An Interview with Adam Soos

This month, I am sitting with Adam Soos, our new Children, Youth and Young Adult Ministry Coordinator at St. Bonaventure Parish.  His story shows his passion to serve Christ by serving the youth of our parish.
We’re lucky to have him!

L:  Can you tell me about yourself?
A:  My name is Adam Soos.  I went to St. Mary’s University College.  I graduated with a major in english and a minor in political science.  Since then, I was a social worker for two years, which gave me quite a bit of experience working with families.  If parents didn’t have custody of their children, I would pick the children up and take them for visits with their parents and their families, supervise the visits and bring them back afterwards.  So I gained experience in dealing with families in some tough social situations.  Then I actually joined a former classmate to do some political calling and fundraising.  From this, we started a pro-life organization called the National Right to Live Committee of Canada, which I am currently the Executive Director.  I’ve also recently started here at St. Bonaventure Parish as the Children, Youth and Young Adult Ministry Coordinator.

In addition, I’ve recently married my wife, Caroline, (about three months ago).  She was the Youth Ministry Coordinator at Holy Spirit Parish.  So I have quite a bit of youth ministry experience from helping her with her ministry.

L:  How long have you been involved in youth ministry?
A:  This is my first position in youth ministry, but I’ve been volunteering on and off for the past 5 years together with Caroline.

LHave you always been Catholic?
A:  Yes, I’ve always been Catholic.  I was born and raised  Catholic and went through all of the Sacraments with school.  My mom is French Canadian Catholic so I’ve certainly always been Catholic, but I haven’t always attended regularly.  I went to church and for a brief while I was uncertain.  I didn’t want to be that person who went to church if I didn’t believe exactly what it was and for a time I did struggle with what I believed.  I’ve always admired Jesus as an individual, I just wasn’t familiar with the Church’s teachings.  So I wasn’t sure what to do.  As I got older, I started coming back to it, and then meeting Caroline deepened my faith  experience.  There’s a quote: “a woman’s heart should be so hidden in Christ that a man should have to seek Him first to find her.” (quote by Maya Angelou).  This is the quote that sort of sums up my recommitment to the faith.  My faith is something that I’ve never completely went away from, but it’s something that I wanted to be sure about rather than just giving lip service to.

L:  What are some of the ways that your family encouraged your faith?
A:  My mom with her French Canadian Catholic background, just made it a part of our lives.  I wouldn’t say my family is particularly spiritual.  My mom attends Mass fairly regularly and my dad will join her (he’s not Catholic although we’re working on him!).  Our household was Catholic, but it wasn’t discussed a lot.  Although we certainly do now.  My mom always kept it a positive influence in the household.  She made it appealing but she never forced it on me and I’m grateful for that.  As a child I was told something and then it came to a point where I could decide if it is something that I believe in.  And I think because my mom gave me that, I can commit to my faith as an adult with a (partially) complete understanding.  I’m very interested in theology and I’ll read encyclicals and all of that stuff.

L:  How has the Catholic Mass influenced your life?
A:  It’s extremely significant.  When I was struggling and I would still go to Mass, I always felt a tranquility with it.  It was always a positive experience in my life and a time to reflect.  But now more than ever it’s gained significance.  The Mass is a constant reminder that somebody basically died in order that we can live a much better life and that we can be saved.  So it’s a very personal experience for me.  Particularly with the Eucharist.  It’s something that’s extremely binding.  It brings me to tears almost every time that I walk up.  It’s been a big influence in my life.  I’m sad that I didn’t have the Eucharist for a time in my life, but definitely something that I’m thankful to have in my life now.

L:  How have you been blessed by your Catholic faith?
A:  Countless ways!  I’ve had so many opportunities.  I’ve led a group to World Youth Day in Spain, which was a fantastic opportunity.  I’ve gone on mission trips.  One of the things that this has taught me is that you can get yourself all the things in the world but it doesn’t really mean that much.  These experiences have ignited in me a passion for service.  For example, in Peru, we were helping these people who had nothing to expand a school and they were so much happier than we were and they had absolutely nothing!  I would never have experienced any of this if it hadn’t been through channels within the Catholic Church.  And through the Sacraments.  They’ve been there throughout my life, but I’ve definitely gained a great appreciation for them.  With my wife, one of the reasons why I think we became so close was because of our faith and our Catholic community that was around us as well.  All the blessings that I’ve gained are pretty much endless!  While we were doing our marriage preparation program, someone asked us what our ideal jobs would be and I said I’d love to do pro-life organization work, maybe head up an organization or maybe work in a church.  And God, having a sense of humour, has allowed me to do both!

