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Marin siblings win prizes in archdiocesan Respect Life Essay Contest

February 6, 2015
Christina Gray

One home-schooled St. Hilary Parish family has produced two winners in the 2015 Archdiocese of San Francisco Respect Life Essay Contest.

Mary Blinn, 9, and her brother Evan Blinn, 7, both placed in the archdiocese’s annual essay contest coordinated by the Respect Life Program. The contest was promoted to students in grades one-12.

Mary was named the grand prize winner in the third and fourth-grade division; Evan received an honorable mention in the first and second-grade division.

The annual contest consists of a letter-writing campaign in which students write letters to their parents, pastors, publications, politicians or the pope – depending upon their grade level – expressing their thanks, concerns, suggestions and hope for creating a “culture of life.” The deadline was Dec. 10.

“The contest helps students understand the significance and dignity of every single person God created,” said archdiocesan respect life coordinator Vicki Evans, who notified winners on Jan. 20. “The ideas they express in writing tend to stay with them, and their ideas are unique.”

A total of 38 schools, home schools and parish religious education programs participated in the contest with 427 entries.

As part of her essay prompt, Mary was asked to write a letter to her pastor, Father William Brown of St. Hilary Parish, suggesting ways his flock can defend the poor, the elderly and the unborn.

She used the metaphor of being Christ’s hands and feet. “He doesn’t have hands on this earth; we are his hands,” she wrote in her essay, which described her experiences praying for scared single mothers, serving food to the homeless and visiting the elderly.

“Even though my hands are small, I can reverently pray outside Planned Parenthood because my prayer does not rely on the power of my hands. It relies on the power of my heart,” she continued.

Like many firstborn children, Mary is mature, focused and responsible, her mother said during a family interview with Catholic San Francisco Jan. 30. She declined a rambunctious dress-up session with her younger siblings to finish an assignment and then made lunch for her family.

“The priests of St. Hilary have always said that Mary Blinn will be in charge of the planet when she gets older,” said Father Brown.

Mary, a fourth grader, said she “would actually like to be either a nun or a nurse.”

Mary and Evan, like their younger siblings, Kate, 5, and Anna, 3, are home-schooled in their Tiburon home by their mother, Jamie Blinn, 32.

Jamie is seven months pregnant with a new baby sister the children have affectionately nicknamed “Honk.” She will be named Clare. “It’s remarkable to us how inherent our children’s understanding of the dignity of the human person is,” she said.

She and her husband Matt, 37, a foreign-service diplomat with the U.S. Department of State, home-school their four children, in part, so they can have more influence on their religious education and character development.

The family share a decade of the rosary together each morning; they attend Mass once weekly and even 3-year-old Anna can retell the story of a beatified nun from the 14th century with clarity and drama. On Halloween, they go trick-or-treating as their favorite saints.

“(Sister) Imelda (Lambertini) is really, really cool,” she said. From her mother’s lap, Anna happily describes how the devout young woman died “sooooo happy” after she received her first Communion at age 14.

From his handwritten essay, a letter to his parents, Evan reads aloud:

“Thank you for being so willing to have another baby even though we have five children,” he wrote. “I can help by cleaning the house because Mommy is tired, like St. Therese’s Little Way.”

The contest’s 75 grand prize, first prize and honorable mention award winners will be recognized in an awards liturgy and reception on March 1 at St. Mary’s Cathedral.

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