CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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A faith life turned upside down

HONG KONG (SE): People at an Advent Recollection Day said that they are more proud of being Catholic than ever after listening to Noe Dura, a former Evangelical pastor, tell the story of his long journey to the Catholic Church.

At a recollection day organised by the Chaplaincy to Filipinos at Sing Yin Secondary School, New Clear Water Bay Road, on December 13, Dura said that he used to feel ashamed when he was being trained as a pastor to simply give out long quotations from the bible in his talks, so he would cling onto a copy of the bible just to give himself confidence.

However, after he saw how priests kiss the book containing the word of God during Mass and the way they live out their faith according to its teaching, he now looks at it differently.

Dura was a well-known and much admired preacher in The Philippines and founder of the Pure Gospel of Jesus Christ International Ministries.

Born into a Protestant family in Cebu City, his father was a minister and his mother a deacon. He and his family grew up actively serving in the Church.

He explained how he pursued his research and discovered that the truths he sought were to be found in the Catholic Church.

He said he now believes that the Catholic Church uses an authentic translation of the bible developed during its long history and he believes the Blessed Virgin Mary, together with St. Joseph, gave Jesus a perfect family.

Dura added that he has experienced that believing in Jesus alone can lead to ignoring the importance of family and that is by no means a comprehensive doctrine.

He was received into the Catholic Church on 5 October 2007 and confirmed on the same day—the same day that he was ostracised from his family.

For the next two years, Dura lived in a small hut in the mountains, planting and selling vegetables to eke out a living.

He described the two years as a period of suffering, as he had no family and no job.

But he said it was then that he discovered the beauty of praying the rosary and developed a deep relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Dura happily shared that after years of prayer and persuasion, his parents and siblings embraced the Catholic faith as well. His parents were in their 80s when they were received into the Church and his brothers and sisters are happily involved in their parishes. He shared that praying with faith enabled him to have a chance to take care of his late mother for three years after she had recovered from a major illness.

He reminded those present that asking God for what we really need must be done with faith, otherwise it is an insult to God’s power.

Dura is currently the leader of the Association of Pastors Converted to the Roman Catholic Church in The Philippines. He also heads the Evangelisation Ministry of the Oasis of Love Cebu, where he is an elder.

Father Jay Flandez, chaplain to the Filipino community, compared the Catholic Church with a boat, which never sinks in a storm. He said the Church has remained strong after numerous persecutions in history, because it is the Church founded by Jesus Christ, who told St. Peter to build his Church.

“Until now, there are still many persecutions, but Jesus promised us that even the gates of hell cannot overcome it,” he said. He added he thinks that Catholics should be proud of being a part of this Church.

Father Flandez added that faith should prompt people to action. “A Church that does not go for mission is not a Church,” he said, urging those present to share with generosity, be sensitive to the needs of others and an instrument of love and reconciliation bringing the spirit of unity at Christmas.

Sister Vicky Ramos reminded people to be joyful, so as to see God in all conditions and avoid worry and anxiety.

Virgie Fernandez, from the Annunciation Church, told the Sunday Examiner she was moved that a former pastor could treasure what the Catholic Church has more than many longtime Catholics do.

“It is a challenge to us to go deeper to love our beliefs, live them out and be proud to share them with everyone,” she said.

Fernandez said she found it good to listen to a message like Dura’s during the Advent season as we prepare for the coming of the Lord.


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