The winners of the annual essay contest of the Serra Club of Tucson were honored at a luncheon attended by Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas and others last month at a Tucson restaurant.
The awards included a $100 savings bond for first place in two of the categories, and a $200 bond for the high school winner. The top three winners in each category received a monetary prize.
Audrianna Herran, a seventh-grader at Sts. Peter and Paul School, won first prize in grades 7-8, which led a sweep for that school in the category. Classmate Yasmeen Shrestha was second, eighth-grader Juliana Grenier took third place and Alyssa Benefield, a seventh-grader, was fourth.
Sixth-grader Iliana Robles of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School won the first prize in grades 4-6. Classmate Hannah Van Loan was second and Isabelle Young Mada of Sts. Peter and Paul School was third, while fifth-grader Jason Villanueva of St. John the Evangelist School was fourth.
High school category winner was Mathew Granado, 10th grader at St. Augustine Catholic High School. Henry Ishimwe, 11th grader at San Miguel High School, was second, followed by Yasmeen Alsaidi, 10th grader at St. Augustine, and Briana Buelna, 10th grader at San Miguel.
Here are the top-winning essays:
When I speak with Jesus, what does he say to me?
By ILIANA ROBLES (grades 4-5-6)
Do you believe that Jesus talks to you? I do, I think he talks to me the most when I am sleeping, through my dreams, in every way you could imagine. So, can you believe this? I had the best dream of my life last night!
Jesus was in it and we spoke for a very long time. He told me, “That you are a good Catholic but you need to work on it a little.” He said that I needed improvement in my actions toward my brothers, not talking back to my parents, and following all the Ten Commandments.
He told me that he would help me reach these expectations by praying. That if I struggle it’s because we are all human and sometimes need help, to pray to Him for guidance.
We also spoke of my achievements in being a Catholic. I was baptized to become a Disciple of the Lord, celebrated First Communion to receive guidance from our Lord and to go to Mass to hear the Word of the Lord. He told me, “You are always trying to help people if they are in need. This is a great quality to have, because it shows that you care.”
Every time that I have a dream about Jesus I open my heart, to hear what he has to say to me.
How and when do I know that Jesus is with me?
By AUDRIANNA HERRAN (grades 7-8)
How do I know that Jesus is with me? That’s a tough question. I guess it boils down to faith. Faith is not something you can see or touch. It is something in the heart. Although as Catholics we are taught to think and do as Jesus would, sometimes this can be hard.
Although this is a hard question for many, it is quite simple for me. You see I was born with what’s called a congenital short femur. It is a rare birth defect. It’s when one femur doesn’t grow as fast as the other. I’ve had about 17 surgeries because of this.
Every time I went into surgery I know Jesus would be right by my side. I’ve been in and out of wheelchairs, had countless amounts of walkers, and was told I shouldn’t be able to walk. All of this since the age of four.
Many people would lose faith or become bitter going through what I’ve gone through. But it’s my faith that keeps me going. I know that Jesus will be right there to guide me through whatever the future may hold. Through our religion we are taught to do our best to walk in Jesus’ footsteps, and to think “what would Jesus do” before we act. Because of this I keep a positive outlook on life and put others before myself.
Many people have said I’m their hero or inspiration. It is faith and knowing that Jesus is by my side that gives me strength. So for me the question of “how and when Jesus is with me” is not a question but a fact. It is something I question but something I know.
Where am I going in my life and how do I know that Jesus is going with me?
By MATHEW GRANADO (grades 9-12)
At first when I think about where I’m going in life I get scared. I know what I want to do in life but it is just a dream. All my teachers have shut me down because I don’t care about school. I am just concerned about sports and my dream is to become a professional baseball player.
How do I know God will be with me? I really don’t know that God will follow me in the future but all I can do is hope. When I think about God being with me I get this weird feeling because I am not that strong with my faith. Hopefully my dream will allow me to see God in a deeper way.
Even though I may not like doing my schoolwork, the teachers are there to push me in order to achieve a greater level of education and be able to have plenty of options for after I leave high school. God has placed them there for a reason.
If I want God to follow me in the future I have to begin dedicating my life to him through prayer and service. By being close to God many good things will happen and I will begin to feel more complete as a person. My goal in life will become clearer, and I will know what I will want. I will continue to pray and permit God to use me as his instrument.