“I felt a change in me right there and then. I knew Christ was with me.”
If you don’t know me already my name is Laura and Father Paul has asked if I would share my testimony with you all. As most of you will know, I was confirmed in to the Catholic faith at Easter this year, on Holy Saturday. However I have been attending Mass services here since March 2016.
I’d like to share my journey with you today.
I am the oldest of 3 children and as a young child I used to attend a Church of England Church (where we lived in Bedfordshire) with my mum and brothers each Sunday.
The Church had a great sense of community and the Sunday School leader, Mrs Salter, was wonderful.
I have such fond memories of being in the Church and starting to learn about Jesus’ message.
The Church was like a home from home; a safe place, a place where I could pray and feel the warmth and comfort of everyone around me.
I have many many fond memories of Easter services, Harvest Festivals and Nativity and Christingle services at Christmas. I also have a clear memory, at roughly the age of 6, being desperate to go to Church on Christmas Day to celebrate the birth of Christ. I was already more interested in going to Church than enjoying all the new presents at home!
“…our lives had been absolutely turned upside down.”
Sadly, when I was 8 years old, my parents divorced and my mum, brothers and I moved to the New Forest. 135 miles from the safely of our village and Church community.
To make matters so much worse, less than a week after we moved, my youngest brother David, who was 4 at the time, was rushed in to hospital and was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.
Needless to say our lives had been absolutely turned upside down.
As a result of the new situation we had found ourselves in, life became totally different and my mum struggled immensely as my brother David was so very poorly.
My mum and David barely left Southampton Hospital for 18 months and my other brother Mark and I were looked after by various relations and friends whilst my mum concentrated on David. My dad was taking care of Mark and I at weekends but was still living and working in Bedfordshire during the week.
“I privately prayed every single night to Jesus, that David would recover”
As a result of the situation, Church unfortunately went by the wayside. Everything was different, everything had changed and we had to get used to our ‘new normal’. However I privately prayed every single night to Jesus, that David would recover and that all my loved ones would be kept safe.
“If there is a God, why has this happened to us?”
David was thankfully given the ‘all clear’ after a very intense 3 years of treatment and he managed to start a mainstream school (albeit 2-3 years later than the other kids his age). Life continued to be a struggle for my mum, who had also lost her own sister to childhood cancer at the age of 11.
I remember having a conversation with my mum – I think I was mid teens at the time – asking her about her faith. I very clearly remember her saying:
‘If there is a God, why has this happened to us?’
And I remember not really knowing what to say in response. However this did not stop me believing in God and thanking God for David’s recovery.
A number of years went by and although we no longer attended Church as a family, I always felt a personal connection to Jesus.
I have always believed in Jesus and have always continued to pray and give thanks to him.
“when Father Paul placed his hands on my head and called the Holy Spirit down, I felt an intense connection to Christ. I felt a change in me right there and then. I knew Christ was with me”
I moved to Hook as an adult and after meeting my now husband (who is a Catholic) and being welcomed so warmly in to his family, I decided to join the Sacred Heart here in Hook.
Immediately I felt a connection.
Father Peter Codd was the priest here in residence at the time and he made me feel so welcomed, as did the rest of the community. I felt uplifted.
Each week I listened to the word of God and each week I felt so privileged to receive a blessing.
After completing the Journey in Faith programme last year I felt ready to completely commit to becoming a Catholic.
During the confirmation service on Holy Saturday when Father Paul placed his hands on my head and called the Holy Spirit down, I felt an intense connection to Christ. I felt a change in me right there and then. I knew Christ was with me. Receiving Holy Communion for the first time was such an honour.
“My faith and belief was holding me up which felt quite incredible. “
Since being welcomed in to the community here at The Sacred Heart and since becoming Catholic, I feel that I am better equipped to walk through life.
For example, my Grandfather, who has always been my greatest hero, sadly passed away in June this year after a very short illness.
This was something I’d dreaded throughout my whole life and had always had a huge amount of anxiety about, often working myself in to a panic at the thought of losing him.
When his time came, I felt strangely calm and collected. I had an overwhelming sense of peace. I knew right there and then that he had joined Jesus is Heaven. The strength I drew from the overwhelming sense of calm and peace was immense.
My faith and belief was holding me up which felt quite incredible.
I will never forget how my faith helped me though losing him, and how comforting the presence of God and power of prayer is.
I would like to thank Father Paul and all the community here at The Sacred Heart for being a continual source of support. I also thank God for showing me the way to him and His Church and always being present in my life. My love and understanding of God and His word will only ever continue to deepen and develop and I look forward to what God has in store for me.
Thank you all for listening.
Do you have a story to tell? Do get in touch if you do…
Just contact firstname.lastname@example.org