A former Roman Catholic

         I was born into a Roman Catholic family, the eldest of four children. Our family was not a devout Roman Catholic family, but we did the 'more important' Catholic religious practices--I received infant baptism, received First Holy Communion, went to Catechism, received Confirmation, wore scapulars, went to Confession once a month along with Penance and fasted on meat on Fridays during Lent.

My parents didn't go to church, but made sure that we went so that we could get the proper religious teachings. We did what my parents thought was necessary to keep us qualified to be Catholics, to remain members of the church; after all, all the other religions were wrong--Catholics were the only ones who were granted God's favor enough to go to heaven--we were of the elite religion and snubbed all others. We were taught that as long as we did the basic practices and that we didn't commit a big sin (which was murdering anyone), then we would go to heaven along with all the other Roman Catholics; and if for some reason there was some sin you didn't confess to the priest that would keep you out of heaven, purgatory was there to catch you and all you had to do was do your time there and then the gates of heaven would be opened.

After I had left home, I stopped going to church because it was unfulfilling, even though I tried really hard to get fulfillment from it. (My parents did keep paying my dues for me to keep me on the church books to keep me a member, in case I died or want to get married in the church, the church would not bury or marry me unless I was a member.) Although I had a reverence for God, I avoided all religions at all costs.

Many years later, we met a family that had a peace about them that I was really curious about. Everyday problems that would upset anyone else, didn't upset them. They had a love for people that I couldn't understand. I talked with them for months, over nothing in particular but I just liked being around them. I liked the peaceful, relaxing feeling I got when I was around them. We moved away from the area, but they diligently kept in touch with us. They finally challenged us to get a Bible and read it. I had no idea even where to buy a Bible, but eventually found a Christian book store that had a Bible written for children. Finally, I found a Bible that I could read and understand!

I took that Bible home and started reading the New Testament. It captured me like the good mystery novels used to capture me, where I couldn't put it down. I would get up, read it, get my daughter off on the school bus and continue reading. Before I knew it, hours had passed and my daughter was returning home from school. I couldn't explain the addiction it had on me, but whenever I read it I felt such a peace and love coming from that Book. As I was reading about Jesus and the way He lived and handled circumstances and others, I kept saying that that is the peace I am looking for, that is the love I want, that is the way I want to be with others. Little did I know I was praying for Jesus to enter my life and change it--but God knew and I received His love, peace and joy as I received Christ to be the Lord of my life and Savior of my soul.

I have learned much since then and have much to learn--but challenge others with the same challenge I was given several years ago--

"You have tried everything, but still lack something -- something that you aren't even sure as to what it is, so now just try Jesus--just try Him and His way. Get a Bible, start reading the New Testament, and see if what is in those pages isn't what you want. What's the harm? If you don't like what He has to offer, you can always turn back, right? But I guarantee this--once you tasted the water He has to offer you to quench that thirst you feel, you will never thirst again. You won't ever want to go back."


Doreen Sawchak