Johnny was a Pentecostal when he married his wife, Josephine, in 1978. Since then, his wife, who is a cradle Catholic, has brought him to Masses at various churches. “It was how she introduced the Catholic faith to me,” said Johnny , 65, adding that he continued to attend services in a Pentecostal church.
Despite accompanying his wife to attend Masses for more than 20 years, Johnny, who is retired, shared that he did not feel “a call” to join the Catholic Church. It was only during Ascension Mass in 2016 at the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea that he felt drawn to Catholicism.
“I was really inspired by the homily of Fr Greg and there was something about the church that really struck and appealed to me,” he said. Fr Gregoire van Giang is the parish priest of the church.
After that Mass, Johnny saw the RCIA announcement in the bulletin and “knew that he was being called by the Lord to join.”
During the early days in his RCIA journey, he was also invited to join the Teochew rosary group in the Neighbourhood Christian Community (NCC) by Fr Stanislaus Pang, spiritual director of the RCIA ministry.
“I was not very fluent in my Teochew so I had my doubts initially. But with Fr Pang and my wife’s encouragement, I plucked up the courage to join,” said Johnny.
Joining the group not only improved Johnny’s Teochew, but “more importantly, it allowed me to appreciate the meaning behind the rosary, what the words meant and the importance of Mother Mary in the Catholic faith,” he said.
He shared that the main challenge he faced during his RCIA journey was understanding the role of Mary.
With help from his RCIA sponsor; his wife, who would accompany him to sessions; and members of the Teochew rosary prayer group, Johnny said that his doubts were soon cleared and he is now “close to Mary, constantly asking her for intercessions.”
Johnny says he now prays the rosary with his wife twice a day, once in English and once in Teochew. He also attends daily Mass followed by adoration. He hopes to live out his Catholic faith by spreading “the good news and evangelising to others.
“We have a Feed the Hungry project in the church that caters to the needy, so I hope to volunteer there as well visit residents of homes and shelters,” he shared.