Read these stories about how lives have been changed by Jesus in our community.
God Knows Me — Jane Avery
I was baptized and raised in the Catholic faith but, like so many of my peers, opted to stray from the Church in my young adulthood, as I believed the Church was not relevant to my life.
I have suffered from anxiety and depression for years, and, in an effort to heal, began to explore New Age modalities of “healing”. I eventually became entrenched in these methods to the point of becoming increasingly sick, hopeless and despondent. I descended, in fact, to a dark place and, instead of experiencing the mental, physical and spiritual healing I was seeking, found myself in increasing trouble. One day, in desperation, I felt the Lord re-direct me to the Truth. My eyes were opened and I saw clearly the error of my ways and the resulting damage that had been done, both to me and my family. I sought the assistance of Father Toochukwu, who led me to understand the importance of prayer, the Mass and Sacraments for TRUE healing. Father affirmed and supported my new-found desire to live my life in Christ, Whom I now understood to truly be the Way, the Truth and the Life, contrary to the deceptive and damaging lies held by the New Age movement. This “revelation” and subsequent return to the Church happened in the fall of 2017. I have since learned the importance of offering up my suffering to Christ. In the past, seeking to extinguish my suffering, I had denied the reality that all humans suffer and have crosses to bear. Now I understand that the Christian way of enduring suffering is, with hope, to unite it with Christ’s suffering, so as to help others and ourselves. It has often been a challenging journey for me as I have been seeking to grow in my faith, but the difference in my life now compared to my pre-conversion life, is black and white. I now have hope and a purpose. I can experience the peace and healing that only Jesus provides. When I suffer, my suffering holds value. I increasingly understand the necessity of having Jesus as the centre of my life, because l have firsthand experienced the darkness and dead-end of shutting Him out.
I became interested in attending Alpha mainly to discuss my faith with others. Surprisingly, even though I didn’t ask my husband to attend, he expressed an interest in attending with me, which was a bonus. My husband has always had a strong Catholic faith. We looked forward to attending Alpha each week and enjoying wonderful meals and discussions with the group. On the “weekend away”, I decided to just let the Holy Spirit lead me to whatever experience was best for me. I wasn’t expecting anything. During prayer and song, as the Holy Spirit was invoked, I gradually felt my anxieties lessen and then disappear. I felt a warm wave of overwhelming peace and calm, and I couldn’t help but smile. It felt very gentle and reassuring as I sat there, listening to the hymns. I couldn’t help but laugh afterwards, describing to others the feeling of being “tranquilized” by the Holy Spirit. I had felt so relaxed and warm that it seemed I couldn’t leave my chair, so a couple of the prayer leaders came to me and asked if I’d wanted to be prayed over, to which I responded, “Yes”. I offered up my specific prayer intention, but one of the leaders added an intention that was, in fact, central to my prayer life, that I hadn’t even mentioned to her. I took that as a sign of acknowledgement and reinforcement, that the Lord knows very much our needs and desires and wants to reassure us that He is listening and actively working in our lives.
Looking back to this Alpha experience, I mainly discovered that the Lord doesn’t always relate to us in grand, show-stopping acts; rather, more often in subtle, gentle ways, tailored to each of us in our needs, situations and dispositions. He knows us better than anyone, as He created us; therefore, only He can “fix” us. I understand that Jesus lovingly accompanies us always throughout our lives, even when we travel the wrong paths.
Divine Interventions — Theresa MacNeil
In truth, I signed up [for Alpha] predominantly out of curiosity.
After watching a video during the first session, I was shocked at the idea that I could grow into having a personal relationship with Jesus. I had never thought about personal relationship before this but was led deeper into that consideration by questions posed like, “where has Jesus been active in your life”, or “what might you ask Jesus if you were to meet him and permitted to ask him one question”. This led me further to
pondering my current idea of God, of relationship with Him, and my faith generally.
