Timeline and Judges

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Essay Contest Timeline

  • Essays/Works are sorted into five categories: Moral, Systematic, Liturgical, Biblical, and Historical Theology, as well as Art. 
  • Each Category Judge scores their respective essays. Some essays are selected for publication as blog articles, some are selected for both publication AND prize money, and other essays are declined for publication.
  • Entrants are alerted of their publication status throughout the contest. 
  • A second panel of Publication Judges scores the top essays in each category. The category winners win prize money and are included in our Hall of Fame.
  • Category Winners win $25 each, and the top three essays win a bonus $50, $25, and $15, respectively.

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.

Maria Schmidt: Systematic Theology

Maria is in her junior year of undergraduate studies at Ave Maria University in Florida. She is double-majoring in philosophy and theology with plans to enter Ave’s five-year program to pursue an M.A. in Theology. Maria fell in love with the liberal arts when she transferred to a classical Catholic academy in her sophomore year of high school. She is fascinated by the unity of reality, where everything plays a part in the vision of the whole. In the future, Maria hopes to teach theology and philosophy near her family in Wisconsin, but she is open to wherever God may call her. When Maria is not reading or listening to podcasts, she can be found exploring the great outdoors, singing classical and sacred music, and enjoying great conversations with friends. She won Best Systematic Theology Essay in the 2022 Summer Theology Essay Contest.

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. She graduated from The Catholic University of America with her B.A. in Theology and Psychology in 2022, and she is currently studying for her M.S.W. in Social Work there.

Kevin Roach: Biblical Theology

Mary Ryan: Historical Theology

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

Rachel McLaughlin: Art/Music

Final Judges

CJ Williams

C.J. Williams is a full-time freelance writer, video and print editor, videographer, and web designer. She has served as the executive editor for multiple publications, including Life Matters Journal; played videographer to human rights walks in Europe (hello, Ireland!); designed and launched websites for small businesses and nonprofits; and edited research projects and papers for the general public for MIT scientists. She likes to move between print editing and publishing to animation and screenwriting, and from marketing and web design to poetry, to keep things fresh, and is currently brushing up on her coding skills and Russian. 

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 recently produced a video series on the Ecumenical Councils. His favorite theologian is Francis Sullivan and his favorite philosopher is Xavier Zubiri.


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