Rajesh Nayak waited 20 years for his baptism, which will take place on Easter. He met the faith when he was very young, but his parents’ opposition prevented him from converting. Through Christian adult initiation he really learnt to pray. "Before I did not know which god I was addressing,” he said.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – "When I went to the parish priest to ask for a letter for the adult catechism initiation course, he and all the priests were surprised that the letter was from me. They had always thought I was a Catholic,” said Rajesh Nayak, a Hindu Brahmin who converted to Christianity after 20 years of marriage.
His conversion began when he was very young after meeting a Christian teacher, he told AsiaNews. Having Catholic friends and classmates helped, but his wife’s great love did it. “She never complained, but always prayed for me." He now looks forward to his baptism, on Easter Vigil. Here is his story.
This is a testimony of my journey of faith. I am Rajesh Nayak, born in a Hindu Brahmin family and the only child to my parents. My first encounter with the Catholic faith came at the tender age of three and half years. It so happened that my mother was on her way to get me enrolled in a Marathi medium school in our area, that’s when this lady by the name of Mrs. Janet Kaunds (a Protestant) met my mom. Mrs. Kaunds was a teacher at St. John the Evangelist High School, Marol (Mumbai) and was staying in the same building. She spoke to my mother and got me enrolled in her school.
Mrs. Kaunds had no children of her own and I used to go to school with her and soon I was known as Kaunds’s teacher’s son in the school. She was more than a mother to me and I started spending all my time with her at her place. I started going to school with her and also to church along with her. Their mass used to be mostly in Kanada and a bit of English. I also started celebrating all their festivals. My neighboring area where I was staying was a village (Gaothan) full of East Indian Catholics, so most of my friends were Catholics and same was at school, since it was a Catholic school.
In college, I fell in love with my best friend’s sister. They were Roman Catholics. My future wife wanted a church wedding, so we attended the marriage course. I was only non-Catholic at that course in a group of 60 odd people. The parish priest at that time told me that I must get converted if we wanted a proper church wedding. I was ready for it, but when I told this to my parents, they were not at all happy with this development. though they did not tell me openly but I could make out. so, I told my to be wife that I cannot get converted now, but I promised her one day I surely will.
In the year 1995 we got married. We had a church wedding but it was a special mass. In 1998 our daughter was born, again that time I thought of getting converted but my parents were against getting our daughter baptized. So, I did not get converted but our daughter was baptized. In the year 2003 our second daughter was born, again, I was facing the same problem as I faced during my first daughter. Being the only child, I did not want to hurt my parents.
As our children grew, they had their first holy communions and they used to think, why does dada not go for communion during the mass and all their friend’s parents used to go. I used to feel bad that they must face this situation because of me. All this while my wife never complained nor did she lose hope. In the year 2006 my dad passed away and in the year 2014 my mom passed away. now I decided it was time for me to get converted. (Now I understand it was Jesus who had called me in His own time and not I who went to him.)
Right from 1995, I used to attend masses with my wife, but never understood what it meant. We both are active members in our Church St. Vincent Pallotti, Marol. Last year when I got myself enrolled for the RCIA classes, I along with my wife and kids went to the RCIA registration office at Bandra and I could see the joy on the faces of my children and my wife. All of 20 years she had waited for this day, without complaining but only praying. Thereafter I went to meet our Parish Priest Fr. Charles Fernandes for the required letters. He and rest of the priests were surprised that the letter was for me. All this while they thought that I was a Catholic. and so, did many people of our parish. Finally, I joined the RCIA classes on 02 Jun 2016 at - St. Teresa Convent in Santa Cruz.
As the RCIA classes started, me and my wife both had to attend the classes on weekly basis. During the first 2 to 3 classes, when the animators used to ask questions, I used to feel that I am in a Sunday school class for small children. I used to think that I know all of this what are they teaching, but as the classes progressed I realized how wrong I was. I had heard and seen the Ten Commandments in movies but never knew what it really meant. All this while there was a bible at home, which I had never opened to read but when I got a bible for myself in the class, I started to read as and whenever I used to get time may be once or twice in a week.
Here I would like to go back to the year 2012, I was running my dad’s business after his death. there was a drop in my business and then my mom expired. Those were bad days in my life. Till last year my business was going down and I thought of shutting it down. My daughters have grownup now, the elder one is 18 years now and the younger one 13 years. There used to be a lot of indifferences in the house and I was thinking it’s because of the generation gap.
But now I know and understand that you need to surrender yourself and your problems in the hands of God. Now I do not get upset and angry on them or at work I am ready to face the truth and every challenge up front. Previously I used to run away from them, like I used to not answer my phone or tell some or the other lies to cover the problems. Now I started to see life in a totally different way with Jesus by my side always and realized all problems have solutions if we are ready to face the truth in the God and have faith. But believe me from the time I joined RCIA classes and began to pray to our lord, there was a vast improvement in my family life and business too. You might think this as a coincidence, but my faith was getting stronger in Jesus’ as I started to understand his teachings. I started to place all my problems to Jesus in my prayer to him.
Earlier I used to pray, but to whom, which god I myself did not know, as the classes progressed so did my faith in the lord and faith in Jesus Christ started to grow deeper. Now I knew to whom I was praying to and suddenly I found peace in me and my surrounding.
Then came the time for our rite of acceptance. I was the only candidate in our parish. I was very scared and nervous to face the whole church all alone. Then I said to myself if the lord my God is with me, who can be against me. Immediately I got the self-belief that I could stand alone in front of the whole church. This was the first mass in my life that I really concentrated on every word and felt myself connecting to God. From this day my concept of the mass really changed.
Then came the time for the rite of election. I was all set for the big occasion in my life. A day prior, I called my god-father just to remind him of the mass timing so that he can be in church on schedule, but for some personal problem he said he could not make it. I was so furious, I argued with my wife, did not sleep the whole night, thinking now I will not have a God-Father for the mass. The next morning, I got up and did not know what to do, then I remembered what our RCIA’s animators used to tell us. so, I took my Bible, went to my room and started to read it. RCIA animators had given us the book of the daily gospel which till that day was kept as it is duly sealed in the plastic cover. (it was 5th of march). I opened that book and read the day’s reading. As I finished reading my phone rang and it was my god- father asking what time should he be there at the church. This was the time I really understood the power of the word of God and what Jesus said “Ask and You shall receive”. And from that day the first thing in the morning, I read the word of the God and present myself to him to guard and guide me throughout the day.
Now as I prepare myself for the scrutiny’s and for my Baptism, the Holy Eucharist and my Confirmation, I pray to Jesus to clean me of my Sins and to always remain in me through the Holy Eucharist so that I may sin no more. And I now truly believe that we can only go to Jesus, when and how he wants us to come to him, by his will and not ours. I now understand that all these year’s Jesus was there with me, through my wife’s prayers and not mine. Till the time, I joined the RCIA classes, I did not know how to pray. I now pray to Jesus to dwell in me forever and get the things done from me as he wants it to be done and spread his good news to the less privileged people like me.
I would really want to thank from the bottom of my Heart, My Animators for making me understand the true word of God and all my Sisters and Brothers of this Batch of RCIA (Santa Cruz), who Played an important part in this Journey of mine. Last but not the Least my Daughters and my Wife.
Finally, I know that after living all these years in darkness, I will be able to see the true light through Jesus Christ my lord. I have now found for myself a father, a friend and a guardian in ‘The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’. Now I do believe, He is the only God and I am eagerly awaiting my baptism at Easter, so that I can receive and welcome Him into my heart. Amen.
(Nirmala Carvalho contributed to this article)