As the course rolled along, we viewed additional videos where we heard ordinary people share their beliefs about God and His intervention in their lives, as well as where they each felt they were in their own faith journeys. Not surprisingly their sharing’s were as diverse as the people themselves. Religious experiences ranged from uncertainty about God, to lapsed practices within their religious community, and all the way through to those who possessed a greater depth of spiritual understandings but who were still searching for deeper meaning to their lives. As we participants came to know each other better, we began to experience a genuine trust of each other which led to a comfortable baring of our souls in letting our vulnerabilities and uncertainties about “religion” be exposed.
Initially, hearing people stand and bear witness to personal transformations and conversions they experienced after entering in to a deep and abiding relationship with Jesus, left me feeling marginalized because I was not one who could speak of such an encounter. But I stayed with the course. My staying taught me, through the coaching of our Alpha leaders, the discussions that evolved as a result of questions the course asked us to consider, and the non-judgmental kindness and respect offered by fellow participants, that it was not that I had never had divine interventive things happen in my life, I simply was not paying attention, nor was I consciously aware of the many times He showed up unbidden. I was foolish enough to think I was in control. Through Alpha I have learned the interconnectedness of the Blessed Trinity and have felt the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit working in my life daily. So, I ask you to sign up, and to invite others to join you. While there is no predicting what your experience may be, I guarantee that you will come to know God and yourself better and know members of the community more intimately. You may find yourself starting to act differently…. being more joyful, more hopeful, more forgiving and more anxious to learn more about God and our faith.
God Loves Me Just the Way I Am — Yvette Warner
If you would have asked me five years ago if I thought I would be leading an evangelization ministry at this parish, I would have thought you were crazy. The funny thing is that before Alpha I thought my life was pretty good. I went to church and even volunteered. I believed in the power of prayer but only prayed sporadically. I had and still have a loving husband, three wonderful children, a nice home and we had just retired. But I had this nagging feeling that something was missing in my life. A little voice inside my head saying “there is more to life than this”. I had always felt like I just wasn’t quite good enough. That I didn’t live up to what I thought was God’s expectation of me.
I was at church one weekend and I heard a woman named Kim talk about her experience at Alpha. I thought maybe? Well, I actually signed up for the course and it is the best thing I have ever done.
During Alpha there is a Holy Spirit weekend and that is when I had my life changing experience. It was there on Saturday evening that I felt the Holy spirit enter my body. The last speaker of the day was a priest from another parish named Father Simon. He had us all praying come Holy Spirit, come Holy Spirit over and over again during this time. We were invited to have someone pray with us. I almost didn’t go to get prayed with, but a small voice inside me said you are here, go for it. When I approached the two ladies, I told them what I wanted to pray for. One lady started praying and at some time during this prayer said something like “please make her feel worthy” and I had the most amazing feeling of warmth spread throughout my body. It brought tears to my eyes. I gave the ladies a hug and returned to my seat on legs that I didn’t think would carry me. I was shaking on the inside. It was so amazing to finally realize that God loves me just the way I am. That he gave me the gift of the Holy Spirit to tell me that I am worthy after all. The one thing I can guarantee is that if you open the door and invite him in, he will do amazing things in your life.
I only have one regret with Alpha and that is that I didn’t do it sooner! Don’t let that be your regret!
The First Stretch on a Journey — Sara Smith
The Alpha program is an open invitation to experience something bigger then one’s self. For me, it was the first stretch on a journey where I was met with unconditional love, hope, and faith.
It requires no toll or map, just an open heart, mind, and soul. The best part [about Alpha] is that you are met just where you are: no membership, no prerequisites or interviews required; just
The Alpha program allowed me to rekindle my own journey of faith and meet people who are open, kind and all unique. The best part was recognizing my spiritual relationship was and is always there, just waiting for me to continue one step at a time down my path with God.
Take the chance, you will not be disappointed. Most often the unknown roads take us to the most beautiful destinations.
No One Had All The Answers — Rita Weagle
I heard about Alpha during a live stream Mass in January. Knew nothing about it… I vaguely recalled hearing about it but that’s it… and something caught my attention that morning and I decided I should check it out. And with that, my faith took a sharp turn for the
I was an infrequent Mass attendee, but I felt I had a strong connection with prayer and God… but was questioning my connection with the Catholic church. I had questions… and I had doubts… and although I didn’t have answers, I knew I needed more … more information and
more spirituality in my life.
