The Diocese of Sandakan celebrated 334 baptisms during the Easter Vigil. Some new Catholics shared the story of their conversion. For Maurelline, life seemed meaningless”. Eventually, she came to “appreciate the gifts that God gives me”. Herman, a Buddhist married to a Christian, ignored his wife’s religion for years, until it began “to take root and grow” in him.
Sandakan (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Some 334 people were baptised on Easter eve in the Diocese of Sandakan city (North Borneo); that includes 135 men and women who received the sacrament in the parish of St Mary's Cathedral.
Some decided to write letters to share their conversion experience. Maurelline Semana Gonzales and Herman Khoo are two of them.
Before she began the catechumenate, 16-year-old Maurelline “did not know how to deal with her problems.”
“When I was a child I used to go to Mass with my family, but things changed when I grew up and my family went to church infrequently. This made me sad because I felt distant from God."
"My father prayed facing the home altar,” said the young woman, “but I realised that it was different from going to Mass, where one could also listen to the priest’s homily.
“So, my brother and I had decided to go to catechism, but we had no one who could accompany us, because our father was working a lot. So we had to wait until last year, when we became old enough to enrol in the catechumenate."
Until a few years ago, “life seemed meaningless” for Maurelline. “I faced many challenges and many problems in school, with friends and family. Then I found out that my father had colon cancer. Heartbroken, I thought that God was really unfair and that I had no blessing in my life.”
Taking part in the course for baptism "changed my life,” she said. “Educators taught me how to overcome my problems, to accept the truth and appreciate the gifts that God gives me in the certainty that he will guide me. I now pray for my father, and I am sure that he will cure him. I am a different person now and I know the reason for this is God. I pray to him that he may continue to guide me after my baptism."
Herman Khoo was “born and brought up in a Buddhist family”, but “My wife is a Catholic and we were married in the Catholic Church. My three children were baptised in the Catholic Church.
“I knew about the Catholic religion long before I joined the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) because I went to a Catholic school. Even though my wife and children are Catholics, if you asked me what the Catholic Church was all about I could only tell you was: there's Jesus, they [Christians] go to Church every Saturday or Sunday, and they celebrate Easter and Christmas.
“One day, my wife invited me to join the RCIA. I asked her what is RCIA? She said, 'just go and experience it for one session and if you don't like, you can simply stop.'
“I decided to go because I wanted to know what the Catholic faith actually was. I was interested to know what I can learn from the church's teachings, and most important of all, what my children are learning about the faith.”
After attending the RCIA for nine months, he decided to be baptised. During the catechumenate, “I discovered that my faith was beginning to take root and grow. I believe in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Although I still have not experienced the Holy Spirit, I believe the Holy Spirit is in our midst. I believe this is the beginning of my faith. I still need our Lord Jesus Christ to guide me, and there is still a long way for me to learn and understand the Bible.”