HERMON — A teenager’s inspirational story about how his grandmother’s quiet faith witness influenced his own spiritual life earned him a first-place finish in a national writing contest.

David Robichaud of Hermon (pictured below), a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Bangor, won the 2023 Father Charles Irvin Memorial Essay Contest, offered by FAITH Catholic, a custom publishing company based in Lansing, Michigan, that works with dioceses across the United States, including the Diocese of Portland.

(Courtesy of Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland)

The topic of the essay content was “the person in whom you most see the face of Christ,” and for David, that was his grandmother, whom he described as “the most patient and happy person I ever met.”

He wrote in the essay: “My grandma has lived with me ever since I was born. Comfortable in her room, she always showed me that all you needed to be happy was family, faith, and a few good TV channels. No matter the time of day, her TV was always set on one of [three] channels: Food Network, Hallmark, or EWTN. As cliché as it sounds, words can’t describe how kind of a woman she was. She never spoke ill of anyone, nor did she ever snap at us the way we got frustrated with her. She was perfect: the one who truly showed the face of Jesus.”

His grandmother passed away on Thanksgiving in 2020, a day David describes in the essay as one not just full of sorrow but also of gratitude. He wrote that he could only feel peace on that day.

“I am not saying I am thankful for her passing, but there is still so much to be thankful for. She showed me to be thankful for a simple life, filled with family. She showed me to be thankful for having faith. She showed me to be thankful for everything, even the outcomes that don’t go our way. She could not have shown this to me if she didn’t act with faith,” he wrote.

David earned a $1,500 college scholarship for his winning essay. It was presented to him by Msgr. Andrew Dubois, pastor of St. Paul the Apostle.

“I was so surprised when I heard that I won this scholarship, yet I am so blessed that I was able to honor my grandmother by sharing the beautiful life that she lived,” he said.

David will attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massasschusetts at the end of the summer. He said that he is confident that his faith life with remain strong while he is there due to a strong foundation, which came not only from his family but from attending All Saints Catholic School in Bangor and from being active in youth ministry and as an altar server at St. Paul the Apostle Parish.

“When you have faith, you just have so much more peace in life,” he said.

David said he has already connected with the MIT Catholic group on campus. To read more about David or to read his winning essay, click here.