During the Easter vigil, more than 3,000 new Catholics in Malaysia received the Initiation Sacraments (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist). The celebration that takes place during the night of Holy Saturday to Easter Sunday is “a vigil in honour of the Lord” during which Catholics celebrate Easter. It is the passage from darkness to light and marks Christ’s victory over death.
In the sharings below, we can see how the newly baptised have found the peace and joy of Christ.
Do continue to keep them in your prayers.
God has a plan for us
“Throughout my life, I always believed that although we may not know in advance, God has a plan for all of us. Part of His plan was for me to become Catholic. I am so thankful that I listened. I have been eagerly attending each week’s RCIA classes and somewhere along the process, something began to change in me. The lessons gave me a sense of peace that I have never felt before. It gave me the desire to pray the rosary. I began to realise that the something was the Holy Spirit calling me. I would like to thank specifically Christina and my sponsor for guiding and bringing me closer to Him and His glory.” — Esther Lau Huey Yee, Church of St Mary of Divine Mercy, Sibu
Our Lord is always present
“I was seven years old when I was taught to pray by my neighbour. By the time I was 13, during a Sunday service in Christchurch, I felt a strong presence that affected me. The inexpressible feeling of peace and serenity touched me, leaving me tearing non-stop. I knew that was God! That moment has since been imprinted in my heart. Although I was not allowed to be baptised by my free thinker parents then, I continued to search for the answers.
In Singapore, I struggled to understand the incidents I had seen and encountered. The commercialism put a stop to my churching altogether.
“Years went by. My prayers, however, never stopped.It was not until I needed God’s help to comfort a depressed friend that I was brought back to church in Kuching.
“I hadn’t understood the Mass but only heard the words RCIA twice. That was God’s message for me. Our Lord is always present, always knocking! Amen!” — Janice Catalina Soon, St Joseph Cathedral, Kuching
My questions were finally answer
“First of all, I come from a mixed religion family. My father is a Buddhist and my mother is a Roman Catholic. Every Sunday, since I was a little boy, I used to follow my mother to Church. I understood the flow of the Mass. However, the significance and importance of every Eucharistic celebration were not really clear to me.
“Every time I went to church, I felt like someone was calling me to attend Mass. I always felt calm and at peace. I could sense the presence of God but always felt incomplete, like there was something else missing in me. Finally last year, I decided to become a Catholic myself and joined the RCIA class.
“Before the lessons, there were a lot of unanswered questions. I now feel that the way to Christ is clearer, the teachings have even changed my way of thinking, decision making and interacting with people around me.
“Another reason why I have decided to become a Catholic is because I know, deep down, it is the one true divine religion that has been founded by Jesus Christ and all his apostles.
“Now I am feeling anxious and excited because after being baptised, I am a complete and true Catholic, receiving the Holy Spirit and on my way to salvation.
“Life is a never ending learning process, and there are still a lot of things about the religion I have not known, I will do my best to continuously learn as much as I can throughout my life as a Catholic and follow the way of Christ.” –Zachary Harris Josel, Sacred Heart Church, KLed
“I feel welcomed into the big family of the Catholic Church. I am learning: prayers, the sacraments, the Eucharist, the Catholic faith, the Bible and yet feel so inadequate and need to learn and discover more.
“At the Rite of Election at St Michael’s Church, Ipoh, I was so impressed to see so many others like me in search of God and His Church. The Bishop’s homily on discernment to move forward was inspiring, relevant and a challenge to me. “I am still discovering my role and mission in the Church.
I am looking forward to the Sacrament of Confirmation, to be sealed with the Holy Spirit and to take a bigger step forward towards mission to others, the Church, the youth and fellow students.
“Let us continue praying for one another.” — Ilyeonna Allissa James, Most Holy Redeemer Church, Tg.Malim.
Church organist was the catalyst in my search for God
“When I was abroad, I met a church organist who was very kind towards me. He used to play sacred music for me, knowing that I am passionate about sacred music. He would ask me which hymns I liked and gave me the music scores for them.