I enjoyed the supportive, non-judgmental and thought-provoking sessions. I also appreciated that Alpha was all inclusive… regardless of religious beliefs and practices. Everyone was welcome to attend. In small groups, I discovered I was not so different than anyone else there. No one had ALL the answers. We were all seeking.
In the Alpha videos we saw people giving personal witness to the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives and how it changed them… some, in very profound ways. As we got to know each other, we soon began to share our thoughts and experiences quite freely. And I saw changes in others in the group as I’m sure they did also in
me, as we all opened up and shared and as we began to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. We prayed together, we prayed for each other, and we grew closer to each other and to God. We are all still close and I know I have friends there for life. On a personal level, my faith was
renewed and deepened. I have learned when I pray, to include “listening” in the process, to slow down and to listen and to experience and recognize and trust HIS influence and voice in my life. My faith journey has been a roller coaster… and I guess that’s normal… but I’ve turned the controls over to Jesus, so it’s all good. I am a work in progress… and always will be and, that, too is good.
I encourage everyone to give Alpha a try… at least once.
Come and see what it’s all about… you don’t know what you may be missing… or by sharing and caring how you might help someone else with their journey.
God Works Through Others — Mary Mona Bottomley
A couple of years ago, I decided to sign up for an Alpha course at St Thomas More parish as I was trying to decide how to reacquaint myself with my faith.
The night before class was to begin, I was driving to Halifax with my husband and I told him I did not think I would go to the Alpha course as I knew absolutely no one there and it was outside my comfort zone.. Then, my cell phone rang. It was Nora Muise calling to check in with me and to let me know that she knew I was vegetarian and wanted to check to see if what she had prepared for my meal the first night at Alpha would be okay. I was completely stunned that this woman I had never met would be so considerate of my needs. I decided then and there that I would go to the first session the next night. It was the best decision I ever made.
I met so many wonderful people and felt completely welcomed and at ease with all group discussions. I told Nora she was instrumental in saving me. I truly believe that God had intervened and was calling me back to my faith. There at Alpha I met a new friend, Charlene Meade. She was then and continues to be my inspiration. I call her my “soul sister” as she really played a hand in leading me back to Christ. She encouraged me to start attending church services with her on Sunday and do the Bible Timeline Study. I have never looked back.
I know that Our Lord works in mysterious ways and he sent these two ladies to help me find my way back to Him I so look forward to continuing my journey with our Lord. I can’t get enough of Him now. I love all the opportunities you provide your parishioners through Facebook and Zoom to continue our journey with Christ. I am, without doubt, a much happier person now that I am on the right journey.
The Hands of God — Mary Durant
The sunlight was so bright that morning, through the altar windows. I could only see the outline of Father Anthony as he welcomed the congregation. He was enveloped by beautiful rays of light. My cousin calls that the Hands of God. I smiled, thinking how appropriate it was. That morning, my friend was being officially welcomed into our parish family.
As I listened to the Mass, I found myself reflecting on my own time in this parish. I was baptised here. I received my first communion here. I was confirmed here. And then, I strayed away from this parish and the whole concept of the Church. My own spiritual journey has taken many twists and turns. Over the years, I have had so many questions, doubts and a profound and painful void in my heart.
That morning, I found myself absorbed in the Eucharist being prepared. I was trying to welcome into my heart and understand in my mind that this was the Source and the Summit of my life as a child of God. I found myself mindlessly tracing the cross on the outside of the pew, over and over. I remembered being a little girl, tracing the same cross on the outside of the same pew but being lost in the pageantry of it all. I thought it was all something above me, beyond me, not for me to understand. I was just me, after all. A little girl with doubts and unanswered questions.
It was then in that very moment that it occurred to me the magnitude of what I was experiencing. It did not matter that I had strayed because I had questions about where I belonged. It did not matter that I did not understand or that I had felt lost. What did matter was that on that morning, the Hands of God were reaching down to me, embracing me, guiding me and lovingly holding me in His heart. That painful void was gone. I did not feel lost anymore.
