Twists And Turns On Way To Catholicism

BY JOHN MCLAURIN

THERE was a sense of wholeness for Canberra’s Davidson family at this year’s Easter Vigil Mass at Sacred Heart Church Pearce.

It was a particularly joyous moment for Natasha, wife to Geoff and mother to Alyssa, 13, and James, 12.

She watched as those dearest to her completed their RCIA journeys and joined her as a Catholic.

The family call to Catholicism began with James, a student at Marist College.

He asked if the family could try out Mary Help of Christians Parish in Pearce as their place of worship.

The fact that Natasha’s brother and sister in-law were also attending the parish gave them added incentive.

James wasted little time in settling in being baptised on New Year’s Eve.

He will be Confirmed later this year and says his Catholic faith is important because it makes him feel safe and loved, while also providing him with a strong network of people.

Alyssa says her new faith makes her feel confident and connected. She also likes learning about compassion and having empathy for others.

For Geoff in-particular, however, the journey to Catholicism has taken many more twists and turns.

Fifteen years ago, his family home was destroyed in the Canberra bushfires and a week later he was involved in a serious car crash.

“At the time I was possibly suffering from post-traumatic stress,” he said.

“I was only 19 and was plunged rapidly into facing mortality.

“I’d gone from being a confident, carefree teenager to being terrified about the fragility of life.

“I would dream about my parents dying and I’d cling onto them – never wanting to let go. I’d lost faith and I was vulnerable to the many challenges of adult-life.”

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Mr Davidson was brought up an Anglican, spending most Sunday mornings at St John’s on the Central Coast, something he enjoyed.

“My introduction to the Catholic faith came about when we moved to Canberra and I attended Marist College,” he said.

I had a natural curiosity for the Church’s teachings.

“Marist was a great school and I enjoyed my religious education.”

“But as so often happens, my teenage-years introduced a level of cynicism which led to me turning my back and facing life alone.”

A year after the Canberra bushfires he was engaged to Natasha.

Marriage soon followed as did the births of their children.

Not long after this he met a Christian man from South Africa who made an instant impression on him.

“There was something different about him,” Mr Davidson said.

“He was kind, he was genuine, and he was invested in me and my family.”

The Davidson’s took up an invitation from their new friend to join the Hughes Baptist Church.

“We were struggling with James at the time – he was terribly shy, he had delayed speech and my new friend invited me to Boys’ Brigade,” he said.

“He said it would benefit James, which it did, but it also benefitted our whole family, and we started attending church services on Sunday mornings.”

Mr Davidson says at this point although the family were at church, he would suffer terrible anxiety – worried about his family and the inevitability of death.

“I prayed to God and I asked him for help,” he said.

“Each time I looked up at the pastor, he was glowing, and he when he preached about eternal life with Christ I would immediately feel comforted with a connection to God.”

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He says that this faith connection has been reaffirmed on a number of occasions including in a sermon about the state of the world, especially in Australia.

“Around a half of people have turned their back on God,” he said.

“Life is good, fun and is so unobstructed without God.

“But there is no light in a world without God and we are starting to see the evidence of that now.”

The Davidsons say they now have a sense of belonging and purpose at Mary Help of Christians Parish at South Woden.

“We feel at home there and we are inspired by Fr Richard Thompson,” Mr Davidson said.

“We ask our brothers and sisters to pray for us as we continue to explore and confirm our Catholic faith.”

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