Cooking is a passion I developed from my mother. I currently serve in the Kitchen & Service Ministry at Catholic Spirituality Centre (CSC) following a very real, personal encounter with God during a CSC retreat.
In my early youth, I had various faith experiences and tried a few Protestant churches. I lived a worldly life, often partying late into the night. I enjoyed hosting and cooking for guests, basking in their attention and praise.
All of this really only began to change later on in life.
Jerome Chang (right) with volunteers at Catholic Spirituality Centre
My wife Roseline has played a huge part in my conversion. We got married only after 11 years. A large part why the courtship took so long was because I kept pulling her away from the Church, and she kept going back. Being a Protestant, I struggled a lot with the Catholic faith. Little did I know, Roseline was praying for my conversion.
Another group which made an impact in my faith journey was some St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s alumni who invited me to play football with them. I noticed that before every game, they would gather to say a prayer. They were competitive individuals and I could never imagine them coming together to pray. I started to realise that the faith they shared, anchored them.
Later, some of them invited me to a Bible study group at the Church of St Ignatius, Little Rock, and I decided that it could not hurt and began to go. After a year and a half, I began feeling inquisitive and thought about joining RCIA. A couple of them offered to be my sponsors, and eventually I was baptised in 2006.
At this point, I was married and had my first son. One day as I dropped my son at church, he asked me why he needed to go church. I remember telling him that it was about morals, and that he had to learn right from wrong.
He then asked why I wasn’t there at church. That really impacted me and I made it a point to start going to church. I struggled but eventually, it became part of me, and that was when I decided to make it a commitment to go for Mass weekly.
Throughout this entire process, I felt the Lord’s hands guiding and directing me to come to Him.
I experienced His unconditional love in spite of my sinfulness, and His healing of my past hurts. This was my life changing moment.
I then had my own personal encounter with God when I attended the Conversion Experience Retreat. I had a very real, personal encounter with the Lord, and experienced His unconditional love in spite of my sinfulness, and His healing of my past hurts. This was my life changing moment.
Grateful for all He has done, I began offering up my service and talents. I was prompted to serve in CSC. But I was not sure which ministry I could give back to the Lord.
At the subsequent Prayer Experience Retreat, we used Ignatian contemplation to immerse ourselves in a biblical scene. I reﬂected on Jesus’ healing of a blind man, Bartimaeus, by the road outside Jericho. I was drawn to the vivid sight of live chickens being held by His entourage. As I wondered about its meaning, I saw Jesus dusting sand off His sandals at the front doors of CSC. He then sat down at the dining table and gestured for me to cook Him a meal.
This, to me, was a clear sign that the kitchen was my calling.
This sharing was first published on the Catholic News.