Through life-giving conversations during FOC and beyond, I have continuously been inspired by the faith stories they have shared. To know that we were all equally broken but clothed in the blood of the Lamb, and desired to know and love our wonderful God really gave me the strength to pursue my faith. FOC itself also taught me how to be a Catholic student, not just a student who is Catholic.
Sarah with her group at FOC 2015!
As I began to reflect for this testimony, I was slowly drawn into amazement at how the Lord has blessed me with a Catholic community; one which I never thought I needed, but has proven to be an immeasurably great gift.
I was a cradle Catholic, like many, and my family used to attend Saturday evening mass regularly when I was younger. Unfortunately, it was halted. Being a child I did not think too much of it, but by some stroke of grace, I continued to pray.
As I approached my Confirmation, I slowly recognised the heaviness of my sin. I nearly left the church without being confirmed, as I could not bear to be hypocritical about my identity as a Catholic. However, by another great stroke of grace, my Catholic classmates invited me to attend a Penitential Rite that Lent. It was there that I resolved to return to my faith, and experiencing Jesus’ presence during my Confirmation camp strengthened it. However, because I could not join the youth ministry, I continued on a solo journey of faith, thankfully with my faithful God beside me.
It was an uphill task, as there was tensions at home regarding my new practice. Attending mass alone was intimidating too. Many times I stopped, but somehow there was a desire to continue. Every mass, I would give thanks to the bread I had received, and pray that I would be able to again receive it the next week. It was only years later that it hit me how this sacrament was called the Holy Communion- because we are continually drawn to Him at His sacred table.
During a homily one weekend, my mind was incessantly distracted about my NUS admittance, and the huge unknown world I was stepping into much alone. I wondered if there was some society for Catholics in NUS, and resolved to Google for an answer once mass ended. Unsurprisingly, I forgot about it. It turned out that God was way more efficient than Google, because I received a text from a CCA senior asking if I wanted to attend the CSS FOC. This divine providence astounded both of us and despite my reservations, I decided to listen to God and take that leap of faith.
Attending the FOC had been an amazing experience indeed, because I never had a community to journey with in my faith. I found myself feeling thoroughly blessed for all the things we did as a community, though it was simple, like saying grace before we partook in our meal. I never had that at meal tables I was at, and this act was a beautiful extension of Christ’s fellowship with his disciples at their table.
Being a part of a praying community has also been something I am very thankful for. Through life-giving conversations during FOC and beyond, I have continuously been inspired by the faith stories they have shared. To know that we were all equally broken but clothed in the blood of the Lamb, and desired to know and love our wonderful God really gave me the strength to pursue my faith. FOC itself also taught me how to be a Catholic student, not just a student who is Catholic. The camp led to a renewal of my faith, and was just the beginning of a new chapter in my journey.
Although I have only been in the CSS community for a year, it has brought me lots of joy. Moreover, it has aided me in being accountable to my faith, as we journey together in Christ. Through the faculty contact group sessions, Friday campus masses, Wednesday frisbee sessions or even coincidental meetings at weekday masses, I continued to meet new people whom I could instantly connect with because we shared the same faith. That, I think, is truly the beauty of a church community built on the foundations of unconditional love.
My biggest takeaway from FOC has indeed been this Christ-centred community, grounded by the strongest gossamer of God’s unconditional love. If anyone of you walks alone in discipleship, come and share the light here!
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1 John 1:7 (NIV)
Sarah is currently Year 1-going-on-2, and we thank her very much for sharing so bravely and honestly! Indeed there are many of us whose faith perhaps meets with resistance from others, even (or especially) our loved ones, which makes it very difficult to continue in the journey. We hope that her testimony may speak to those encountering the same struggles, and convey the importance of having a community to journey with and be accountable to!
We have extended the deadline for signups by two days, but do hurry because there’s just three days left! (Although if you’re reading this past the deadline, drop us an email and we’ll see what we can do…)
NUS Catholic Students’ Society Freshmen Orientation Camp (FOC) 2016: A Disciple’s Guide to HiKing registration is now OPEN: http://tinyurl.com/NUSCSSFOC2016
When: 27th June to 30th June 2016
Where: Church of the Holy Cross (Just beside NUS Utown)
If you have any queries email firstname.lastname@example.org!