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Respect Life Essay Contest: Assisted suicide devalues life

new 12 Respect Life PAGEFirst prize winners display their certificates Feb. 12 at St. Mary’s Cathedral during the awards ceremony for the archdiocese’s 28th annual Respect Life Essay Contest. This year’s contest focused on end-of-life issues, including the importance of the sacrament of the sick and the Catholic response to physician-assisted suicide. (Photo by Valerie Schmalz/Catholic San Francisco)

February 23, 2017
Vicki Evans

Elderly people are a gift from God and they teach us a lot. We should bring love and joy to people in pain to make them happier. The sacrament of the sick is what the old and sick need to help them at the end of their life. Suffering is easier to deal with when it’s offered up to Jesus. So said our archdiocesan students in the 28th annual Respect Life Essay Contest dealing with end-of-life issues.

Contrast that with what the purveyors of assisted suicide offer the sick and suffering: The terminally ill are a burden to their loved ones and owe it to society to end their lives. Suffering must be avoided at all cost, even if it means committing suicide. Life is not worth living once you’ve lost your independence.

To comprehend how countercultural our students are and how much wisdom they brought to their essays, consider these excerpts from our 2017 grand prize winners.

Second grader Olivia Philip from Our Lady of Angels School, spoke to her grandfather in her essay: “I want to tell you what I learned when I saw you were sick and went to heaven. I learned that it is important to be patient. I saw how you were getting so sick every day. You never complained and you were patient with God and his plan for you.”

Baylie Ruiz, a fourth grader at Holy Angels, wrote that we must “Remember that we are the hands, feet and voice of Jesus. It is important to bring blessings to our elders because some are lonely or in pain. I pray Jesus will bring blessings to the elders who are in pain and lonely by believing God is with them.”

St. Patrick sixth grader Meredith Foster titled her essay “The Final Sacrament”: “Foremost, it is important to receive the sacrament of the anointing of the sick because God bestows grace upon all its recipients. The grace of God provides strength, courage and the desire to act according to God’s will. It inspires them to trust God. It prepares them for the promised land of heaven. God’s grace helps dying individuals better understand Jesus’ pain and the sacrifices he made to save us.”

Redemptive suffering was the topic of Suzanne Comparan’s essay. The eighth grader at Mission Dolores Academy ended her essay with these words, “Going to Mass reminded me of what my purpose on earth was; to bring happiness to others and live my life thanking. Thanking and appreciating the small things that could be gone in a split second.”

Taylor Ellis tackled the debate on California’s new assisted suicide law head-on. The 11th grader from St. Anthony of Padua’s faith formation class raised these points: “When California legalized physician assisted suicide, they sent out a message that negatively affects our whole society. The message is that our elderly, disabled and sick people in our communities are burdens to us and do not deserve to be given the most effective health care that could be provided to them ... All human life must be valued not only when it is convenient and rewarding, but also when there are times of suffering and death ... Physician-assisted suicide distorts the patient/doctor relationship because when laws like this come into the picture, then the patient’s best interest isn’t the doctor’s first priority anymore.”

Auxiliary Bishop William J. Justice presented awards to 96 student winners and honorable mention recipients at an awards liturgy and reception Feb. 12 at St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Evans is Respect Life Coordinator for the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Essay contest winners and honorable mention recipients

Honorable Mention: Lucas Sichel, Star of the Sea Preschool; Jack Parr, St. Philip Preschool.

Grades one and two
Grand Prize: Olivia Philip, Our Lady of Angels; First Prize, San Francisco, Kavika Hall, Our Lady of the Visitacion; San Mateo, Ysabella Garcia, Holy Angels; Marin, Madaleine Wagner, St. Anselm; Honorable Mention: Glory Galimba, Our Lady of the Visitacion; William Hamilton, Brendan Lau, St. Thomas the Apostle; Lucina Gonzalez, All Souls Religious Education; Madonna Becerra, Our Lady of Perpetual Help; Sabella Stout, St. Robert; Amelia Martin, St. Matthew; Gabrielle Alojado, St. Mark Religious Education, Clara Brunello, Our Lady of Angels, Delilah Sampior, St. Veronica; Ellie Malouf, St. Gregory; Walter Ferris, St. Anselm; Joey Giraud, Sydney Ryssemus, St. Isabella.

Grades three and four
Grand Prize: Baylie Ruiz, Holy Angels; First Prize, San Francisco, Aysia Braganza, Our Lady of the Visitacion; San Mateo, Alan Alcantara, All Souls; Marin, Laurel Piombo, St. Anselm; Honorable Mention: Dorothy Ho, St. Thomas the Apostle; Joshua Jue, Eamonn Scott, St. Monica; Fiona Guiney, Aidan Buret, St. Gregory; Katie Kubota, Nativity; Miki Maloney, Good Shepherd; Aldrin Guzman, Nathan Vargas, Our Lady of Perpetual Help; Tara Buckley, Jaden Navarro, St. Robert; Cole Padilla, St. Veronica; Sean Coffin, St. Catherine of Siena; Noah Chin, All Souls; Sienna Frazier, St. Isabella; Jack Mueller, St. Patrick.

Grades five and six
Grand Prize: Meredith Foster, St. Patrick; First Prize San Francisco, Furtuna Yemane, Mission Dolores Academy; San Mateo, David Robertson, St. Gregory; Marin, Francisco Pereira, St. Anselm; Honorable Mention: Nataly Cruz, Lezaiah Porchia-Gray, Our Lady of the Visitacion; Ashley Quan, Holy Name; Ella Burgos, Mission Dolores Academy; Won Kim, St. Monica; Danielle Pinedo, School of the Epiphany; Mariano Gonzalez, Mario Gonzalez, Gonzalez Homeschool; Dermott Philpott, St. Robert; Maiya Derynck, St. Catherine of Siena; David Silvestre, Good Shepherd; Cassandra Tostado, All Souls; Nicholas Alas, St. Dunstan; Mary Katherine Daniher, St. Pius; Christina Naser, Mason Bruce, St. Isabella; Kelly Scott, St. Patrick.

Grades seven and eight
Grand Prize: Suzanne Comparan, Mission Dolores Academy; First Prize San Francisco, Yamil Leon, St. James; San Mateo, Jayden Ramos, Holy Angels; Marin, Michael Hellmold, St. Isabella; Honorable Mention: Casey Saplan, St. Thomas the Apostle; Janine Navalta, Mission Dolores Academy; Antonio Roca, St. Thomas More; Raenalyn Cruz-Balleza, School of the Epiphany; Maya Santos, Good Shepherd; Matthew Lau, St. Thomas the Apostle; Amaya Keiper, St. Veronica; Julienne Cancio, Our Lady of Perpetual Help; Reidin Kimber O’Shea, St. Catherine of Siena; Bailey O’Mahony, Dominic Jay, St. Robert; Caroline Callagy, St. Gregory; Jeffrey Aldon, All Souls; Lair Champion, St. Sebastian Parish School of Religion; Greg Schiff, St. Isabella, Carter Kwait, St. Anselm.

High school
Grand Prize: Taylor Ellis, St. Anthony of Padua Faith Formation; First Prize San Francisco, Amy La, Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory; San Mateo, Marcelino Gonzalez, Gonzalez Homeschool; Marin, Sam Newsome, Marin Catholic High School; Honorable Mention; Victoria Wong, Star of the Sea Parish School of Religion; Kalyb Champion, St. Sebastian Parish School of Religion.

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