Kellenberg Memorial High School students Douglas Kraeger and Ginger Jacobsen...

Kellenberg Memorial High School students Douglas Kraeger and Ginger Jacobsen made a YouTube video promoting the value of the sacrament of Confession as Catholics enter Holy Week. (April 12, 2011) Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

The YouTube video opens with a shot of a Catholic high school student in his blazer and backpack, walking down the hall as he breaks into a rap song about all his sins. He's cheated on tests and on his girlfriend, mouthed off to his mother and tried to skip Mass.

But by the end of the one-minute "Backpack of Sin" production, the actor, Douglas Kraeger, a 16-year-old junior at Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, is going to confession, surrendering the backpack to a priest and urging people to confess their sins, too.

It's all part of a contest the Catholic Church on Long Island and in New York City is running to try to get the faithful to participate more often in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The student who produces the most popular video will get a $25,000 scholarship, and his or her school will receive an additional $25,000. Second place is worth $10,000 and several third-place awards will be given at $1,000 each. The deadline is Monday.

The contest was announced two weeks ago by the dioceses of Rockville Centre and Brooklyn, along with the Archdiocese of New York, and submissions are flooding in. Church officials said they have received more than 100 entries from as far as California and Texas, though the majority are from New Yorkers.

"I'm convinced it's going to have an impact," said Msgr. Kieran Harrington, a spokesman for the Diocese of Brooklyn. While the videos involve young people preaching to their peers, teenagers are also "evangelizing older people. It's really quite beautiful."

The contest is aimed at promoting Reconciliation Monday, which is Monday during Holy Week -- when some 727 parishes on Long Island and in and around New York City will make priests available for confession from 3 to 9 p.m., said Sean Dolan, a spokesman for the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

Reconciliation Monday was created in Rockville Centre by Bishop William Murphy several years ago, and has now spread to Brooklyn and the Archdiocese of New York, Dolan said.

The three entities decided to work together to promote the activity and came up with the video contest, partly as a way to use the same social media many young people use. "We need to be in their iPad or iPhone," Dolan said.

The entries -- available on -- so far run the gamut from one called "Darth Vader Goes to Confession!" to another featuring a priest in a Yankees jacket. A third, "From Tragedy to Resurrection," spotlights a girl who, after watching her father die from cancer, was run over by a truck a few months later but survived.

Kraeger and his producer, Ginger Jacobsen, 18, a senior at Kellenberg, said they did not want to make a "cliched" video, and that they themselves value going to confession. "If even one more person goes to confession" because of the video, "our job is done," Kraeger said.

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