L:  Last question, do you have anything you’d like to say to the families of St. Bonaventure Parish as you begin your ministry here?
A:  Yes.  As Pope Francis said, there’s a need for saints, particularly in North America.  There’s so much secularism and materialism that the kids who are coming here (to St. Bonaventure Parish) are coming here for a reason.  They’re coming here because they know that there’s more and they want something different and I’m going to do the very best that I can not to disappoint them.  I think that these kids are potential saints.  This is an opportunity that if we don’t disappoint them, they can change the world.  That’s what I’m hoping for.

Thank you so much, Adam, for taking the time to share your experiences with us.
Welcome to St. Bonaventure Parish!


An Interview with Patrick

This month, I am sitting with Patrick, a young husband and father who is passionate about his faith and, together with his wife, strives to lead his family to walk  with God in their daily lives. 

L:  Can you tell me about yourself?
P:  I’m 30 years old, and the youngest of 5 children in what I like to call an “old school Irish Catholic” family. We moved around a few times growing up, with most of our family back east in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa – but Calgary is “home”. I’ve been married almost four years to my lovely wife and have a lovely three year old daughter who keeps me on my toes.

L:  Have you always been Catholic?
P:  I was blessed to have been raised in a very traditional Irish Catholic household. Which means we take church seriously, and pray when people die… Okay, a bit more than that. My family influenced my faith in teaching me about community, accountability, and the beauty of tradition & devotions, and having a safe place. One of my favourite things is that most of my childhood highlights are with my siblings and cousins. My parents made sure we were always connected to a bigger community, be it church choir, youth ministry, Irish community, etc. I think I learnt I’m never truly alone.

L:  Have you ever struggled with your faith?
P:  I always had a relationship with God in my life, but just like any “couple” (referring to Patrick and God), we’ve had our rocky moments. To be fair, it was mostly in University and generally caused by my selfishness and overindulgence in alcohol. I think I struggled to explain pain and suffering in my life and in the lives of those around me. Instead of carrying it with God and accepting his mercy, I just yelled at God. I think I learned from that time more than anything, the need to share my  struggles and seek community. I pulled away from family and friends and let my anger fester, which never helps.

LHow has the Mass influenced your life?
P:  Going to Mass has been a center point in my life. Even when things were rough, my parents and then my own will, pushed me to continue going. I can remember certain Sundays for sure where I felt close to giving up on some aspect of my life and the grace of the Eucharist gave me that strength to continue on. Mass is essential to my spiritual life; without the Eucharist what would sustain us? Christ present in each other, the Word, the Eucharist, and the priest. Where else can I so fully immerse myself in God?

L:  As a busy husband and father to a young family, how have you made your Catholic faith a priority in your life?
P:  I’d be lying if I said I got my rosary and hour of prayer in everyday. My Catholic faith has taken on a new dimension with children. But it has forced me to be intentional to create traditions and sacramental moments in my house that celebrate my faith. Evening prayer with my daughter with a kiss and “sleep with the angels” while giving her a cross on the forehead are sometimes the deepest prayers of my day. Realistically if I want to pray I need to get up before the rest of my family or stay up late (the former has a better track record). I appreciate my single life more now for the time it gave me to dive deep into my faith, create deep roots to sustain and form me to withstand the “chaos” that family sometimes is. To be honest, sharing faith stories with my wife, and with other men are key. It gives me shared understanding of where we are at, and with other men we hold each other accountable and offer encouragement to be the fathers, husbands, brothers and sons we’re called to be.

