MILWAUKIE — Five young people who attend Christ the King Church in Milwaukie have been recognized in the state Knights of Columbus essay contest. One student, Jack Burnside, is the International Winner.

Burnside, 18, a senior at Clackamas High School from Happy Valley, was joined by state winners Meiruh Tengsico, 18, a senior at La Salle College Prep; Isabelle Reksopuro and Avery Lucchi, both 17-year-old juniors at Nelson High School; and Mercedes Rodriguez, a freshman at La Salle College Prep.

“Your essay was chosen from hundreds of entries and described everyday obstacles you may have experienced or witnessed others experiencing while living a life of authentic faith,” Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly wrote in letter to Burnside.

Burnside’s essay is entitled, “Trust in Thine Lord.”

It details his journey as he watched his grandmother battle and overcome a serious health issue.

Burnside noted that he is very close to his grandmother, a former elementary school teacher who was one of his childhood caregivers. She fostered a sense of “wonder in God’s world” in him.

He described how her illness caused her to lose weight and lose her spark for life.

“While seeing Mimi that dramatically ill was brutal, the worst part was how she lost her spark and transformed into someone I didn’t recognize, a literal shell of the loving grandmother I’d known for 16 years,” he wrote.

Over time, Burnside said he was able to “reconcile” the reality of the moment with his memories of a “loving, cheerful Mimi.”

Burnside said the powers of faith gained from his confirmation classes at Christ the King, plus his involvement in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, helped him “more deeply connect with my Catholic faith during the entire week and not just on Sundays.”

During his Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings, Scriptures were read and one especially resonated with him — Proverbs 11:27.

“Anyone can find the dirt in someone. Be the one who finds gold.”

“At that moment, I realized I needed to stop concentrating on Mimi’s negative changes because my attitude had a self-centered root,” Burnside said.

He found new empathy for his grandmother’s condition and became her cheerleader when she mastered tasks such as taking 15 steps to the dinner table.

“I also realized that God has a plan and my reliance on him allowed me to move forward despite this confusing situation,” he wrote.

Burnside said he has grown more compassionate because of this experience.

“Although this situation is an obstacle I never want to face again, I believe God is by my side in all things and will continue to support me through life’s future challenges,” he said.

Burnside is the son of John and Kari Burnside and has a younger brother, Adam, 15.

He has participated in lacrosse and football at Clackamas High and is a member of the National Honor Society.

He and the other state winners will receive scholarship funds.

Lester Tengsico, Grand Knight of the Knights’ Council 9257 at Christ the King, said the students’ success “carries the flag of Christ the King Parish. We are very proud of their accomplishments and what their Catholic faith means to them.”

Burnside will receive $300 from the Supreme Council, plus $50 from the Oregon Council, as will his fellow state winners.

Paul is the Grand Knight of Council 8624 in Sweet Home and the State Knights’ publicity chairman.