and dancing.
“I think the kids were excited to compete,” said Father Klein, who had a small cheering section that traveled from Sioux Falls to cheer on their team. “This is something new and unique, so they got excited to travel and support their classmates.”
“I wanted to give our kids something that they can use to show how much they know and how proud they are to be Catholic. It was giving them a celebration of our faith. Rarely do we get to have a huge celebration, with dancing and cheering. I think that is incredibly important for our youth,” said Miller.
Emily Mycofiski from the O’Gorman team used the word eutrapelia, from the Greek word “witness” to describe the event. “It refers to good old Christian fun,” she said. “This was an exciting and entertaining event centering around my faith. It was good to see so many people my age having a fun time, cheering, and praying together.”
“The competition made me proud of my faith, and my faith knowledge, and excited me to compete with other teenage Catholics,” agreed Lee. “I’m glad I was able to compete and strive for the glory of God in this insane but amazing competition of faith!”
The Sioux Falls O’Gorman Knights emerged victorious this year, scoring the most points for correct answers. To prepare for the event, the team practiced over lunch breaks about a week before the competition and then reviewed content on the car ride to Rapid City. They found that studying together was a great way to stay unified as a team. “My biggest fear was that the team would be split on a question, and we would get it wrong because of that,” said Mycofski. “I think that studying together helped us think as one team rather than a group of individuals.”
After three rounds, the team from St. Thomas More faced the same option as they did in the school round and “just like all the saints and holy people before us, we decided to risk it all, ” said Lee. “Even though we didn’t win, we gave it all to God and had fun!”
*The four Marian Dogmas: Mary’s Divine Motherhood, Mary’s Perpetual Virginity, Mary’s Immaculate Conception, and Mary’s Bodily Assumption into Heaven.