St. Boniface School sixth-grader wins CCHD art contest

Aislyn Marten, a sixth-grader at St. Boniface School in Cold Spring, created a mosaic tile artwork and was named the Diocese of St. Cloud’s winner of the ‘Creating on the Margins’ art contest sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

Her piece, reminiscent of stained-glass windows, is titled “Building Up the Community.”

“Aislyn’s piece stood out for the time and effort that went into the artwork, the connection to our Catholic faith through the use of stained glass, a common artform in our parishes, and because of the selection of calming, peaceful colors,” said Kateri Mancini, director of social concerns for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud and diocesan director of CCHD, the domestic anti-poverty program of the  U.S. Catholic Church.

“Our communities are in such great need of healing right now, and her artwork reminded us to breathe in and find peace, a reminder that matched this year’s theme of ‘Builders of Peace in Our Communities’ so well!” she added.

Shaina Rosa, intern with social concerns/CCHD, promoted the contest this past winter by speaking to Catholic middle-school classes about poverty.

“My focus on young ages was to get them to think about the topic younger and to start recognizing things that are happening right in their own community,” Shaina said. “Children are our future, and they can make a huge difference in the world if we give them the resources to learn about it. My hope is that with this information kids will dig more deeply into how they can help others and recognize the stereotypes made against people in poverty.”

“Shaina asked our class what we knew about poverty,” Aislyn said. “To answer, we stood or sat if we believed something was true or not. I learned that a lot of people are poor.”

The design — showing the building up of the community through peace and love for people in need, especially for those living in poverty — just came to her, Aislyn said. She used her favorite colors but chose a media she’d never worked with before. She researched online how to create it, not expecting to win.

Brandi Marten, Aislyn’s mother, said, “Aislyn really likes to do crafts. After she knew what she wanted, we bought supplies and she did it all herself. The piece makes me think of spring and Easter and new growth.”

Aislyn Marten, front, was joined by her parents, Brandi and Kevin, along with her younger sister at the award celebration March 31. (photo submitted)

“The artwork gave me a peaceful feeling,” Shaina said. “It reminds me of the Church where there is so much going on to build that peace with others.”

On March 31, Kateri and Shaina presented Aislyn with a certificate naming her as winner, a gift certificate to a local business and a journal with a quote from Micah 6:8, “Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly,” on its cover.

“Since the contest theme is ‘Builders of Peace in Our Communities,’” Kateri said, “we also acknowledge her community setting, and so her class will also get a ‘celebrate peace’ treat.”

Kateri said the art contest engages young people to learn about the root causes of poverty in the U.S. and faith-inspired efforts to address the issues, especially through CCHD’s work.

When Aislyn told her family about Shaina’s information and the contest, her mom checked local statistics regarding poverty. “I was surprised — it was a higher percent than I would have guessed, even around the Cold Spring area,” Brandi said.

Shaina noted that a number of students’ contest projects involved helping others, food drives for those in need and giving food to those on the side of street.

“Some students shared that the state’s poverty numbers shocked them,” Shaina said. “Others used CCHD’s PovertyUSA website ( to compare poverty among races or in different parts of the country. My hope was to get kids thinking about how their community can build peace. I think it even went a step further since the children were looking up beyond their community to see how each state is affected.”


Creating a sustainable peace

Source: Catholic Campaign for Human Development

  • Peace is not achieved simply by an absence of violence, but rather in the presence of justice.
  • Building peace requires creating strong communities where people have resources to thrive and develop.
  • Addressing poverty is an important way to promote peace, not from the top-down but by supporting the efforts of low-income people to address the issues that impact their communities, such as eliminating food deserts, increasing the availability of job training and promoting workers’ rights, a just wage and restorative justice.
  • Anyone can work to build peace right where they are, by working together with those around them. When we work for justice in our communities, all have a greater chance to thrive and have access to what they need for safe and healthy lives.

Author: Nikki Rajala

Nikki Rajala is a writer/copy editor for The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine.

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