“Then, I came across an article about him saying that he chose to be a musician because of spiritual and religious reasons. I was so touched and inspired by him. It was like an awakening. I knew immediately that I wanted to be a good person like him. I want to give up everything in my life to do God’s will like him.
“After I returned to Malaysia, I immediately went online to research about how to be a Catholic. That was how I got to know about the RCIA programme. The RCIA programme has taught me a lot about the Catholic faith and the bible. I got to know more about God and I hope to know him more. I believe that God is truly present in this organist who opened my eyes.” — Cavannah Yap, St Peter’s Church, Melaka
We felt a sense of peace and joy
“I had my first experience of God’s inflow of grace when I witnessed my friend Matthew Yip’s baptism, one year ago at the Easter vigil.
“Having been brought up in the Taoist faith, I had never attended Mass, and never experienced the healing power of Jesus Christ.
“I work as a construction engineer in Kuala Lumpur but come home on weekends. I was always fraught with worries and work-related stress, yet I felt a great sense of peace at Mass.
“I attended two more Masses with my friend who then invited me to join the RCIA programme.
“I agreed because I had never felt such an experience of God anywhere else and the deep sense of peace has remained with me ever since.
“During the first scrutiny when Fr Liew laid his hands over me, I felt such great peace and joy inside my heart.
“The RCIA facilitators taught me well, and were very patient and open. It wasn’t as strict or regimented as I feared at first,” he said.
My wife, Beverly, comes from a Buddhist family. She followed me to Mass and joined in the RCIA as well.
“I felt great joy in my heart after coming to know about Jesus Christ in the RCIA.
“Mass was a healing place for me. At Lent, I discovered that although I had less in life (materially), through sacrifice, I had minimal demands. I am happier when I have less.
“I experienced a touching moment during my first scrutiny, when I felt a deep sense of joy that can only come from the divine love of God.
“I intend to learn more about Jesus Christ, with my husband, through a Bible course.” — Gabriel Liew Yih Yang & Beverly Anne Lok, St Michael’s Church, Ipoh
Proud to be Catholic
“I am feeling proud to be a Roman Catholic. I was touched when I received the ‘Our Father’ prayer card from Fr Francis Sundarajan during the Third Scrutiny. I feel that I am on my way to getting closer to God.” — Mary Ngo Pei Ling, Church of St Mary of the Divine Mercy, Sibu
Trials easily faced with Christ by my side
“The life I lived prior to my RCIA journey had always been filled with many hurdles and challenges. As a daughter, student and employee, striving for survival meant educating myself for a better future. Several times a feeling of despair weakened me.
“At some point, the yearning towards religion pushed me to persevere until my curiosity was answered. Having been raised in the midst of worshipping multiple deities, confusing prayer chants and superstition, my curiosity could not be satisfied.
“Fast-forward a year into this magnificent journey, I realise the hurdles and challenges I face in life are the same, but with the Lord by my side, I find solutions through prayer. Meditating on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ makes my trials seem petty and easy to face. The Lord is building my faith and trust in him.
“I am gifted with inspiring RCIA facilitators and my Godmother, Mrs Priscilla Gregory, who has been guiding me towards Our Lord.
“I look forward to my baptism, knowing the Bible verse “The Lord Is My Shepherd, I Shall Not Want” – Psalm 23:1. I implore the Lord to keep me on the right path.” — Amelia Narmatha d/o Kalimuthu, Church of St Joseph, Kuala Lumpur
St Anne drew me to the Catholic Church
“I have been helping out as a volunteer with a small group of friends during the Feast of St Anne since 1974. Ten years later, I was offered a job in the government sector. I also noticed that my friends who served in the feast had good jobs too. I truly believe that St Anne has blessed us all.
“Everytime, I step into the church compound, I feel so peaceful and the people at the church always made me feel so welcome.
“I wanted to know more about Christ, but it took me some years to finally make this decision to be baptised.
“My wife supported my decision and encouraged me to join this programme. My two Catholic friends, Sinappan and James Michael, whom I have known for over 40 years, helped me to enrol in the RCIA programme.”–Gunaseelam, Church of St Anne, Bukit Mertajam
Family is so much closer now
“My husband and I joined the RCIA class at the Church of Divine Mercy (CDM) in 2017. It has been a great journey to learn about Christ and to experience Him in this holy church.