L:  What are some of the things you do to incorporate your Catholic faith into your family’s daily life?
P:  Evening prayer (especially as a family with music in Advent and Lent) are key moments. We try to celebrate the liturgical year and feast days well. In the words of St. Teresa of Avila. “When I fast, I fast.  When I feast, I feast”. It makes the faith seem real and integrated into our lives. We use the Saint of the Day for Kids App to teach the lives of Saints in a fun way to our daughter as well. But the main things are the basics, Mass together, expand our circle of friends in the faith community, and grace before meals.

L:  Do you have any advice you’d like to give to others in a similar situation?
P:  You don’t need to be perfect, you just need to try and get better everyday.  Also, as parents give yourselves an extra dose of patience, mercy and grace. Our parents didn’t have the internet, Pinterest, and millions of parenting books to help/curse us. Trust your experience, instincts, and the wisdom of others mixed into the reality of your lives. Be faithful in your effort and God will bless the results the way God requires. In my experience working with young people, being a witness to wonderful families and reading the research, two things are key – parents spend more time with your children, one way or another and don’t be afraid to be strong and set boundaries! Especially you, fellow dads!

Thank you so much, Patrick, for taking the time to share your experiences with us!

An Interview with Anne

This month, I am sitting with Anne Perry*, wife and mother to seven children.  As we sit surrounded by the friendly chaos of our children playing, Anne shares with me how she makes time for her spiritual life a priority and helps her family to do the same.
(*Name has been changed)

L:  Can you tell me about yourself?
A:  Well, my husband and I have been married for 16 years and we have seven children.  We have a large extended family so that’s had a big influence on our lives.  I’m a stay at home mom.    I was a teacher, but I didn’t teach for long (we wanted to have kids).  I might go back to teaching someday.  Our kids range from teens down to toddlers.

L:  Have you always been Catholic?
A:  Yes, born and raised, both my husband and I.  My parents were involved in the Catholic charismatic renewal at various points.  They were also very involved in our parish and did music ministry.  We lived walking distance from our parish church so I remember on Saturday mornings my parents saying “okay, you can do your chores today and go to Confession” so we’d walk over and go to Confession and it was our responsibility, which was nice.  My mom died when I was twelve years old though, so that made it harder.  We had a very nice Catholic loving family and then with this tragedy we had to learn how to live our faith.  I rebelled against my faith, not immediately but I guess I didn’t deal so well with the grief back then.    But when I was in grade twelve, I had a good experience.  I was part of a group where the kids were involved in their faith and we had time to talk.  It was a pretty ambitious program that we were doing and I remember saying to one of the kids “I think if I have the courage to do this, then I have the courage to go back and live my faith”.  This actually meant a whole change of friends.  I tried to keep my friends but it was difficult because of the way they lived and so they slowly they went by the wayside and I started living my Catholic faith.  I think it helped that I got a lot of formation from my parents.  But I really wish that I hadn’t gone through a time of rebellion, you know?

L:  How do you try to incorporate your Catholic faith into your family’s life?
A:  Well, we go to Mass every Sunday and we say grace (before meals) and bedtime prayers with the kids.  We’ve tried different catechism things with the kids.  My husband has actually started a new initiative inspired by the Year of Faith and it’s been really great.  Sunday nights is our family prayer time now and we open with prayer, with some singing, and then we have a family prayer time and then each week we read one chapter from the book “Life in Christ: a Catechism for Adult Catholics”.  It’s been good.  After, we have question time where my husband will ask a question and the kids get to share their knowledge.  Our kids like the knowledge aspect and we’re hoping that they’re growing in their own faith as well.

LDo you ever find it challenging to get to Mass?
A:  Well, we just don’t miss Mass unless it’s absolutely impossible for us to go.  If we’re travelling we go to a website and find out where Mass is ahead of time.  If there’s someone who’s sick, then we have to divide (the kids) so we can all go.  We’ve told our kids that it’s a mortal sin to miss Mass and that we feel pretty responsible to get them there.

