My parents raised me in the Catholic Church and brought me into the life of a lay Catholic, charismatic, family community called Couples for Christ (CFC). I would attend Mass each Sunday, pray daily rosaries with my parents (with only a smidge of reluctance!), and eventually became a leader in the youth group under the CFC community. Several times a year, I would listen to talks about understanding who Jesus is in my life – and every time this happened, I was convinced that there was nothing more I needed to learn.
What I thought was a personal relationship with Jesus, however, was more of an evaluation of my efforts; the more that I sang, or took on tasks in my community, or was recognized as a key leader, the closer I felt Jesus was. The way that I saw him had more to do with the worth I placed on myself. In my teenage pursuit of truth, I turned inwardly for the answers.
The turning point came in the final days of my dad’s life as he fought to recover from leukemia in my first year of university. While I waited to receive Communion at Mass one Sunday in this time, something just felt… different. I was covered with warmth and moved by consolation, but also overcome with the heavy understanding that I would have to brave some suffering I had yet to know. Two weeks later, my dad succumbed to a sudden infection and we lost him. In the heartache, I remembered what happened at Mass and was filled with hope; I realized that Jesus was truly present. I believe that God gifted me with the wisdom and conviction to understand that, even in losing my dad, I was not forsaken. I was being fiercely prepared; I was being spoken to; I was being Fathered.
Bearing witness to the life and death of my dad caused me to think more of Jesus’ life and death, and the resulting faith of so many who had witnessed and mourned him. In losing my dad, I gained the conviction that God’s love for me was personal and that He gave of His only Son for me; God understood the piercing reality of death as I did, and this shaped the start of my decision to choose a relationship with Jesus out of love for him.
At the Rise Up 2017 Conference in Ottawa, a relic of St. Francis Xavier was brought in. As thousands of people venerated the relic and asked for this great saint’s prayers, my heart was stirred by a particular plea from the Lord: It was on this evening that I wrote out a commitment to praying for greater purity of heart so that I could be strengthened in my missionary identity. While I was thinking something along the lines of “living-out-small-actions-for-the-sake-of-the-Gospel-in-the-familiarity-of-my-everyday-life”, the Lord was creatively preparing me for something more. Now, almost 4 years later, it is rather poetic that I’ll be living in (you perhaps guessed it!) Ottawa, where my work with other missionaries in headquarters will be to discern, plan, and execute a number of events – including Rise Up. As part of the Events team in the Progam Support department, I know that the day-to-day duties and unseen details of our work will serve as the soil for Jesus’ work through CCO to be planted, watered, and grown.
My great expectation is to see the vivid renewal of faith and Catholic leadership in the lives of those even beyond campus, and I am sure this is what I will be a witness of and to through my time in Events.
ONGOING PRAYER REQUESTS
Please pray for my mom as the Lord prepares her for greater moments of saying “yes” to His will in her adjustment to every “yes” of mine; for me and a fantastic fellow missionary, Andrew Brinas, as we prepare for the Sacrament of Marriage next year; and for the hearts, conviction, and conversion of every person who will be reached through CCO’s events.