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Archives ‘This is the time I felt Jesus was with me’
Trinity students’ essays receive accolades

June 19, 2024

By Keith Benman
Contributing Writer

Aubrie Cameron made welcome-home signs, even one out of balloons. She set up Jenga blocks so she and her sister Sadie could play their favorite game. She got a movie ready to go in their bedroom and brought out some books she had bought.

It’s what you do when your older sister comes home from more than a week in the hospital, including spinal surgery that took 18 hours to complete. Aubrie remembers the joy of that day in May two years ago. It was a joyful day also for her parents, Karen and Charles, and brothers, Chase and Easton.

It was not so joyful for everyone before the surgery.

“Everyone in my family was very nervous,” Aubrie would write down a year later in recounting that time. “We knew that it might not work to fix the problem. … I was trying to be positive, but I could not help but think something could happen. If something bad did happen, then I would really be alone, because she shares a room with me and I would be sleeping by myself, and would lose my best friend.”

Aubrie also wrote she felt sad and alone. But she felt something else as well. “This was the time I felt Jesus was with me,” she wrote. She began to pray. She asked Jesus to protect Sadie and herself. His answer came in a little voice, telling her everything would be alright.

Aubrie wrote all that after her teacher at Trinity Catholic, Michelle Bombard, gave her fifth- and sixth-grade students an assignment. It was to write an essay on a time when they felt close to God. The best essay in each class was submitted to the Christ is Alive! national essay contest put on by Comcenter, a publisher of Catholic educational materials.

In May, national winners were announced. For sixth grade, it was Aubrie’s essay on how she felt Jesus’ presence as her sister underwent surgery.

“It was a beautiful essay,” Sadie said on a recent afternoon in the library of Trinity School. “It moved my heart.”

That brought a big smile from Aubrie. Smiles and laughter are frequent between the two girls, who describe each other as best friends – and friends with each other’s friends.

“All my friends love to hang out with her,” Aubrie said. “They always will give her a hug when they see her.”

Sadie uses a wheelchair to get about. She was born with spina bifida, a spinal abnormality that can impact everything from motor skills to cognition to organ function. In Sadie’s case, it also affected her speech. She was non-verbal when she started school. Now, she speaks fluently, but with a speech impediment. Her family members understand her and can translate for anyone not used to it. Sadie is an eighth-grade honors student at Massena’s J.W. Leary Middle School.

Her surgery was undertaken two years ago because Sadie’s spine had bent so much she couldn’t sit up straight. It was affecting her breathing. It took time to see the full results of Sadie’s surgery, but ultimately it was successful.

But Aubrie’s winning essay didn’t mention that. Instead, it simply ended with a sentence about Sadie’s own generosity and Aubrie’s own acceptance: “My sister came home the next day, with a present because it was my birthday, and I loved the present, and I love her just the way she is.”

That’s what impressed other teachers who read Aubrie’s essay, said teacher Bombard.

“They were so impressed Aubrie was OK with putting this in the hands of God, as young as she was, and afraid as she was,” Bombard said. “She felt her prayer would be answered no matter the outcome.”

There were a dozen essay winners named in the “Christ is Alive!” essay contest for grades third through eighth. Those winners spanned the nation from the East Coast to Hawaii. Winners and their teachers each received a $100 prize. The class also gets $100 for a celebration. And $200 was awarded to each winner’s school/parish. Winning essays can be found at this web address: https://www.comcenter.com/

In addition to Aubrie’s essay, an entry by Trinity fifth grader Nevada King-Borsellino was submitted. That essay drew praise from contest judges. She wrote about feeling the presence of Jesus through a special person, her grandmother, Ann Borsellino.

After seeing both girls’ essays on the Trinity Catholic School Facebook page, an anonymous community member felt both should’ve received prizes and donated $50 to honor King-Borsellino, as well.


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