Timeline and Judges

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Essay Contest Timeline

  • Essays are sorted into five categories: Moral, Systematic, Liturgical, Biblical, and Historical Theology. 
  • Each Category Judge scores their respective essays. Some essays are selected for publication as blog articles, three essays are selected for consideration for publication in our journal and prize money, and other essays are declined for publication altogether.
  • Entrants are alerted 
  • A second panel of Publication Judges scores the top three essays from each category. The three Publication Judges’ scores are tallied, and the top scoring essay in each category, as well as one “wild-card” essay and a creative essay/artwork are published in a special section of this website. That is a total of SEVEN essays.
  • The top three scoring essays win $100, $50, and $25, respectively. The other journal publication winners win $20 each. 

Category Judges

Mary Boneno: Moral Theology

Mary Boneno received her B.A. in Theology and Religious Studies from the Catholic University of America in 2022. Originally from Houston, Texas, Mary’s interest in theology formed at a young age while she attended Catholic schools in the archdiocese. Mary is particularly interested in the study of canon law, the works of St. Bonaventure, and Mariology. In her free time, Mary enjoys practicing ballet, watching Downton Abbey, and visiting historic homes with her boyfriend, Ben. Mary currently resides at home in Houston with her parents.

Maureen Francois: Systematic Theology

Maureen is a 2020 graduate of Benedictine College, holding a BA in Evangelization and Catechesis.  She currently works as a Foster Care Caseworker in Omaha, Nebraska, and serves as an editor for Clarifying Catholicism.  In her spare time she enjoys reading, binge watching The Office, making coffee, going on long walks, and playing the ukulele.

Ariel Hobbs: Liturgical Theology

Ariel has always had a love of books, even claiming as a child that her favorite word was “bibliophilic.” Through her love of books, she developed a passion of writing, which helped draw her in to the opportunity of writing for Clarifying Catholicism. As a theology and psychology double major, she hopes to one day teach two subjects that are very dear to her or minister to the Church through her expertise in them. Though teaching is an aspiration of hers, she is open to wherever God calls her. Her favorite topic in theology is liturgical theology, as it is through the sacraments that she feels most drawn to Christ. She has much experience with practical liturgical work, in the sacristy and helping plan large-scale liturgies. Her favorite saints include Sts. Padre Pio, Monica, John Bosco and Our Lady of Fatima.

Joshua Orsi: Biblical Theology

Joshua Orsi is a graduate student at the Catholic University of America, where he is presently completing a Baccalaureate of Sacred Theology. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Messiah University, where he converted to Catholicism his freshman year. He has a keen interest, in particular, in ecclesiastical history and the development of doctrine and is an appreciative reader of the works of Msgr. Philip Hughes and Cardinal Yves Congar. Presently Joshua lives and works for the summer in Theological College, the national diocesan seminary of Catholic University, where he intends to pursue, among other activities, a deeper study of classical languages.

Michael Twohig: Historical Theology

Michael hails from Boston, Massachusetts and attended Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia. He graduated from Christendom in May 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts in History and a minor in Theology. While attending Christendom, he worked as a Resident Assistant for one year and in the college’s Writing Center as a tutor for two, and participated in multiple intramural sports. Beginning this upcoming school year, he will be working as a full-time Humanities teacher at Chesterton Academy of Notre Dame in Spokane, Washington, teaching Latin and Philosophy. Michael loves anything outdoors like hiking and camping, playing soccer, fitness and working out, and reading good books. With regards to theological interests, he is very interested in the thought of St. Augustine and St. Therese of Lisieux, all periods of Church history and the historical development of the Church as an institution, the importance of sacramentality and an ‘enchanted’ worldview, the works and thought of J.R.R. Tolkien, and Marian teachings and devotion.

Final Judges

Joe Bukuras

Joe Bukuras is a journalist with the Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Catholic University, Bukuras has previously worked as a high school theology teacher and as a freelance writer. Bukuras was a writer and part of the leadership team at Clarifying Catholicism.

Bea Cuasay

Bea Cuasay grew up in the Far North Suburbs of Chicago, by the border of Wisconsin. She earned a B.A. in Philosophy at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame in 2021. She completed a minor in Humanistic Studies at Saint Mary’s and a minor in Constitutional Studies at the University of Notre Dame. As an undergraduate, Bea was a Sorin Fellow with the deNicola Center for Ethics and Culture and a Tocqueville Fellow with the Tocqueville Program for Inquiry into Religion and Public Life. She served as editor of the University of Notre Dame Theology Club Zossima Project, a monthly liturgical theology article published in The Irish Rover, and as chair of the 2021 Edith Stein Project Conference, the largest undergraduate-run conference on campus. She assisted Elizabeth Lev in Rome for research on the life of Pope Pius XI and his relationship with the Vatican Museums. After graduation, Bea taught sixth grade at a classical school in Colorado Springs. She currently works in healthcare diagnostics while freelancing in digital media, notably with Catholics for Hire and the National Catholic Register. Bea’s research interests include: philosophical anthropology, intellectual history, historical theology, Thomistic and phenomenological metaphysics, political philosophy, and virtue ethics. More precisely, she is interested in the relationship between Thomism and Personalism, the development of Trinitarian and relational ontology, and the influence of phenomenology upon Catholic philosophy in the 20th century. Outside of prayer, work, and study, Bea can be found singing and playing the piano, guitar, and organ, going on runs and bike rides, and spending time in fellowship with the various Catholic young adult groups of Northern Illinois.

Will Deatherage

Will Deatherage is the Founder and Executive Director of Clarifying Catholicism, as well as the CEO of Catholics for Hire, a small business that specializes in web development, video and podcast production, social media management, and other digital media services. He has an M.A. in Historical-Systematic Theology from The Catholic University of America. Will has a particular interest in epistemology and currently producing a video series on the Ecumenical Councils. His favorite theologian is Bernard Lonergan, and his favorite author is Francis Sullivan.

Mary Ryan

Mary Ryan is a digital media consultant and Church musician from CT. She graduated from Catholic University in May 2021 with her BA in Music Performance and Certificate in Pastoral Ministry. She has served with Catholics for Hire, Clarifying Catholicism, and FOCUS Missionaries in roles regarding writing, digital media, and publishing. Currently, she sings at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Waterbury, CT and works with Catholics for Hire on Website Design and Editing projects.


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