Wednesday, 30 September 2009

My conversion story

Occasionally, people ask me about my vocation story. A good while back I wrote a brief account of my life of what happened up-to my baptism and reception into the Catholic Church. So for anybody who is interested, please read the brief account below (and if there are any comments I might elaborate it a bit):

My childhood
I am borne in the Netherlands, but have been living in Ireland for the last couple of years. Originally not being baptised I was not really part of any church or had any particular belief. I would maybe have known a few stories of the bible, but they would be countable on one hand. In the first 10 years of my life I can remember that going to Sunday school while my parents went to church. This did not happen for a very long time, or at least I do not recall it as being regular for a long time. I did however enjoy a very happy and balanced childhood, for which I am really thankful for towards my parents.

I went to a non-Christian public primary and secondary school. Until recent there was, and might still be, a distinction between public and Christian schools in the north of the Netherlands. Most of the Christian schools though would not be of the same protestant belief as my parents are. Anyway, this means that there was no mention of God in any of our classes. There was a choice I can remember for one hour a week on primary school, but I did not go for religion that time. I am brought up in an educational system which seems to holds the idea that God is a fairy tale, something that is long ago proven to be a fraud and which was only an ideology invented when people were poor and had nothing else to grasp onto. Summarised, it had nothing to offer to the western world we are living in. There was not much relevance to it in my eyes as we are way past that and much to sophisticated for that!

Being a student
I did a four year mechanical engineering degree after secondary school, and kept myself busy with doing voluntary work, which was in the form of organising cross country events related to horse riding. Besides studying, I also worked to earn my own money and not to have to ask my parents for pocket money, and it thought me to be financially independent concerning things I want to have.
To finish my degree I had to do a four-month practical placement, in which one has to work on a dedicated project and write a small thesis about the results of the project. I ran into problems however as the placement I had arranged, doing a project in an new television factory of Philips in Mexico, was cancelled at the last moment. For some reason a lecturer in the college thought that I wanted to go to a foreign country, and he arranged for me to go to Galway in Ireland. I was not planning to do this, but spoiled for choice, and liking the challenge, I accepted.

Coming to Ireland
The four-months placement went very well, and I made a good impression on some people that I was asked to start a Master with the college in September. I liked that idea, as at this stage I liked Galway, and a few student friends I made there were going to stay as well for a year extra. I got a summer job offered with an international company for a few months, which suited me to bridge the gap between the start of the Masters and the graduation of my mechanical engineering degree. I had a few weeks holidays to go home and collect my degree at the graduation ceremony before coming back to Ireland.

A change in plan
When I arrived however at the company, there was not really anything concrete for me to do, so I started to look around for work. I decided that it would be nicer to do a Master through research in association with the company, and consequently after this was agreed I wrote a proposal to do so. A bigger impact on my life then this was however that I met a catholic colleague in the same department, in the same office, who started to talk with me about God. I engaged him on his questions and challenges as I like a good discussion, and before I knew I was discussing topics as “the start of life”, “evolution” and the “historical accuracy of the bible”.

These discussions, and the subsequent research I did, really astonished me, and I was blown away by what I discovered. Was it possible that there might be a God after all? I looked at different aspects of science and history, and slowly had to agree more and more that I saw signs that indicated that it would be very plausible that there was a supreme being like a God. I will not go into the detail, as I will describe some of the topics in later chapters, but it made me wonder…
The big change in my life however came not about because the fact that there “might be a God”. It was God who acted in my life, and who revealed Himself to me. After I accepted that the bible seemed historical accurate, and could be believed, I opened my heart enough to accept the possibility that there might be a God. My colleague, a good friend at this stage, told me that if there is a living God, who cared for us and loves us, the least he could do was to show him to us if we sincerely ask him. I made a commitment to prayer, although I did not really know what prayer was. I just simply asked that if there was a God if he would show himself to me, and it happened: God showed me that he was present in my life!

Becoming a Catholic
This completely turned my life upside down, and had such an impact that I started to attend a prayer meeting to deepen my understanding of God through prayer. I was not much later that I understood that I had to make a decision about my future. I was either going to follow God, and become a Catholic, or I was completely ignore everything that happened in the last months. The decision to become a catholic and to go through the initiation rite for adults was easy! I found the true and living God, creator of heaven and earth, and discovered that this God loved me! I was received into the Catholic Church at Easter following.

God has been very good to me since, and I have had a lot of blessing concerning my work and relations, and a few years after this all happens I thought it to be a good time to write down some of the reasons I started to accept God in my life, and the way I walked while become an active follower of Christ. Really believing in God, in my eyes, is not something to keep one busy for an hour on Sunday! Really believing is really believing the message of the gospel. Really believing in living the message of the gospel. Really believing is inviting Jesus in your daily life, for better and for worse. And really believing is receiving the all the love and joy God really wants to give to every one of us… if we would only say yes to him and invite him into our lives!


Michael said...

Congratulations on becoming a Catholic.

God bless you

Anonymous said...

Greetings from the USA! I too am a convert to the Catholic Church, though my conversion story is different. I'm glad to hear that you're pursuing a religious vocation. I too am considering the priesthood. God bless you richly!


epsilon said...

I've taken to liberty of posting about your conversion story on my blog - hope you don't mind

BTW I was in Amsterdam with the Legion of Mary in 1971 for a few months with three others from Ireland - we worked in C&A, stayed in a convent on Egelantiersgracht and did Legion work in various places in Amsterdam

Michael said...

Over 5 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of ABSOLUTE TERROR.

I wanted to end my life.

Fortunately I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits - hospital - in four months.

I imagined I was in hell. I think I was going through some sort of metamorphosis - mental, physical & spiritual.

I had been seeing a counsellor since 1994 up until then. My fear was that I would be locked away, but the hospital staff were very supportive.

I didn't seem to have any control over my process. I was released from hospital 16th September 2004, but my fear had only subsided a little.

I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again - feeling fear, pain & shame.

There didn't seem to be any relief in sight. Not even my counsellor could help me.

I was TERRIFIED. I got down on my knees and asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins.

Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.”

I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing.

I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities.

John 3: 8, John 15: 26 are verses I can relate to, organically. He's a real person - Holy Spirit - who is with me all the time.

I have so much joy & peace in my life to day - after a childhood spent in orphanages. God loves me so much.

Fear, pain & guilt are no longer my constant companions.

God bless you
Michael Gormley


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