Ella Walker, 16, a homeschooler from Jericho, is the winner of the Diocese of Burlington’s Totus Tuus T-shirt design contest.

“I was inspired to participate in the 2023 Totus Tuus T-shirt Contest because I was up for the challenge of putting my creativity to the test in the hopes of possibly creating a winning design that would help to support/promote Totus Tuus,” she said.

T-shirt designs had to include the words “Jesus Saves!” which is the 2023 contest theme.

Ella, who attends Mass at St. Anthony Church in Burliongton, chose the cross as the primary symbol for her design “because it represents our redemption,” she said. “It was the means by which Jesus saved us from the eternal punishment merited by our sins.”

The banner is intended to add emphasis to the fact that Jesus rose again from the dead, as well as to provide “an ideal display for the theme words,” she explained, adding that the crown encircling the tip of the cross serves two purposes: to be a reminder of “the bitter price at which our salvation was paid” and to symbolize that “Christ is not only our Redeemer, but also our king.”

The purpose of the contest “is to give young people a chance to be a part of the excitement and build-up to Totus Tuus Summer 2023,” said Daniel Lacourrege, diocesan catechetical leader.

Entries came from throughout the Diocese.

“The decision was a tough one because so many of the submissions were very creative and exciting,” Lacourrege said. “We choose Ella’s because we loved how it brought all of the words and Christian symbols together to create a memorable and meaningful design.”

Her design will appear on the official Diocese of Burlington Totus Tuus T-shirt; she also received a $100 gift card.

In related Totus Tuus news, its High School Nights program has received a grant from the Knights of Columbus Catholic Ministries Donor Advised Fund in the Vermont Catholic Community Foundation and a private donation to be used for dinners.

“For the last few years, all Totus Tuus programs across the country have been challenged by lagging participation from teenagers. Even though the daytime Totus Tuus program is more popular than ever with our younger students, teenagers simply have not been showing up to the separate High School Nights,” Lacourrege said. “So, the national Totus Tuus organization has completely redesigned the High School Nights to be more impactful. One of the key elements is providing dinner each night to the teen participants.”

He said the Knights of Columbus grant “will make certain that our parishes are able to provide these fun fellowship dinners across the entire state of Vermont.”

—Originally published in the Summer 2023 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.