by Virgie Ong
I am Virgie Ong from the Philippines and this is my conversion story.
I was not born a Catholic. In fact, I was born in China. My parents were Buddhists. I was also a Buddhist, even after I married Freddie. Marrying him created some sort of problem because of my religion.
Then, it was only the St. Jude Catholic Church that married couples even if one of them was not Catholic. For as long as one is Catholic, the couple would be accepted, and because Freddie was Catholic, we were married there. But the word of the priest kept ringing in my ears. You see, when we were interviewed prior to our wedding, the soft-spoken priest told me, “Remember, you are a pagan, but because Freddie is a Catholic, you will be wed in this church. You must promise however that you will raise your children the Catholic way.”
I did keep my promise. All my children were baptized Catholics. Every Sunday, Freddie and I would hear mass in Quiapo Church in Manila because that was the one nearest our house then. But because (the environment of) Quiapo Church is noisy, I didn’t understand anything about the mass. Also, because we were both busy with work, I thought it was all right to “just go to mass”. I thought being Catholic meant just going to mass.
God, in His mercy and love, called me out of paganism and chose me to become a Catholic. He sent His messenger in the person of Fr. Paiz, a Franciscan priest.
I first met Fr. Paiz in our store. Somehow he found out that I was not Catholic. After that, he kept on visiting our store. I treated him as a regular customer. He was very pleasant and enjoyable to talk to; he would always talk about religion. It wasn’t long before he was giving me reading materials about the Catholic faith, about Jesus and Mary and the saints.
At first, I put the materials aside. But when there were no customers, I would read some. Little by little my interest grew and I started reading all those that Fr. Paiz had given me. At the same time, he would regularly drop by the store, maybe to make sure that I was on the right track.
Fr. Paiz was later transferred to another country but before he left, he asked the St. Paul sisters to keep on visiting me and keep supplying me with reading materials on the Catholic faith. So that was how my education continued.
Gradually, I felt a growing love for our Lord Jesus and for Mama Mary. During that time, Freddie and I had two daughters. My youngest was then already seven. I wanted a son so badly that I made a secret vow to a God I was just getting to know. If I had a son, I would convert to the Catholic faith. I faithfully attended the nine-day novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran every Wednesday, asking for her intercession. My prayers were answered. I gave birth to a bouncing baby boy. Shortly after that, I was baptized a Catholic.
I thank God for Fr. Paiz, the most significant Catholic in my life. I would not be what I am today if he had not taken the pains to lead me to the Catholic Way.
If I am to sum up my life as a Catholic today, it would be this way: Fr. Paiz planted the seeds of Catholicism in my life; these were nurtured by Fr. Cadusale, Monsignor Don (Erfe), Fr. Willie and other fellow Catholics. Like in the parable of the mustard seed, my faith is now a strong and flourishing tree.
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