I was exactly where I needed to be.
My Testimony — Anonymous
I was raised as a Catholic. At home I was taught to say my evening prayers and the grace before meals. I went to mass every Sunday and on Days of Obligation. I did not eat meat on Fridays, and I gave up candy for Lent.
I attended Catholic schools and a Catholic university. I was taught by nuns during my entire educational experience and I received catechism lessons daily. I learned to be afraid of God because He was always watching me, and He would punish me gravely for my sins. Any misfortune or illness that I had was a punishment for my sins.
The problem for me, I now see, was that my faith was based on a fear of God’s condemnation not on His love for me. As a result, as I grew older, I was participating in a culture of negativity while trying to be “a good person”.
I rebelled. By the time that I was in my mid-twenties God was absent in my life and I was absent in His, so I ended my association with the Church. However, if questioned I would profess to believe in God and I still identified myself as a Catholic. I knew that I was in a “no-where land” and that I needed time to discover and process Truth. That was to be a very long journey!
It was my own very young daughters who got me back into a church building for a time. At ages eight and seven they asked me if I would please take them to church. I took them to Sunday Masses at St. Peter’s in Dartmouth. Then we moved to Cole Harbour and at ages ten and nine the girls asked they could be baptized as Catholics. Father Martin Currie baptized them during a pre-Christmas mass thirty years ago.
For a couple of years we did live as a Catholic family much in the same way that I had been raised. We went to Mass together and the girls attended catechism lessons. However, once again, God was more absent than He was present in our day-to-day lives and we slowly drifted away from the Church and from our faith. For close to thirty years I became divorced from my Catholic faith and practice.
Two years ago my journey back to a meaningful relationship with my Creator, my Saviour and my Divine Inspiration began. I know that I was blessed with the presence of the Holy Spirit within my mind and my soul. On one day I felt compelled to dig out my old Catholic missal and to start reading the Gospels. I heard an encouraging voice within me urging me to read and to meditate. I could feel the joy of discovery and renewal welling up inside of me.
I began to pray thanking God for all of His blessings and asking Him to bless me with a deeper understanding of His Word and His mysteries with hope and trust and with the courage to act upon my new beliefs.
By reading the Gospels I became aware of the Father’s and Christ’s love for me. They were no longer the God Who tolerated me, but a welcoming, merciful and forgiving God. I was joyful!
… For the past thirteen months or so I have become an active believing member of the Roman Catholic Church. During these months I have experienced great joy which I celebrate with thanksgiving to God. I have truly been blessed!
My journey of salvation continues as I pray, have conversations with Jesus, and read Pope Francis, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Augustine. I have a long way to go, I know, but with each day I understand more and more about each Divine Person of The Holy Trinity. I understand now so much more of what Christ has asked of me.
Seeing the Lord — Anonymous
During my teen years I felt a calling to be a Disciple of Jesus. However, I didn’t want to preach the Gospel and I rejected his promptings. Then as a young adult I had a mental health issue. After spending six weeks in the hospital and on my arrival home my brother arranged for a job interview at the Telephone company for me the next day. Naturally, I didn’t succeed in getting the job but that day while walking to the Mall I came across a man sitting beside the sidewalk. As I approached, he calls out – “Hey Mister, got enough for a coffee.” I pulled 38 cents out of my pocket and showed him that is all I had. He said: “Better than nothing”. I gave him my money and I went on my way. Ever since I remembered that encounter and later on, I realized that I had seen the Lord in that person. Ever since that day, the Lord always provided for me and from that time on I wanted to be a disciple of Jesus. Even up to the present day, I experience the Lord’s presence in my life every day by the little things that happen in my life. I am forever grateful as I am learning each day the new things that the Lord is teaching me. Someday, I hope that leading by my example, others will become disciples of Jesus, too.
What is it to be a disciple of Jesus? One has to learn to follow the Lord and keep his commandments. It is not what a person does for the Lord but listening and obedience to the Lord are the key to his heart and favor.