This Easter, the Church welcomes the newly baptised into the family. Some of them share their conversion stories with CatholicNews (by Darren Boon)
‘I’ve learnt to be more forgiving and understanding’
THE SEED OF Christianity in Louis Ong, 18, was sown through listening to the daily Gospel readings read out during morning assembly at Montfort Secondary School.
Initially, the non-Christian made fun of the readings, but in retrospect this meant “I actually listened to the words”, he said.
His interest in Catholicism grew and after a classmate introduced him to the RCIY programme at the parish of Christ The King, he decided to attend the sessions to discover more about the Catholic faith.
“After a few weeks, I realised that I really enjoy the sessions and learning more about who Jesus Christ is,” Louis said. “I found myself sharing with my Catholic friends about what I have learnt from the sessions.”
Of all the sessions, it was Christ’s Sermon on the Mount – the Beatitudes – that was deeply etched in him. These have guided him in his Christian life, challenging him to go beyond just attending Sunday Mass and fulfilling obligations.
“Whenever I have to make a decision, the Beatitudes will somehow come to my mind and make me consider what Jesus would do before I decide on what I would do,” he added.
As such, Louis thinks that he has learnt to be more forgiving of others just as Jesus forgave those who persecuted Him. Now, he tries not to find fault with his younger siblings when they annoy him, and to remain passive by not pursuing the matter or “be anal about everything” in arguments with friends.
“I feel that forgiving those who sin against you is like doing God’s will,” he said.
Louis’ parents have no objection to his baptism, and have observed that he has been arguing with them less frequently over misunderstandings and trivial issues.
“Christianity taught me to understand [rather] than trying to be understood all the time. Now, I will put myself in my parents’ shoes before arguing with them,” he said.
RCIY facilitator Elaine Teng said that Louis used to be “quiet and hardly talked to anyone”, but has gradually opened up to the other Elect.
“He would volunteer to do the opening and closing prayers for our weekly sessions... and has passion and enthusiasm ... to give testimonies about how God touches him, inspiring the other Elect and sponsors because of his strong faith in the Lord,” Elaine added.
‘I’ve learnt to be more accepting of people’
WHEN WEI JING’S parents nagged her, she used to snap at them, tell them that she knew what she was doing, and then stomp off to her room. Now, she waits for them to finish what they have to say, and will then change the subject.
“My parents are old fashioned. They have a certain mindset. I’ve learnt to be patient with them,” Wei Jing, 26, said.
In the past, she used to be “temperamental, judgemental and emotional”.
“After knowing God, Christ, and the teachings, I realised I have learnt to control and cope with my mood and emotions... [and] that I become more forgiving, have fewer expectations and higher acceptance levels of people,” she said.
Mass was “invigorating” with its “beautiful prayers and hymns”, and Wei Jing “felt the presence of Jesus at the altar” and was slowly drawn to Catholicism.
She added that she felt connected to the Church because Catholicism “is based on sacred Scripture and Tradition and is rich in history”.
Her staunchly Taoist parents were displeased with the idea of her being Christian. They were unhappy with her relationship with her Catholic boyfriend, and more so after she began going to church. Her initial attempts to convince them were futile.
After the Rite of Election, Wei Jing knew that she had to discuss her impending baptism with her mother, who preferred that she wait a while before getting baptised. The second time she broached the subject, her mother approved of it and agreed to intercede with her husband on Wei Jing’s behalf.
“I am looking forward to practise Catholicism and live my life for Jesus in all that I do... [and] to also share and evangelise others who are keen to know about the Catholic faith,” she said.
Faith like a butterfly
By Sean Lim
I WAS BROUGHT up in a traditional Taoist family where mention of Christianity or the Bible is taboo.
However, God had already sown the gift of faith in me, and I was secretly seeking the faith at other Christian churches through the invitations of colleagues and friends. But I attended church only when I felt like it.
