“Through the RCIA, I learned to let my pride down and be more understanding of the needs of my family,” shared Ethan Tan, 29, adding that the programme “has allowed me to trust people better, to be more accepting of them.”

Ethan, currently doing his doctorate in Material Sciences and Engineering, said the RCIA journey has made him “more dependent on God and less on himself” and credited the Bible as his main source of strength to “focus on love and service of others”.

He had struggled with family issues in his late teens. There was little communication at home, recalled Ethan, who has two younger brothers and a sister.

Ethan also struggled with relationships with the opposite sex. “I had difficulty understanding the meaning of love because society bombards us with so many ideas of what love is or what it should be,” he said.

In his junior college days, a Catholic friend invited him to the Church of the Holy Family and Ethan shared that he felt “relief and inspiration” upon attending Mass.

He signed up for the RCIA programme in 2007 seeking answers to his troubles but left after three sessions as he felt that what he learnt there “wasn’t relevant and couldn’t be applied to life. It was too idealistic.”

After completing national service, Ethan left to pursue his degree overseas in 2010. He shared that his relationship with his family was still sour and that he “left on bad terms.”

He spent seven years in the US, UK and Germany. There, he said he lived a “secular life”. Ethan returned to Singapore in January 2016. However, he experienced another challenge as a relationship he was in failed a few months later.

During this time, a friend invited him to attend Mass at Holy Family Church again. It was then that he “picked up the courage to join the RCIA again. This time, I entered with an open mind and heart,” he said.

Although he had his reservations at first, Ethan said he learnt to “shift his focus to God and not to myself”.

He also began attending Novena sessions to learn the role Mary plays in the faith. “I learnt that she is our advocate and why Catholics place such a huge emphasis on her.”

Ethan’s relationship with his family subsequently improved. “I was able to open up and communicate with them a lot better. I can now share about my personal issues and so can my parents with me,” beamed Ethan.

As to how he plans to live out his Catholic faith after baptism, Ethan shared that he hopes to be a sponsor in the RCIA one day but is still “discerning and praying”.

This story was first published in the Catholic News.
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