Searching for a church to call your own? Do you struggle with questions about life, death, suffering, forgiveness, love, God? Why do Catholics go to Mass? Sessions exploring these & other faith issues in relation to our Catholic belief are conducted in St Vincent's Parish. See parish bulletin for details.
The Christian Initiation Process is a vital part of life at St Vincent's Parish.
Reflecting on their experiences, those who participated in the Christian Initiation process last year had this to say:
God had always existed to me in the picture bible that I was given to read as a young child. But who he was and what he represented were concepts that I didn't really understand back then. My mother is a bhuddist and my father had a pretty bad experience with religion. His friend belonged to a church where there was a 10% "voluntary" donation of income. Because his friend was financially broke, he had to borrow money from other friends to donate to the church and that was pretty much the first and last experience my father ever had of the church. So I grew up believing in what I saw and what could be explained.
When I look back through time, God had called to me quite a few times or maybe had I called to him in those times of desperation. We'd be close for a while but they never lasted. As soon as I got better, God would take a backseat and I would get on with my life. My first real impression I had with Him was through my then girlfriend (now fiancee) N2. Their family lived in His presence on a daily basis and I could see that from the prayers they'd say before a meal, the Mass they'd attend on the weekend, the evening chanting of the rosary and the multitudes of small things that I didn't do in my family. I knew that if I wanted to marry this wonderful girl, I'd need to become a Catholic as their family were strict Catholics.
Learning about God started in my first year at university with Father Hackett. He had so generously taken out an hour of his time each week just to go through the gospels with me. And though I learned a lot about Jesus through Mark, Luke, John and Mathew I had a pretty tough time trying to stay awake in that little airless room with not much light! That first year I learned that Jesus shared a lot of things in common with me. But where he had gone out and acted on his compassion, I just thought about it but never really done anything.
It's funny that as you grow up, it's harder to accept things that you can't explain or see evidence of. But as a child, I was so readily able to believe and accept Him. My understanding of what God stood for grew but his existence in my mind had been wavering for a while and I really struggled with the concept of His existence. This is at the time that Father Hackett was going back to Queensland and Father Tam was appointed to fill the position. Instead of having 1-on-1 sessions with me, he found a group called the RCIA or Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. This is how I came to Ashfield church.
I joined the RCIA program being run by Sister Therese at Ashfield in
The uni years were not easy and during and after uni, life threw a few more things at me. Suffice to say that those were some darker years. I kept going to church, initially for my relationship with my girlfriend but soon I found that it was for a break from the world. There is something magical, something strengthening about kneeling there, listening to the most wondrous music and pouring your heart out to someone whom you seriously doubt exists. Week after week I went and I prayed for things, I sung with everyone and I felt at peace for the time that I was there. Weeks turned into months and months into years.
As time passed I stopped asking God if He exists (can you believe that, in my prayer I was asking God if he exists), I stopped searching for answers of how people could go from not believe to believing. I started praying for the things that really mattered in my life and accepted the outcomes as they came. Even now I don't really understand how it works or what happened but if you asked me now if God exists I could wholeheartedly say yes. But I wouldn't be able to point to you a reason, or an event or some evidence where I could say 'see, this happened and therefore I believe he exists'. I couldn't even point to a time when it happened. But to me this is faith. Faith is belief without evidence, trust without proof, knowing that you are loved without ever being told.
Written by Joe Ni
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