L:  Have you ever had any struggles in your faith?
A:  Definitely.  In different stages different crises seem to come up.  The first one for me was my parent dying.  Different bits of disillusionment along the way.  I think my faith can be kind of childish sometimes and then I’m faced with a crisis and I have to survive it.  For example, miscarriages has been one of the things for us.  Even just my own sinfulness can get so tiring.  Then I have to go to Confession, do spiritual readings and prayer.  Sometimes I just feel like a beggar, begging for grace from God.  Sometimes I’m so aware that I can’t do it on my own, that it’s all a gift from God, but sometimes when I think that I can do it on my own, I think that’s when I get a crisis.

L:  How has the Catholic Mass influenced your life?
A:  I remember when I was in grade twelve and I had my conversion that I became aware of the action of the Holy Spirit in my life.  I remember the Gospel coming alive and actually hearing it, not fighting distraction all Mass.  The Holy Spirit must have been helping me because I could actually hear the Gospel and it would speak directly to me about what was happening in my life.  And, of course, the Eucharist is spiritual food.  When I don’t get to go to Mass, I notice a difference.  I also use a missalette so I can look at the daily readings of the Church in it and it has really enriched my prayer life.  Realizing the Collect, how ancient that is and the prayers of the Church, how rooted in tradition they are, it gives me a deep appreciation, you know?  I’m part of something way bigger than myself.  And it’s Jesus, and the whole family, all the angels and saints.  God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  And Mary.  This big family, and I’m part of it.  And Mass is this great celebration that I enter into with it.  It’s ancient and it’s current all at the same time!

L:  Do you have any advice you would like to offer to others who are in a similar situation as you?
A:  Well, when you have little kids, it’s not always easy.  But then I realized, once I didn’t have as many distractions from my little kids, that I could come up with enough distractions on my own!  Maybe (having little kids) is like training to learn how to focus with the distractions.  And then, just patience.  I think we need so much patience with our kids because they’re going through ages and stages and it will pass, you know?  And with ourselves, because we’re growing and changing.  Not that I’m good at having patience, but I’m aware that I just need to be patient and hang on.  God is bigger than I am and bigger than everything else that happens in my life.

Thank you so much, Anne, for taking the time to share your experiences with us!

An Interview with Fr. Cristino

This month, Fr. Cristino Bouvette, associate pastor of Holy Spirit Parish and also a previous seminarian at St. Bonaventure Parish.  Fr. Cris will share how important the Mass was in his discernment to the priesthood and his journey to finally becoming a priest. 

L:  Can you tell me about yourself?
Fr:  I’m the oldest of two children.  I was born and raised in Medicine Hat to my wonderful parents and I had a very normal upbringing.  My dad worked very hard outside of the home and my mom made the decision to stay at home to raise us, which I am very grateful for.  She ran a day home which meant that she brought many other children into our home.  So, while after my sister was born she was unable to have more children, it always felt like there were lots of kids in our family because there was always a house full of other people’s children.  Plus, both of my parents are from exceedingly large families.  Lots of cousins, lots of family members, and that’s all we really ever did was spend time with our family.

L:  Have you always been Catholic?
Fr:  Yes.  I was baptized 13 days after I was born and my parents made our faith practice just seem normal.  It was just what we did.  It was not overly fervent.  We were not what you would classify as ‘hard core’, but they taught us to pray, we prayed together as a family everyday, we’d go to Mass, we’d pray in the car on a long road trip.  It just seemed like anything else we did.  It was a very natural upbringing in the faith.  I never felt like our faith was forced on us and demanded of us.  Mind you, I also never really put up much of a fight.  For me it just never bothered me that we practiced our faith.

L:  How would you say going to Mass influenced your life?
Fr: I think I was probably a bit unique in that I loved going to Mass.  Always.  Since I was a little kid.  I found the Mass mysterious and beautiful.  And while I didn’t really comprehend, even until I was actually in the seminary, what was really going on at Mass, it was something deeply significant.  Without realizing it, the Mass began to become the pattern of my life.  I can’t say in what way going to Mass influence my life.  My life is what it is because of the Mass and the place that it held in my life.

