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The Office of Catholic Schools holds an annual competition open to all Catholic school students. The competition had four categories (Level 1 for grades K-2, Level 2 for grades 3-5, Level 3 for grades 6-8 and Level 4 for 9-11), and a panel of judges selected the top entry from each category to determine the 2024 People’s Choice Winners. This year’s theme was, “The more Eucharist we receive, the more we will become like Jesus, so that on earth we will have a foretaste of heaven,” which was a statement made by Blessed Carlo Acutis. Below is the story from the Level 2 winner, Arianny Lansang of Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, Riverside.

Written and illustrated by Arianny Lansang

On a sunny day it was about 9:00 in the morning. Anna was walking with her friend, Cassidy to PE.
“Did you hear that we have to write an essay tomorrow?” Cassidy whispered.
“Well, we are in 7th grade,” Anna said with a smile.
At PE, the teacher began by saying, “Today is dodgeball. The side you are on is your team.”
“Which side are you going to Anna?” Cassidy asked.
“I’m going to the right side,” Anna replied.
“That’s too bad, we could’ve been teammates,” Cassidy said.

After dodgeball, Anna needed to wash her face. As she walked into the restroom, she heard Cassidy’s voice and another voice she didn’t recognize.
“You know Anna was showing off when we were playing dodgeball,” Cassidy said.
“I know! She’s such a showoff. I think the teacher’s pet cheats, so she gets A pluses,” the other voice said.
“Anna is so annoying. All she talks about is books and sports. Who reads these days?” Cassidy said.
Anna was hurt by this and wished she was never there. As Cassidy was walking with Anna after PE, Anna felt very disturbed.
“Cassidy, I can’t believe you gossiped about me!” Anna yelled.
“You little eavesdropper!!” Cassidy yelled back.
“Also, I don’t cheat! I study a lot! And I was NOT showing off!! So much for being friends,” Anna exclaimed.
“UGH WHATEVER! We will NEVER BE FRIENDS AGAIN!!” Cassidy yelled.
After school, Anna felt horrible. I lost my only friend, Anna thought.
“Bye Anna,” her dad said. “I’m going to confession.” The word confession caused Anna to jump!
“Take me too please!” Anna begged.
“Okay,” her dad replied.
When Anna walked into the confessional, she started to cry. Anna confessed all her sins. After absolution the priest had something else to say. “Anna,” he said. “If somebody gossips about you, forgive them even if they don’t say sorry. Afterwards, be joyful. You forgave them!
Pray for them with your heart, so that they will accept God’s call. I invite you to go to the 4:00 p.m. Mass. The more Eucharist we receive, the more we will become like Jesus, so that on earth we will have a foretaste of Heaven.”

“Wait, how’d you know my name and that somebody gossiped about me?” Anna asked.
Father replied, “Jesus loves you.” Anna wondered, was I talking to God? After Mass, she felt peace to forgive Cassidy.
At lunch the following day, Anna quickly walked to Cassidy. “Hey Cassidy!” Anna exclaimed.
“Anna, I have something to tell you. When we fought, well, it didn’t feel so good. I’m sorry. I wasn’t a very good friend. Will you forgive me?” Cassidy asked.
“Yes Cassidy, of course I forgive you! You’re my friend! Also, please forgive me for yelling at you,” Anna said.
“I forgive you,” Cassidy replied.
“Want to be friends again?” Anna asked.

“Yes!” Cassidy nodded. Afterwards, the two girls joyfully walked together to class. A foretaste of Heaven is having peace, kindness, and God’s love.