Juan Diego student's prayer wins national contest

Friday, Jun. 27, 2014
Juan Diego student's prayer wins national contest + Enlarge

DRAPER — A Juan Diego Catholic High School student’s inspiration for a national award-winning poem is influenced by growing up on the Skaggs Catholic Center campus from the time she was a toddler in the Guardian Angel Day Care. 
Lauren Popp, as a JDCHS sophomore, was the first place Grade 10 Division winner of the 2014 U.S. Try Prayer! It Works! national contest sponsored by Family Rosary. Her poem was selected out of 11,000 finalists in the 19th annual competition, which attracted more than 22,000 entries and encouraged students to express their faith through art, poetry and prose. 
Popp also won the state contest and received a certificate during the Catholic schools Rosary Rally held in October at Juan Diego. 
Family Rosary was founded in 1942 by the late Servant of God Holy Cross Father Patrick Peyton. The Try Prayer! It Works! contest derives its name from Fr. Peyton’s experience as a seminarian when he was stricken with tuberculosis. 
“At one point, a frustrated physician said to him, ‘Try prayer! We have done all we can for you,’” said Susan Wallace, of Holy Cross Family Ministries. “Father Peyton prayed the Rosary to the Blessed Mother and he made a miraculous recovery, which he attributed entirely to Mary’s intercession.
This year’s contest theme “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief,” was based on the Fourth Joyful Mystery, The Presentation in the Temple, when Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple for the first time. 
 “We want to honor those kids who rise to the top; they are the future of our church,” said Wallace. “Lauren’s faith is deep and this is a great spiritual exercise. The award-winning entry she submitted was a poem about faith and accepting God’s will.”
Popp wanted to win, but when they called the third and then second place names, her hopes vanished, she said. “Then they called my name. It was so cool, and then I won the national contest for 10th grade,” she said. 
Popp’s inspiration came from her Catholic school education, she said. “I’ve also always gone to church with my family and have learned so much, but when I got to high school I started to get my questions answered,” she said. “While I was writing this poem I thought of all the things I believe in like, love, faith and hope, God is good and God lives.” 
Popp recalled her eighth-grade theology teacher telling her “when you are not believing in God, you are growing in your faith because you are questioning everything,” she said. 
“There have been times in my life when I have said, ‘I can’t believe God would let that happen, such as people having cancer or dying,’ but I always come back believing even stronger,” she said. “I’ve also learned more through our [Saint John the Baptist] parish youth group. It’s not that I was turning away from God, I just wasn’t understanding God. In this poem, I got to say what I truly believe in.” 
Popp is good hearted and all about serving people, said her step-mother, Louise Popp. “Her mother passed away when she was 2, and she has had some challenges, but she is always willing to do anything to make life better for people and willing to do what you ask of her,” said Louise Popp. “She is an altar server, on the tennis team, keeps up her grades, has a summer job at Guardian Angel Day Care, volunteered to help at art camp and she is vice president of the youth group. She just has a good spirit about her; she always wants to be happy, and she looks on the positive side of everything.”

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