LBeing a busy priest, with all of the duties and responsibilities that you have, what are some of the ways that you’ve been able to maintain your personal faith life?
Fr:  Someone once explained that priests are not called to greater holiness than anyone else, but we have a greater responsibility to become holy than everyone else because everyone else expects us set an example of holiness for them, whether they explicitly say that or not.  I can never regard my prayer life and my interior life as something that I need to hopefully have time for.  It needs to be my life and I need to make sure that everything else in my life fits in around it.  I have to be very meticulous in planning how I’m going to live out my spiritual life on a day to day basis.  I can’t wake up and say “I’m going to make sure I pray today”.  I need to make sure that I have the times at which I’m going to pray planned and that when it’s time for prayer, I pray.  I don’t get to it if I’m not occupied by something else.  I’m not always successful at living that way, but it has to be what I strive towards.  Otherwise, it would be the first thing to go by the wayside.  The temptation not to pray is probably greater for priests because priests are busy hearing Confession, giving spiritual council, anointing the sick, celebrating the Holy Mass.  At the end of the day, a priest can say “my day was full of all sorts of holy things” and not feel so bad about not having any time to pray.  But those things will become less and less holy to the priest who celebrates them without prayer in his life.  Then they become a job.  And if the priesthood ever becomes (a priests) job, then he’s in big trouble.

L:  Can you tell me about how you discerned to become a priest?
Fr: I have always sensed I would become a priest.  Since I was very young I wanted to, and I was faced with different opinions on that.  Most people tried to discourage it.  My parents were very neutral and never endorsed one thing or the other.  They always told me to pray to know God’s will and do what I thought would make me happy.  They never indicated what they thought that should be.  My grandfather clearly indicated that I needed to become a priest.  And I appreciated his boldness in saying that to me because it never left me.  My journey to the priesthood was always one of hoping to get away from it, realizing it was there, and hoping to someday realize that I didn’t have to become a priest.  I really wanted a family and having had only one younger sister, I’d always dreamed of having a large a family, and hopefully finding a wife who also desired the same.  I went to the seminary for the sake of being able to tell the Lord “See, I tried the seminary and it just wasn’t for me!” But the more time that I spent in the seminary, the more difficult it was to leave.  There was never a good reason to leave other than that I just didn’t want to become a priest, which I knew was just selfish.  I didn’t have a reason from God that I wasn’t supposed to become a priest.  Finally I just said that I need to get over my selfishness and say “Lord, if You want me to be a priest, help me want to become a priest”.  That was a terrifying prayer!  But I prayed it and He answered it.  And my heart began to see that not only did I need to become a priest, I longed for it.  It was actually the only thing that would satisfy me, including and especially the celibacy.  This was not a sacrifice that I was going to be willing to make, it was actually how I was created, to desire it and want it and be most fulfilled in it.  When I was finally ordained, I realized that for the first time in my life, I was actually the person I was created to be and had not been yet.

L:  Do you have any advice you can offer to others in a similar situation?
Fr:  First of all, to families I would say treat vocations to the religious life with naturalness.  Let that option for your children seem just normal, that they should consider it just as they would consider marriage because of the good example that you set in your marriage.  Children should learn the value and sanctity of marriage from just watching their parents live it, not because their parents need to remind them to think of getting married.  But parents need to remind their children to think about the possibility that God is calling them to the priesthood or religious life.  To people who are discerning a call to the religious consecrated life, or to a life of single professionalism, I think they need to be open to taking risks and realizing that we have to step out in faith.  The greatest obstacle that I’m finding in young people discerning the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood, religious life, or a single life is that they’re waiting for clarity.  I really believe that ‘clarity’ is nothing more than asking God to make us not need to have faith.  We can never expect clarity because clarity is only ever realized in hindsight.  We need to move forward in faith, with courage and confidence that God is always directing our path so long as we remain near to him in prayer.

Thank you so much, Fr. Cristino, for taking the time to share your experiences with us!

An Interview with Breanna

This month, I am interviewing Breanna, a wife and mother to a large family.    Her journey is a beautiful testimony to making Jesus a priority in her daily life, amidst the ins and outs of raising a family. 

L:  Can you tell me about yourself?
B:  Well, I’m married and I have lots of kids (two hands to count).  So I have a big family, and I’ve been married for almost twenty years.  My husband works and I stay home with them (the kids) so I can be there when they’re home, for whatever they need.  My kids ages range from teenagers down to infant.