We also send our two girls (6 years old and 8 years old) to catechism. So we are all learning about Christ together, even though it’s in different classes. “We also have family prayer together and it’s amazing that through daily family prayer, our family stays so much closer than before.
“I pray that we will continue to grow our faith in God and stay closer to God day by day. God bless!” — Elisa Tan Yean Chet, CDM, Penang
Grateful to have taken this chance
“I am married to a Catholic. My husband and his family have never influenced me to become a Christian, but last year, I made a decision to pursue the Catholic faith and enrolled in the RCIA class. It was not an easy decision as my husband and I work almost seven days a week. It was hard for me to commit to a one year journey of attending RCIA classes every Sunday. I asked myself, how do we reciprocate God’s blessing and protection? I am not even a “full fledged” Catholic to receive holy communion, neither am I qualified to enter the Christian cemetery after death.
“Most human beings are selfish. We all want God’s blessings without making any sacrifices in life. There are only a few chosen ones who would dedicate their whole life to serve God faithfully, without chasing material wealth. There is always a feeling of emptiness and guilt in my heart that we always pray hard only when we hope our earnest wish will be granted by our merciful God.
“I believe that at some point of time, we need to listen and respond to the inner voice of our heart telling us that God is calling us to find out the true meaning of life.
“A few years ago, when I suffered an infection and needed to undergo an emergency operation, I was not fearful. I knew God would watch over me; truly everything went smoothly.
“When I joined RCIA, I realised that there was so much to learn about our God and the Catholic faith. During the recent retreat, one of the RCIA coordinators, Richard Chia, gave a really good example. If a patient was told by his doctor that he only has three months to live, he would most probably pray to God everyday to ease his suffering and ask God to grant a miracle to continue to live…. Do we only seek God when we need favours or intervention from our merciful and forgiving God?
“In our sharing, we all agreed that God has granted us more peace and opened our eyes to see right from wrong, to be more forgiving, patient. I am truly grateful and blessed to have undergone this amazing journey of faith.
“Throughout this one year, I am thankful to all the RCIA coordinators and facilitators for sacrificing their family time on Sundays just to journey with us. I truly appreciate those who are involved in the Church, especially our priest, Msgr Leonard Lexson. I am so grateful that I have taken the first step to embrace the Catholic faith and be able to enjoy the sacrament of baptism and finally participate fully in the Eucharist for the years to come. Praise God for the wonderful blessings showered upon us daily. Amen” — Clare Chong Siew Fong, St John Cathedral, Kuala Lumpur
I now realise that God has always been with me
“Im a g i n e you are forced to enter a darkened maze because of your disobedience and the long way out is your salvation.
You enter blindly, crawl around frantically and feel your way through the dark. You have heard about heaven, you have had a glimpse of it in the distance and you know God is cheering you on but the maze is never straight and fraught with danger. Knowing God without RCIA is like being in that darkened maze without a torchlight. Where once I stumbled in utter confusion hoping for clarity, RCIA gave me an enlightened path.
“I have never regretted my time with the Seventh Day Adventist Church, though being in that maze without a torchlight, God has always been with me but I was too confused to acknowledge Him. Having gone through RCIA, my life as a true Christian has finally begun. Salvation is no longer blurry, distant and obscured, it is now a clear definite. I just needed the conviction to traverse it. Pray for me, my brothers and sisters in Christ. Amen.” –John Edwards Chung, St Peter’s Church, Kuchin
My journey will continue
“My journey through RCIA in learning about Catholicism was rather short but interesting. I learnt about Jesus, the Bible and certain doctrines about the Catholic Church, its Sacraments, Mother Mary, the Mass and more.
“I am excited and looking forward to my forthcoming Baptism to be a Catholic this Easter Vigil.
“However, my journey will still continue as I embark on the learning process as a ‘baptised Catholic’
“I wish to thank all the people involved in my journey, namely the hard working facilitators and the guest speakers, my Godmother and others. God bless you.”–Rovena Anne, St Peter’s Church, Melaka
Article reproduced from Herald Malaysia online