Read these stories about how lives have been changed by Jesus in our community this year.

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. 

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