L:  Have you always been Catholic?
B:  Yes, I’ve always been Catholic, but my family didn’t always go to Church when I was growing up.  My parents baptized me.  My mom was Catholic, but my dad isn’t.  I think it was just the thing you do, right?  And she had good intentions.  But they didn’t go to Church.  I think it was too hard.  I remember going to Church when I was little and being extremely bored, and probably complaining about having to go.  And so my mom just gave up over time. But we did go to Catholic school and we had all of the Sacraments through the system.  I look back on this as a blessing because when I started to question, it was somewhere to start from.  Looking back I don’t think I learned a lot of good Catholicism in school, but I got used to having Crucifixes on the wall and stuff like that, you know?

L:  So at what point did your Catholic faith become more a part of your life?
B:  Well, when I was in high school, I had a friend and her family always went to Church every Sunday. I became close with her family and if I was there on a Sunday, I had to go with them.  And so I did.  I also started to become involved in the Pro Life movement, and through that the bigger picture started to unfold for me.  I started to think Ishould be more serious about “What do I think?”.  I wasn’t necessarily thinking the Catholic Church, but I thought if I wanted to have a relationship with God, then I should probably do something about it.  The Catholic Church seemed like a good place to start.

L:  How has going to the Catholic Mass been an influence in your life?
B:  It’s changed my life!  It’s like air.  At first starting to go to Mass, I went most Sundays.  But when I started going seriously it felt good to know I was doing something I should be doing.  And now that I understand more the grace that’s involved, for me going to Mass is like air.  I’m not good with words, but it’s as important, or more important than eating.  It’s how I can do the things I’m supposed to do during the day.  God gives me his grace so that I can do the things that I do.  I rely on the Mass now.

L:  As a busy wife and mother of a large family, how do you find to spend with God during your day?
B:  I find the time because when I don’t find the time, there’s a difference.  I know the downside.  When I don’t spend some time in prayer, when I don’t go to Mass, I feel it.  By the end of the day, I’ve been very busy.  A normal day is busy.  But at the end of the day, that’s all it’s been is a very busy day.  But if I take some time for God, because I know he’s there waiting for me to just say hello, if I do that then at the end of a busy day, something good has come out of that day.  Because God has been with me throughout that day.  My house looks the same either way, but there is a difference internally.

L:  How do you try to incorporate your Catholic faith into the lives of your family?
B:  We always pray at meals and at bedtime.  And we talk about current events, things that come up in the news, things the kids bring home from school, questions the kids have, things that are going on in the lives of their friends’ families.  We try to make it a natural part of our daily lives.  We go to Mass together and we try to pray the rosary, although that (the rosary) is usually not a consistent thing.  But we try to make our faith a natural part of our lives.  God is always there.  So if we’re talking about other people, maybe something that someone did that was really bad, God would have mercy on that person, so the thing wasn’t good but we can see how God could work through it.

 L:  Do you have any advice you can offer to others in a similar situation?
B:  I would suggest going to other women you admire because why invent the wheel? And asking for their experience.  Something I struggle with is order.  I’m not very organized, even though people always say I’m so organized (it’s because I have a big family).  But trying to be organized makes a huge difference, because then there’s time for God and time for having supper on time, and laundry to get done and kids to get driven to places and all the other things.

Thank you so much, Brianne, for taking the time to share your experiences with us!

Interview with Mary and Joe

This newsletter seeks to offer a glimpse into the lives of different families and individuals as they endeavour to make the Sunday Mass a priority in their lives.  This month, I am interviewing Mary* and Joe* O’Leary, a newly married couple who are committed to having God be at the center of their marriage.  They have only been married for 5 months, and so they have a lot to learn, but they have willingly shared what is working in their marriage so far. 

L:  Can you tell me a little bit about yourselves?
J:  Well, I’m 25 years old and I’m the oldest of three boys.
M:  I’m also 25 years old and I have one younger brother.  I’ve been Catholic my whole life.
J:  Me, too.  I’m from the Eastern right, but I’ve been around the block (chuckle).
M:  I’m a youth minister.
J:  And I work for the Church, too.  I’ve been married to Mary for a little over five months.

