CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 23 February 2019

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A journey to faith in a foreign land

ROME (AsiaNews): Twenty-five-year-old Silvia Peng hails from Guangdong, China, but during a four-year stint working as a consultant in Italy, she discovered a faith in Jesus, which has turned her life around.

“Jesus is a puzzle. I tried to explain this puzzle in my heart with simple words, that he was always in my heart hidden away, or that my heart was in the dark, often for a long time. Perhaps he has always been in my heart, I doubt it though…,” she told AsiaNews.

“During my education, there was no place for the words faith and Catholic. Sure, I was a good student and I thought I could ignore these words, since school exams did not require studying them,” she reflected.

She said that she asked herself, “‘Do I need perhaps to pray to achieve my goals? Do I need to read the bible? I thought that praying and reading the bible would put me in a bad mood. I knew nothing of the faith and so I never got serious about it.”

In 2010 she visited a family of an Italian friend and out of curiosity about the way Italians live, attended Mass for the first time in her life with her friend’s mother and grandmother, in an old chapel in the town of Montebelluna in northeastern Italy.

She said that although she did not understand anything, she was left with a deep impression. 

“The choir singing made people more peaceful; they were dressed in their best, children attended the Mass and exchanged the sign of peace with others. I also saw how, at the end of the Mass, people greeted each other… But I still did not understand who Jesus was, although I sensed that Jesus was not difficult to understand and that he was not far from me,” she reflected.

She visited the family again at Christmas going to midnight Mass with them “I sat close to his grandmother and I thought that the Mass was so special that it was like a great concert,” she related, saying that there was something special about the mulled wine, hot chocolate and chat in the square afterwards.

It was an experience of growing in self-awareness.

“People who have faith become attached to everything, say thank you for everything and are full of gratitude. Their life is full of expectations and hope,” Peng said. “This is something I discovered in the lives of my Catholic friends. They are always ready to offer themselves, to help others calmly, even if they themselves have difficulties.”

As a result, Peng began searching for a personal faith and joined a catechumenate.

“The puzzle in my heart has been unravelling every day. I feel lucky because I see beyond what I expected, that I am in a hurry to learn in the Christian faith,” she said.


Then the unexpected happened. Peng said, “A great honour was bestowed upon me when I was welcomed among the catechumens who were introduced to Pope Francis on November 23. Now I cannot wait for that day (baptism). I think that the puzzle in my heart will unravel even more in the future.”

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