St. Catherine junior wins ‘modern-day parable’ contest with reflection on putting others first

Bella Robinson, a 17-year-old junior at St. Catherine of Siena Academy in Wixom, won the fifth annual “Live it. Show it. Share it.” scholarship contest sponsored by Alliance Catholic Credit Union with her parable, “Parable of the Finalists,” which told of three pageant contestants and their willingness to credit others. (Courtesy photo)

Alliance Catholic Credit Union’s fifth annual ‘Live it. Show it. Share it.’ scholarship contest asked students to reflect on faith in modern terms

DETROIT  For the fifth year in a row, Alliance Catholic Credit Union awarded 10 Catholic students within the Archdiocese of Detroit scholarships as part of its annual “Live it. Show it. Share it.” scholarship contest. 

The students were asked to write and submit a “modern-day parable” that illustrated a universal truth or moral lesson. Of 114 qualifying entries, 10 students were selected to receive a minimum of $1,000. Three students were selected from the 10 to go onto receive an increased scholarship. 

The scholarship is part of the credit union’s mission of giving back to the community with services and charities inspired by Catholic values, said Keith Burke, vice president of marketing and community relations for Alliance. The contest invites a panel of Catholic leaders in Michigan to help select the winners. 

“We call it the ‘Live it. Show it. Share it.’ contest because we ask the students to complete an assignment that requires them to think about their faith and take some time to express it,” Burke told Detroit Catholic. “We think it is pretty ambitious. We think Catholic schools are the best schools, so Catholic school students are the best students, and we want to challenge them in a way that reflects that.”

In years past, scholarship winners have been honored at the annual Catholic Schools Week Mass at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, with Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron presenting the awards. Because of the pandemic, the Mass will not take place this year. However, Alliance representatives have been invited to Masses at individual schools where the winners are enrolled in order to formally recognize their accomplishments. 

On Wednesday, Alliance will present its grand prize award at St. Catherine of Siena Academy in Wixom to 17-year-old junior Bella Robinson, whose parable, titled, “Parable of the Finalists,” illustrated the principle of putting others first and treating every person with dignity and respect.

Robinson has participated in the “Live it. Show it. Share it.” contest before, and won second place in last year’s contest with a meme showing why she loved Catholic schools and how her Catholic education inspired her to live her faith. Entries are judged anonymously before the final round. 

In Robinson’s winning parable, three pageant finalists are asked to provide the name of the seamstress who made their gown. Being focused only on themselves, two contestants couldn’t do so, while the third proudly credits her seamstress. 

“I wanted to show throughout my parable that you shouldn’t focus on yourself; you should focus on those around you,” Robinson told Detroit Catholic. “I have always been the type of person who likes to talk to people. I asked a simple question in the parable because I wanted to show how communication goes a long way and how you can really connect with another person through getting to know them and communicating with them.”

Robinson’s parable (printed in its entirety below) comes from a place of deep understanding and experience. According to her mother, Wendy Robinson, Bella spent three years from ages 11 to 14 in a full body brace with severe scoliosis. Bella struggled as her peers looked at her differently or didn’t take the time to talk to her. 

“Seeing that happen changed how I viewed others because now I want to get to know everyone around me, and I want to know their story,” Bella said. “It doesn’t matter where a person comes from; it matters their character and what’s in their heart.”

Bella’s experience impacted her whole family, but the graceful way she handled the challenge taught them all valuable lessons, Wendy said. 

“It really shook her faith, I think, and she grew stronger in her relationship with God through that,” Wendy Robinson said. “She really learned a lot about how people treat you, and how they make you feel is the greatest gift we give to each other. It really is God’s lesson to us all: ‘Treat others how you want to be treated,’ and put others’ needs before your own. By doing that, it really does enrich your life.”

Third place winner Gianna Switalski, 15, of Regina High School in Warren (left) and second place winner Issak Brook, 13, of Holy Family Regional School in Rochester, are pictured. (Courtesy photos)

In a statement, Archbishop Vigneron congratulated Bella along with Issak Brook (Holy Family Regional School, Rochester) and Gianna Switalski (Regina High School, Warren), who earned second and third prizes, respectively. 

“Congratulations to our scholarship winners, Isabella, Isaak, and Gianna,” the archbishop said. “Along with all our students, we accompany them with our prayers, knowing that our Lord is continuing his work in this generation of forming disciples.”

Alliance Catholic Credit Union's ‘Live It. Show It. Share It.’ scholarship contest winners

Grand prize winner  $6,000

  • Isabella Robinson, St. Catherine of Sienna Academy, Wixom

Second-place winner  $4,500

  • Issak Brook, Holy Family Regional School, Rochester

Third place winner  $2,500

  • Gianna Switalski, Regina High School, Warren

Finalists  $1,000 each

  • Joshua Bisdorf, Detroit Catholic Central High School, Novi
  • Joseph Coleman, Cabrini High School, Allen Park
  • Ava DeVeny, Holy Cross Catholic School, Marine City
  • Luke Wallag Kiley, St. Mary’s Preparatory, Orchard Lake
  • Kathryn (Katie) Kurtinaitis, Divine Child Elementary School, Dearborn
  • Faith Sterling, Holy Redeemer Grade School, Detroit
  • Tess Tillman, Shrine Catholic Academy, Royal Oak

Bella Robinson’s winning parable: ‘Parable of the Finalists’

Three beautiful, intelligent, and talented women were competing as finalists in a local scholarship pageant. The contest recognizes young women who demonstrate virtues of future leaders. In preparation for the final challenge, each finalist met with a seamstress for her final fitting before the big night. The next evening the finalists graced the stage in their gowns. Each contestant was asked the same question and given 8 seconds to respond, demonstrating why she was most deserving of the crown. The question was simple, “What is the name of the seamstress who fitted your gown?” The first two contestants could not answer, having failed to ask her name because they were focused on themselves. The final contestant answered confidently, “Char, actually Charlene, but friends call her Char.” People matter to God. Treat them with dignity and respect. Humble yourself by putting others first and you will be lifted up.