I have encountered God not once but thrice – personally and deeply.
All through my early formative years, I have been blessed to have been educated in mission schools, CHIJ Punggol and then St Joseph’s Convent.
In secondary school, my school mate brought me to church and I got to know her parents, Francis and Catherine, who served in the Church of St Francis Xavier. They helped to prepare for Mass daily; they opened the church door, cooked, ironed and washed for the priests.
Francis and Catherine were very dedicated. The way they lived and served had a tremendous influence on me in wanting to belong and serve in the Catholic community. They became my god parents when I decided to be baptised.
The First Encounter
The first time I encountered Our Lord deeply was after my baptism at the age of 19. Praise God I was able to receive the Sacrament of Baptism despite having a bit of objection from my Taoist parents, mainly my late father.
As a young Catholic then, I looked to God for direction after completing my GCE ‘A’ levels. I prayed for God to show me the path I should take. I asked for wisdom in choosing the right career. By God’s grace, an opportunity presented itself and I landed a job as a kindergarten teacher in a Catholic pre-school.
“I felt wonderful … having opportunities daily to share His word and love”
Teaching was truly my calling and I went on to teach for almost 21 years. I felt wonderful in being able to not only impart the ABCs and 123s, but also in having opportunities daily to share His word and love to the young impressionable children under my care.
I saw Our Lord’s hand guiding me as I delivered my lessons; leading me in nurturing the children to do their best; and most of all, in saying the right words to these young minds that often left deep impressions on them.
This was a gift that prepared me well for the second encounter.
The Second Encounter
The second encounter happened while I was trying to conceive after getting married at the age of 35.
“I made a promise to HIM that I would accept His will”
For almost 5 years, my husband and I prayed for a miracle. Then we heard the message “adoption”. Everything went smoothly during our preparation for the arrival of our son whom we had named ‘Dominic’. All the paper work was done and all the necessities for a newborn were bought. We were ready to welcome our baby and shower our love on him.
At the 11th hour, however, Dominic’s biological mom changed her mind and decided to keep her baby!
We were devastated as we had really wanted a child and had anticipated Dominic’s arrival for so many months. On the other hand, we were happy that Dominic was not going to be separated from his mom.
Prayers and family support enveloped me during this period and helped me cope with my depression. Gradually, God healed me from the sense of loss and disappointment. I made a promise to HIM that I would move on and accept His will if He decided that I would not be a mom when I turned 40.
But once again, HE heard my prayers and I conceived in July that year, the very month I turned 40. My very own Dominic was born months before I turned 41. Without hesitation, I left my job tending to His flock to tend to my own little lamb.
I wanted to savour every moment and nurture the GIFT Our Lord has bestowed upon me.
The Third Encounter
A few years later, the third encounter happened when my mom moved in with me after my father passed on.
My mom had always wanted to be a Christian as my maternal grandparents belonged to the Pentecostal church. But she could not do so when my father was alive as he was a strict Taoist.
After she moved in with me, I brought her to church. She found much joy in being in the presence of God and looked forward to attending mass every week.
Though she was illiterate, she was keen to receive Christ and desired deeply to be His daughter. Through God’s angels I managed to find a servant of The Lord who came to my home to give her catechism lessons in Teochew.
She was baptised as Maria at the age of 80, and lived the faith joyfully for 3 years before The Lord took her home in April 2020.
My Next Calling
My mom’s death hit me really hard. While recovering from grief, I began to search for my next calling. I wanted to serve HIM again. After much praying and discernment, I decided to serve as a Catechist in the Children’s Liturgy.
Covid-19, however, struck in early 2020 and disrupted the plan. I am waiting and praying to be called again; and I am looking forward to the day when we can all go back to church and gather as a community once again.
Christmas 2020 marks my 30th year as a Catholic. Looking back at my faith journey, and the last 8 years as a stay-at-home mum since my son was born, there is one thing I learn over and over again – God always answers in His time, according to His will. God will give what I desire, if it is His will for me. And when it is the right time, there will be signs to guide us.
God’s timing is always perfect. Trust and pray.
My Prayer for the Catholic Church’s 200th anniversary
Lord, our Church is one of the most important things in my life because it brings me closer to you. I ask for your blessings on it, and I lift it up to you. Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to be a part of this congregation — and a part of you.
In your holy name, Amen.