L:  So, you’ve both said you’ve been Catholic your whole life?
J:  Yes, but I did go against my faith for a couple of years, when I was in high school mostly.  I lost my faith when I was there, especially the last 2 years.  I had a major conversion experience right out of high school and again after university.
M:  I guess for me, I would pray and go to Church but I didn’t fully know how real God is until I went to the Family Life Conference.  There was priest there talking about prayer and he said that when you pray you thank God or ask him things, but then you listen.  I thought that was the craziest thing I ever heard in my life!  What do you mean you listen?  He talked about quieting yourself and contemplating and meditating on the name of Jesus and pushing distractions away to open yourself to hear whatever God might want to tell you in your heart.  So I did that every night before bed.  I kept trying to picture God’s face, but I couldn’t so I would think of a starry sky.  And then one night I Jesus’ face popped into my mind and I felt full of joy and I started laughing and I felt God saying to me “I love you and I have a special something for you.”  And from then I knew that Jesus is real.  He’s not just somewhere up in the sky. He actually wants to know me.  I was in grade ten when this happened.

L:  As a young married couple, what has your experience of blending your faith life together been like ?
J:  It’s been crazy.  I am more used to taking the Liturgy of the Hours and going off to pray by myself every morning and night and so far I haven’t figured out how to work this into married life completely.  We do pray together every night before bed, when we have meals together, before we go driving somewhere, sometimes intermittently together.  And of course we go to Mass together.  But it is different for me.  As a single guy I was used to being able to pray when I wanted to.
M:  I think it (praying together) is definitely something we’re not good at yet.  One think I like, though, is that we always pray together before we drive.  That’s a neat time because sometimes when we’re talking about something or worried about something then we’ll pray about it together before we drive.  I find that’s the most intimate prayer because we don’t want to die on the road! (laughs) so we pray for our driving.
J:  We both don’t like driving!  We’re both new drivers (laughs)
M:  It is hard.  For me, I like to pray by myself in silence.  I’ll do group prayer but I find I’m more distracted when I’m praying with other people.  It is a challenge.  One think I like is when we go to bed a half an hour before going to sleep and then I can pray and Joe can pray silently but we’re together.
J:  And then usually before we fall asleep we’ll pray together.  One of the things that helps us is that we don’t have a TV in our home and so it’s one less distraction for us.

L:  How has your life been influenced by the Catholic Mass?
M:  For myself, I’m very easily distracted and I’m not an auditory learner.  There’s so many times that (our priest) will be doing the homily and I’ll be thinking “What were any of the three readings?” and then he’ll mention something about the readings that I did remember hearing and I’ll think “Yay!”.  I found the Mass was difficult for me to understand but when I went to university I started going to daily Mass and then when I missed Mass, I realized it was no longer like a chore.  If I miss Mass, my day just doesn’t feel right.  Through this experience I realized the value of the Mass.
J:  I had a similar experience when I went to university.  I can say now as a working man that it was a lot easier in university to go to daily Mass.  When you’re a working person, there isn’t always the opportunity to go everyday.  Things come up that don’t allow for it all the time.

L:  Do you have any advice that you would give to others experiencing similar situations as you have experienced?
J:  For other newly married couples, I would say to make prayer a priority in your life.  I don’t think you can really live out the sacrament of marriage fully if you don’t pray together at all as a couple, if you don’t have Christ as the centre of your relationship in one way or another.  I would say that we don’t have our act together completely.  We’re still figuring things out.  But I would say start somewhere, do something.  Try things, see what works.
M:  One think I find helpful is to confess things to each other, the things I would say in confession.  To have open communication and forgiving each other.

Thank you so much, Mary and Joe for taking the time to share your experiences with us!

