I was born and grew up in a kampong in the Upper Serangoon Road area. In my time, it was a common practice for many families to be professing two different faiths and practise ancestral worship. This was what I faced in my growing up years.

My maternal grandmother was a Christian as she had her own network of close friends and relatives who were already practising Christians when they migrated from China. Some of my siblings and I had the privilege of tagging along with her to attend Sunday services, Christmas celebrations and the occasional weddings. At these outings, I noticed that the people were generally more polite, friendly, compassionate and helpful whereas those in my kampong were usually quarrelsome, gossipy, rude and vulgar. Fighting and gambling were also quite common in those days.

Seeds of Faith Planted

From this early childhood Christian experience, I became more aware of religion and wanted to explore and know more about Jesus.  But we were a typical Chinese traditional family which perceive Christianity as being too westernised and would lead to an erosion of Asian values and filial piety. To add to this, I had a domineering father and paternal grandmother who were firmly against any of their offspring deviating from their traditional Chinese religious beliefs and ancestral worship.  But this did not prevent me from visiting Novena church in my late teens to pray, especially that I would do well for my various examinations.

Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour

A Good Samaritan in Reggie

The turning point came when a very good and close friend, David, was suddenly diagnosed with brain cancer. He died within 4 months. During David’s brief stay in the ICU at SGH, I witnessed the selfless devotion and exemplary conduct of Reggie, a cradle Catholic and one of David’s close friends. Despite her busy schedule as a money broker and mother to three young school-going children, Reggie often visited David in the hospital and constantly prayed for him. She also brought me and some close friends to Novena and for Sunday mass to pray for David.

During David’s final days, he slipped in and out of consciousness. Reggie asked and David agreed, by nodding his head, to be baptised. A few days after David’s baptism, he passed away. Once again, Reggie went about selflessly arranging for prayers and David’s funeral. It was close to Holy Week. Many priests were unavailable. Still Reggie managed to find a priest, Fr James Yeo, to conduct David’s funeral service.

Terence, one of our close friends, was very much inspired by Reggie’s deeds. He joined the RCIA and was baptised. I saw the transformation in Terence. He became a very caring and compassionate person after his baptism.

It is the Lord!

As I did not want to go against my family’s traditional religious beliefs, I attended the RCIA only after the passing away of my parents. I believe it was God who helped me make the right decision at the right time to preserve the peace and harmony in my large extended family. I have become a much better person and a good role model for the younger members in my extended family to emulate. I also want to be an example for them that one is never too old to embrace the Catholic faith and be baptised.

It was the Lord who led me to join the RCIA and embark on my journey to become a Catholic. I felt that the RCIA experience has satisfied me intellectually and spiritually and reaffirmed my decision to join the Church. With all that I have experienced so far, I pray that my faith will continue to grow for the rest of my life.

Praise the Lord for His goodness! May God bless all of you.

Peter Seah
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