KJZT Junior Wins CCFT Essay Contest

The Czech Catholic Foundation of Texas (CCFT) held its second annual Youth Essay Contest. The contest was open to 11th and 12th grade students who are members of either CCFT, KJZT Family Life, or KJT Catholic Union of Texas. This year’s essay was about Saint Agnes of Bohemia, how she influenced the time and place in which she lived and discussed her canonization and the Velvet Revolution.

Nicole Enders received the CCFT award for her essay titled, “Saint Agnes of Bohemia: A National Hero.” Nicole is a senior in West High School in West, Texas, attends St. Mary’s Church of the Assumption in West, and is a member of KJZT Society #11. Nicole is the daughter of Becky and Steven Enders. The award was $500 in cash.

Nicole’s award was presented by Carol Filer, CCFT Secretary and Essay Chair during the KJZT #11 West meeting on December 10th. In addition to the cash award, Nicole will receive an icon of St. Ludmila and CCFT membership.

The CCFT was established and recognized by the IRS Code under Section 501(c)(3) in 2018 as a non-profit organization. The mission of the Czech Catholic Foundation of Texas (CCFT) is “to document, study, preserve, celebrate and perpetuate all elements of the Czech Catholic faith transplanted to Texas by immigrants from the Czech lands; and to strengthen ties with Czech Catholics of the ancestral homeland evangelized by SS Cyril and Methodius.”

The award-winning essay by Nicole Enders of 11 West is below. Congratulations, Nicole! Thank you for representing KJZT Family Life so wonderfully.

Pictured above (L to R) are KJZT Junior member Nicole Enders of Society No. 11 West and Carol Filer, CCFT Secretary and Essay Chair.

Saint Agnes of Bohemia: A National Hero

By Nicole Enders

            Saint Agnes of Bohemia has received many different names: princess, sister, and saint. All of these nicknames represent the different lives she has touched, but the word princess resonates with me the most. As a child, I had always dreamt of becoming a princess. The shiny jewels, the knight in shining armor, and the tall castles had always appealed to me. However, that was not the case for St. Agnes. St. Agnes left behind her royal duties in pursuit of the Lord, and through her humble example, she was given an eternal reward.

Saint Agnes of Bohemia, also known as Saint Agnes of Prague, was born January 1211 to King Ottokar I and Queen Constance, and her feast day is March 2. Before Saint Agnes was born, her mother received a message from God saying, “Do not be surprised, the child whom you carry in your womb will one day wear that garment, and she will be a light to the whole kingdom of Bohemia.” [i] The garment referred to a grey tunic, typically associated with nuns.  She received many marriage proposals; however, she declined because she wanted to live a life dedicated to Jesus Christ. This rejection was an important step in her religious journey because this shows her separation from the crown. Through the message from God and Agnes’s rejection, Agnes began her life as a holy woman.

When Agnes was a nun, she began to impact the lives around her. She spent her time in prayer and fasting, but Agnes also formed the “Order of the Cross with the Red Star.” This organization, mostly comprised of friars, spent its time treating those in the hospital and assisting in pastoral care. As Agnes was born with wealth due to her royalty, so she used her riches to build a monastery of the Order of Poor Clare nuns, a hospital for the poor, and a monastery for the Order of Friars Minor.  It was one  of the first Gothic buildings in Prague. Ultimately, Saint Agnes of Bohemia was an influential leader in her time because she tended to the sick by organizing the Order of the Cross with the Red Star, and she helped religious orders by giving them a home.

Agnes also helped others by setting a good example. Most people would choose to live a life of wealth and stick to materialistic desires. On the contrary, St. Agnes was willing to throw away her fame and her riches to live a holy life with God. She chose God over money, and by doing so, she demonstrated that God is better than any item here on earth. Also, Saint Agnes would spend her day praying and would become known for her sinless nature. She was the first abbess of the monastery of Poor Clare although wanted to be known as Senior Sister.   Pope John Paul II recognized her devotion to Christ by saying, “She is an example of courage and spiritual help for the young people who generously consecrate themselves to the religious life; for all those who follow Christ she is a stimulus of charity practiced toward everyone with total dedication, overcoming every barrier of race, nation or mentality; she is the heavenly protectress of our difficult daily journey.” [ii] Pope John Paul II’s remembrance of her proves that Saint Agnes’s religious example has encouraged others in recent times to explore the life of Christ.

Saint Agnes’s spiritual legacy continued to flourish during her canonization. In 1328, Elisabeth of Bohemia sought the canonization of Saint Agnes, but this request was not recognized until centuries later.  She was canonized November 12, 1989 in Rome, just before the  Velvet Revolution that began November 17, 1989 and was an effort for Czechoslovakian citizens to escape 40 years of communism. Then, on November 25, a Mass was held to celebrate Saint Agnes’s canonization that brought together fifty-thousand people, and during the sermon, Cardinal Tomášek commented on the political situation facing Czechoslovakia. He explained how he supported the citizens and wanted the reign of communism to end. Not only did this sermon inspire those who attended the Mass, but news of this sermon spread and inspired others outside of the church to revolt against the communist government. One month later, on December 29, the Velvet Revolution drew to a close as a new form of government was introduced: a parliamentary republic. Later, a message was written on the glass window of the Convent of St. Anges of Bohemia: “Dear Agnes, thank you for the protective hand you held over us on November 25, 1989. Please continue to keep your hand ready, we may need it again.”[iii] These words of gratitude referred to the Mass that celebrated her canonization. During this Mass, she brought together thousands of people and consequently inspired them to end communism in Czechoslovakia. Even though St. Agnes has been dead for many centuries, she still performs miracles that are capable of taking down governments.

St. Agnes continues to be a perfect role model for me and other Catholics on their  faith journey by demonstrating the rewards of living a life of holiness.   By forming the Order of the Cross with the Red Star, she was able to save lives. All of her work dedicated to God proved to be worthwhile because she was able to aid in the fall of Communism in Czechoslovakia. Saint Agnes’s life serves as an example to prove that there is everlasting in reward in a holy life. Agnes leaves me with the message that if I am willing to follow Christ, I will be eternally rewarded.

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