Maryknoll Society Honors Junior with National Award

Hannah Hoog ’25 already went downstate for the IHSA state journalism competition in news and feature writing events. But now she has another feather in her cap: She took third place in a national student essay contest — that drew more than 600 submissions — sponsored by the Maryknoll Society.

Maryknoll is an American missionary community comprising Catholic priests, brothers, sisters, and lay people who share a commitment to spreading God’s love among the poor worldwide. 

Sarahi Unzueta, a Mission Educator and Promoter for Maryknoll, presented Hannah with her award at the all-school Easter Mass in April. This month, Hannah and her essay are featured with other winners in the national Maryknoll Magazine. 

“The winner we are celebrating today eloquently articulated her belief that by forsaking pride for forgiveness, violence for peace, and hate for love, we align ourselves with Christ,” Ms. Unzueta said in presenting Hannah with her award and $250 prize.

Here was her prompt: Jesus teaches us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. How can we, as followers of Jesus, stand up for peace and against the growing violence in our country?

As a state qualifying journalist, Hannah is used to receiving a prompt and writing a thoughtful story, on deadline. But this one necessitated more reflection and dialogue with her parents.

“My family and I are practicing Catholics, so I had multiple conversations with them about the Catholic faith and the current state of the world,” Hannah says. “From those conversations, I came to the idea of sacrifice. It was a concrete idea that could be connected to both Jesus and my experiences.”

Hannah called her essay "The Sacrificial Chain." In it, she described her role as a peer juror in the Village of Wheeling, helping middle and high school students confront their own acts of aggression and vandalism. 
“It is easy to ignore or even ignite conflict,” she wrote, “but as Christians we must choose to embody Christ through peaceful action.”

Hannah says she was thrilled to place in the contest, but she credits her grandmother for pushing her to enter.

“My grandma receives the Maryknoll Magazine each month and she always reads through it,” Hannah says. “Knowing that I had been finding writing success in school, my grandma brought the contest to my attention.”

That was two years ago, and Hannah got wrapped up in other things, but her grandmother persisted and reminded her again. 

“I decided I had nothing to lose,” Hannah says, “and it would be a good experience no matter what.”
It turned out to be a good experience for Hannah – and for the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, who found her wisdom offered hope for the future.

“Her testimony resonates deeply with us at Maryknoll,” Ms. Unzueta said, “where we have witnessed countless stories of hope and inspiration from around the world.”
Located in Arlington Heights, IL, Saint Viator High School is a private, co-ed, Catholic school for grades 9-12. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.