Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some commonly asked questions. If your question isn't answered here, get in touch with us at

What is the deadline for submission?

17 February 2024. Entries received after this date will not be considered.

How strict is the lower age limit?

We can include young people who turned 13 on or before 31 August 2023. This allows all students in the 13/14 aged year group to enter the competition.

What should my piece of writing/image be about?

We are looking for pieces of writing and images that demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the issue of biodiversity and highlight people, communities and/or organisations trying to build a sustainable future.

To give some examples: If you're inspired by Pope Francis, you might create a piece of writing/image showing how a school is conserving a local habitat in line with his teaching in Laudato Si'. Or you might create a piece of writing/image about valuing other species in your own community, country and/or internationally.

For more ideas, see Information about the Theme.

How do I know my entry has been submitted successfully?

Each piece of writing or image entered into the Competition must be submitted electronically through An acknowledgement is displayed to confirm that you have submitted your entry successfully.

Must submissions have titles?


Do Columban Missionaries need to be mentioned in the entry?

Not necessarily, but you are welcome to mention any aspect of Columban mission work related to the theme.

Do I have to be Catholic to participate?

No, but you must have respect for the Catholic ethos of the Columban Missionaries.

Do I need to submit a parent or guardian consent form with my entry?

No, but we may need your teacher to verify that your entry is original and not the product of AI technology.

When will I receive news about the winners of the competition?

Winners to be contacted personally and announced on Columban media on 21 March 2024, the International Day of Forests.

Can I enter both the written and image sections of the competition?

Yes, you can submit one entry to each section.

Can I enter if I've entered or won a prize in a previous competition?


I do not wish to have my name/face published in the media and online. Can I still enter the competition?

The winning entries will be published in the Far East magazine, Vocation For Justice newsletter, online on Columban websites in Ireland and Britain, shared on Columban social media, and published in other Catholic media. Full names of authors, their school and a photo (if provided) will be published alongside the winning entries, but if you specifically don't want your name or face published, you can request we publish without a name and/or photo.

Written Entry - Frequently Asked Questions

Can I enter more than one piece of writing?

Only one submission of writing per person.

How strict will the judges be about length of the piece of writing?

Very strict. If you go beyond the maximum length of 1000 words, or below the minimum length of 800 words, your submission will be invalid. The minimum word count for poems is more flexible.

Can I use interviews?


Can I submit images with my piece of writing?

No, written submissions are text only.

Can poems be submitted?

Yes. This year poems will be accepted.

Image Entry - Frequently Asked Questions

Can I enter more than one image?

Only one image submission per person.

What happens if I can’t get permission for every face in my photo?

Rules state that you MUST have permission from everyone who appears in the image. Any images of children used in your submission must have written permission from their parent/guardian. Winners will be required to make the signed permission available to the competition organisers.

Can I submit a digital picture of another form of art that I have created e.g. a painting I have done or a clay moulding I have made?

Yes, that is fine if it is your own work.

Can I include in my submission a digital picture of another form of art that I have seen, e.g. a religious statue or some needlework?

Yes this is fine, although you will need to have consent from the owner or creator of the artwork and you will be required to make this available to the competition organisers.

Can I submit a black and white photograph?

Yes, black and white images are accepted along with colour images.

Can my entry be something that I created at school?

Of course! You do not need permission from your school to enter an image of your artwork. Should your submission feature the work of someone else you must seek permission from the owner or creator of the artwork.

Can I accompany my image with some text?

Images can contain a small amount of text, but this should be used to enhance the image. No watermarks should be added to your image. You must give your image a title and a brief description when submitting it.