Once, I dreamt of how awesome and reassuring Heaven is, but the dream ended with a gruesome scene of the crucified Lord. I woke up terrified, wondering why God chose to reveal Himself to me in this way. I continued to attend church as and when I wanted to feel God’s presence, but I felt something empty deep in my heart.
One day, I was suddenly retrenched, and I was devastated as I was one of my family’s breadwinners.
A Catholic friend invited me to spend some quiet time at Our Lady’s shrine asking for her intercession. My prayer was answered and I found a new and better job in a short time.
My faith grew stronger. I started to pray more regularly and attended Sunday Mass. My friend helped clarify many misconceptions I had of the Catholic faith.
I felt enlightened as my days spent with the other Christian churches were constantly filled with criticism of Catholicism and the need to pay more tithes.
I was convinced of Catholic teachings and accepted my friend’s invitation to enrol in the RCIA programme at the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary a year later. Along the journey, God sent many good Catholics to give me their support and guidance.
The nine-month RCIA has been an amazing journey seeking faith in God. My faith has strengthened and my understanding of God has deepened. Like a caterpillar metamorphosing from the cocoon, my faith is renewed and stronger. I have become a more determined person able to face challenges in life.
Incredibly, my family has also given me their blessings to be baptised a Catholic, and they are actually excited to witness my baptism!
My heart is filled with immense gratitude and I cannot thank God enough for all He has done for me.
God took my son, but gave me faith
By Felice Suhalim
MY SON WAS diagnosed with brain cancer when he was about two years old. His health took a turn for the worse and I was so worried.
In the children’s intensive care unit at KK Women and Children’s Hospital, I met a lady who suggested I attend services at Novena Church who told me that God will answer everybody’s prayer regardless of race or religion. I was not a Catholic then.
True enough, after I had attended the Novena service, I could see some improvements in my son’s health. I joined RCIA class at St. Anne’s Church in 2006. Halfway through, the doctor gave us the bad news that my son’s cancer had returned. I persuaded my Buddhist husband to have our son baptised. Three months later, our son passed away.
I told God that it was not fair. I trusted Him but my son did not recover. I started to question Him and I stopped praying and going to church. I felt so alone and disappointed.
During this period, I couldn’t pray. I grieved over the loss deeply and was unable to cope with anything.
One day, after praying the Rosary, I cried and begged God to allow me to see my son again. That night, I dreamt of him laughing so joyously and he revealed to me that I did not need to worry as he was in good hands. There was a man looking after him, a man who was pure and kind-hearted.
When I woke up, I finally found some closure and peace in my heart. The Holy Spirit had comforted me and assured me that I would see my son again.
Indeed, God is good and forgiving. Even though I was angry with Him, He always listens to me when I need to talk to Him. He looks out for me and knows what is best for me.
God loves me and He has saved me. As my faith grew stronger, I decided to continue my RCIA journey at Nativity Church in 2009. I have learnt to surrender my life into His hands. God in His mercy has given me peace in my grief, but above all, He has led me to the Catholic Church.
Recovering from my grief was a life-changing experience for me. Although my son is no longer around, I know that I have to let go and move on. God gives me the power to live my life as a victor rather than a victim. n
‘God made it possible for me to attend RCIA’
By Leo Chin Kwang
THOUGH NOT A Catholic, I have been accompanying my baptised wife and two children to Mass for some time. In 2007, I felt God calling me.
After consulting a friend about exploring the Catholic faith, I began to seek opportunities to join the RCIA programme. I was eventually led to the Church of St. Vincent De Paul where I met Phillies and Maria, who encouraged me to enrol for the RCIA programme there.
I experienced challenges during my RCIA journey. Often, my business trips clashed with RCIA lessons, but somehow the Lord made it possible for me to attend the lessons. A project or meeting would end ahead of schedule and a ticket would be available on supposedly full flights, in time for me to return for RCIA lessons.
Once, I overslept and nearly missed the 9.00am Mass which include a “Breaking of the Word” session. Strangely, a misdialled phone call from a friend woke me up. This could not be coincidence, and I believe that if we are committed to God, He has a special way of answering our prayers.