Hillary (back row, fifth from the left) attending Mass with her Catholic faith community.
Photo: Hillary Wan
It Is Jesus I Seek
Though Hillary Wan was born into a non-Catholic Christian family, her encounter with the Lord only occurred many years later. Now, as a catechumen who is looking forward to her baptism, she shares what initiated her journey towards the Catholic Church, and how she hopes to share her faith with others.
My path to Catholicism has not been straightforward. Though my mum was a Catholic at the time, I was never baptised. When I was about six years old, my parents converted to the Anglican faith. This led me to spend most of my youth in the Anglican Church and later a non-denominational church.
Growing up, I had always felt that I had never known God personally. I have brief flashes of going through the motions: helping to hit the gong at the start of Mass as a pre-schooler, and falling asleep during Mass as a teen in secondary school. I wrestled with many questions about God, and I never truly felt at home worshipping God as a Protestant.
Falling in love with God
Throughout my adolescent years, I sought a reason to live; I struggled to find my purpose in life. Not knowing how to deal with my internal conflicts, and lacking a personal relationship with God, I indulged in vices like alcohol in an attempt to escape what I felt. Back then, God was never really “my God”. He was someone I had only heard about – someone else’s God.
It was only after my encounter with the Holy Spirit during a praying-over session at a retreat that I came to experience the truth of His love for me. Every emotion that I had suppressed came rushing out, and I felt an overwhelming sense of being seen and loved by Him. The love that I encountered connected the dots in my life, and gave me a lot of meaning and hope.
However, what really convinced me to become a Catholic was the realisation that I was able to understand and love God in a deeper and more intimate way through the many Catholics I met who were knowledgeable and passionate about their faith. They shared their faith with me coherently and comprehensively, and showed me how beautiful God truly is.
One of them was my boyfriend. We often had many arguments about what Catholics believe. The more we discussed these issues, the more I started to see the beauty and truth of what the Catholic Church teaches, and why. I was astounded to discover that everything that I questioned had a reason: the Mass, the Eucharist, the prayers. I saw that the Catholic Church was the Church that Jesus Himself founded.
As a catechumen learning more about God, I have come to not only love God but His people too. The saying, “The people of God are the visible face of the Church”, is true. I was drawn to the faith by many friends whose lives were changed by Christ and are now living radically for Him.
Hurdles in faith
Today, I am undergoing formation in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) programme at the Church of St Ignatius, and look forward to getting baptised by Easter next year. The journey has not been easy. There have been many struggles and fears, particularly the fear of needing to be a perfect Catholic. Even now, a sense of unworthiness creeps up on me when I fall back on my old ways. Being the only one in the family who converted to Catholicism, I also struggle to be myself and sometimes lack the courage to practise my faith.
Yet God continually reminds me of the blessings He has showered His love on me, especially through those that have led me to where I am now in my journey. Every time I find myself struggling with the difficulties and temptations of life, He gives me the grace I need to faithfully follow Him. He not only strengthens me to walk this journey, but also gives me the desire to serve Him and to give what I can to Him and His Church.
More to come
Becoming a Catholic requires a leap of faith. Every step I take is a response to an invitation to trust in Jesus even more as He calls me to this new phase of my life with Him as a young working adult. As I continue to entrust my life to God, I pray He gives me a heart like the Good Samaritan, to treat and to love my neighbour as myself.
Saint John Paul II once said, “It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you.”
The world deeply longs for Jesus, and it is our mission to tell them all about Him. I pray that Catholics will not settle for a lukewarm faith, because only people with a passion for God will inspire others.
Many people may only encounter the faith through us. I pray that in this way, I can also pass on the faith, just as how the faith was passed to me.