An Interview with Isaac

This newsletter seeks to offer a glimpse into the lives of different families and individuals as they endeavour to make the Sunday Mass a priority in their lives.  This month, I am interviewing Isaac Jogues*, a young man in his 30’s who strives to live his life as a single person by offering his time in service and prayer to glorify God.
(*Name has been changed)

L:  Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
I:  Well, I’m almost 31 years old and I’ve been Catholic for almost eleven years.  I went to the seminary for a couple of years and discerned that was not where I was supposed to be, so I left.  Now I live single and do the the same stuff that the rest of us do.

L:  Can you tell me about your journey to becoming Catholic?
I:  My journey to becoming Catholic began with my journey of becoming Christian.  My grandfather is a very devout Christian (Protestant, actually). I converted to Christianity when I was about 15 years old after having talks with my grandfather over the summers.  About a year after that when I was in high school, I started going to an Evangelical church.  My family started going too.  None of us used to go to Church, but now my parents still attend the Evangelical Church.  When I was in grade twelve, I started talking about Christianity with my physics professor.  He was a Catholic so I figured I’d try to save him.  And this worked out really well for me!  (In that he first introduced me to the Catholic faith).  He had a lot of answers about the history of the Church, something that was important to me.  I started to attend Mass at St. Patrick’s Church and met Fr. Keith there.  He explained tons of stuff that I had questions about.  He was very good and spent a lot of time talking with me.  He gave me a book called “Rome Sweet Home” by Scott Hahn, which I read in an evening.  Then I went back to the Church and borrowed a Catechism (of the Catholic Church).  From there I joined the RCIA.  It was a long process, but two years later when I was 20 years old, I became Catholic.

 L:  As a single person working full time, how do you incorporate your Catholic faith into your day?
I:  I try to incorporate it into my life as much as possible.  I try to do morning and evening prayer from the Office (a traditional Catholic prayer).  I try to pray a Rosary each day as well.  I find a good time to do this is on my walk to the train station on my way to work.  And of course I go to Sunday Mass.  I moved parishes recently and so I’m not currently involved in ministry, but this is something I hope to get back into.

L:  How has your life been influenced by the Catholic Mass?
I:  A lot.  There’s a certain level of understanding of grace that I had as a Protestant, but I find the Mass completes all of the questions I had.  The Mass is the epitome of Scripture; there’s so much in the Mass that is directly from the Gospels.  Each time I go to Mass, it reminds me of the sacrifice that Christ made for us.  And not just the negative connotations of his suffering, but the positive connotations that his suffering leads to Resurrection.  Both are necessary.  I find sometimes we look to the Resurrection before we’ve gone to the Cross.  We give ourselves great struggles because we don’t allow ourselves to go through the Cross.  When I became Catholic, I found that I understood what love is in a new way when I looked at love in the context of the Cross.  I knew a man who told his daughters to never marry a man that you’re not willing to obey, and to his sons he would point to the Crucifix and say they have to love their wife that much.

L:  Have you ever struggled with your faith?
I:   (Laughing).  Tons!  The Church is a massive institution.  That alone can make things difficult.  People talk about the Church as being holy, but it’s one thing to say the Church is holy and another thing to see some of the really unholy people who live in it.  And then to say that the Church is holy?  For me, it was a great struggle to reconcile the two.  It took me a while to understand that the Church is holy because God made it holy, but people can do what people can do.  People still have free will and can still do evil things.  And to have faith that God can work within all this was a struggle for me.  I also struggled with Mary a lot too.  It’s a sort of mountain to get over when your a former Protestant, praying to Saints and to Mary.  Even when I believed it intellectually, it took a while to pray the Rosary and other Marian devotions.  But once I realized that Mary will pray for me and will lead me to her Son, Jesus, and that’s all she wants to do, it was much easier.  We’re not worshipping her.

L:  Do you have any advice that you would give to others experiencing similar situations as you have experienced?
I:  I think my best advice for single people is that our calling can be a calling of service.  I used to feel quite isolated, but as a single person I have so much free time, so I try to help out the people in my life as much as possible by taking care of kids, or helping people move.  I think it’s a healthy part of the vocation because it gets you out of being alone by yourself all of the time.  You can use your extra time from not having a spouse and kids to help others.  That’s the biggest thing that I’ve found helpful.

 Thank you so much, Isaac for taking the time to share your experiences with us!