Mark Suezo

Campus Missionary, Simon Fraser University
mark.suezo@cco.ca
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I have always been grateful for many of the things God has given me, but my family has truly been such a blessing in my life. I grew up in a family of five; my mother, father, big brother, little sister, and I. ‘Integrity’ sums up my mother and father in one word. They were never the parents who tried to keep up with the Jones’. They were humble, and all they cared about was providing a good honest life for my siblings and me. They did this in the little things like not taking part in gossip or loose talk with other friends and families. A bolder way they showed this was trusting God’s plan for our family to move to Canada 13 years ago from the Philippines to escape terrorism and a poor economy. It amazes me how much courage and abandon it took to leave everything behind and start a new life in Vancouver with almost no family and friends. Above all, I am most inspired and grateful for their faith and love for God, and for each other.

My big brother’s name is Michael and he’s 4 years older than me. He wasn’t a typical big brother, in the sense that he didn’t beat me up, tease me, take my candy, or push me around like some of the big brothers I have seen growing up. It was the exact opposite. If I could sum up my big brother in one word it would be ‘sacrifice’. He was as selfless as they come, understanding, and responsible beyond belief. My “kuya”(big brother in my language) is now a nurse in mental health, and a business owner.

My little sister’s name is Kim, a name that was inspired by the pink ranger in power rangers. She’s 4 years younger than me, and I was, towards her, the exact opposite of how my brother was towards me. I picked on her a lot growing up, to the point where she even wrote that she hated me in her diary when she was 5! But, based on everything, if I could sum her up in one word (like I have so far with everyone else), it would be ‘angel’. Friends would ask about my sister, and that’s the word that tends to be used to describe her on a consistent basis. I believe that’s because of her kind and gentle personality, and her pure, child-like approach to life. These attributes have her on track to sainthood at her young age (she is 16 as I write this). She’s one of the most emotionally and spiritually mature people I know for her age. As the protective one of the two brothers, she has never had me worried about her time in high school, and I can honestly say I trust her with the directions she’ll take in life.

My family has truly been a blessing. The person I have become is not so much by my doing, but by God’s grace, and by the influence of those with whom He has surrounded me from the very beginning.

After a broken relationship in senior year of high school, I lost myself in sin and strayed away from my faith. My spiritual state was so grave that it affected me physically as well. Every time I would attend Mass, especially during communion, I would feel ill and sick to my stomach.

During the summer, before my first year of University at Simon Fraser University(SFU), I swore to myself that I wanted to put my life back together. My heart told me to start with my faith first. Looking back, this deciding moment reminded me of the prodigal son in the Gospel of Luke. After squandering all his father’s property, and ending up at his lowest point of his life, he finally acknowledges his sins, repents, and turns back to his father. Just like the prodigal son, my Father’s forgiveness was also immediate and intense.

After my first week in SFU, I encountered CCO for the first time at their outreach table during Clubs week. Shortly after that I was followed up by a campus missionary, and he introduced me to the CCO community and to the chaplain priest on campus. On that same day, I went to the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time in 3 years. This was huge, and the first step to what would be years of healing to come.

The following week, I went to CCO’s annual fall retreat. During adoration on the second night, Jesus called me to the altar to speak to Him. I came forth, knelt down, and (taking the advice of a dear friend I met there) I said “Jesus, these sins are heavy, like a big heavy boulder, and I can’t carry it on my own. I’ve tried, but no matter how hard I try on my own to fix what I’ve done, it only gets heavier. I now take this moment to lift up my sins, this burden, and I ask you to carry it for me, to take it away.” In that moment, I felt this supernatural peace I’ve never experienced in my whole life shower over me starting from my head to my toes. I then committed my life to Christ swearing my best to never leave his side.

Since then, I joined staff with CCO and I am currently a campus missionary at Simon Fraser University. Let me share a highlight from my time with CCO. During clubs week in the spring semester of 2013, I met a really genuine guy who wrote on his questionnaire “If you could ask God anything what would it be?” and he wrote “Why do I have so many girl problems.” I made a funny comment on that and we became friends from there. He decided to sign up for a Discovery Faith Study. During the second lesson on God’s proven and merciful love he had a conversion of heart. He ended up telling me afterwards along the lines of, “I don’t know what I’m feeling right now, but it’s like meeting your first love all over again.” I fist bumped for a good solid 5 minutes after he went away. Recently, he went to Summit for the first time, a CCO event of Eucharistic adoration, and he prayed to God, confirming his decision to put God at the center of his life that he made in the faith study. Now he has a childhood friend who also grew up Catholic that he wants to lead in a Discovery faith study to help him with his relationship with Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord.

I believe CCO’s Discovery faith study has been vital to not only my own journey, but countless individuals I have met along the way. After the Archdiocese of Vancouver held an event, Man Alive, they began a program called “Project Timothy.” I was asked to be a faith study leader among other peers in CCO. During the spring/winter of 2013, I led a faith study with two men, one in his 30’s and one in his 40’s. The simplicity of the study and its focus on the very bare bones of our Catholic faith blew their mind. Just like many of us, they forgot that our faith begins first with an encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ, and a Christ-centered relationship. During the month of December, they both went to Confession for the first time in years.

The journey to CCO Staff has been by far the most challenging experience I have ever gone through in my life. In Isaiah 43:2, God says “When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.” Through the purifying challenges and tribulations, I endured for God, and He has taught me how to become better abandoned to His will, and follow the plan He has for my life.

ONGOING PRAYER REQUESTS

Prayers for my family: Soy, Gani, Michael and Kim, entrusted in God’s hands I may continue to trust in his ultimate goodness and will for their lives.

Prayers for my support raising: that I may support raise with love and peace in full confidence in God’s plan.

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