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Speaking Out: The highs and lows of my faith

By  Speaking Out, Michael Romen
  • October 25, 2018

I have left the Church many times, but now I can say with certainty that I will remain with the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church for the rest of my life.

Each time I turned away from my faith, it was because I thought I knew the Church. Growing up in a Filipino Catholic family, the faith was always a part of my life. Sundays were for Mass, you touched the feet of Santo Niño whenever you went to Lolo and Lola’s house. Sometimes you would find a statue of Our Lady in your living room with tattered prayer books at her feet. 

While I served in youth ministry, I became a “Conference Catholic,” content in going to the next big event within my community. 

When I started university, my faith was practically dead. I was going through the motions just to keep up appearances.

I remember when my faith began to reform. I was going to a series of Theology of the Body seminars in spring 2015 run by Sr. Helena Burns of the Daughters of St. Paul. I was amazed she remembered me by name from a completely separate event months prior. 

I had been to Mass hundreds of times before where it was that thing I did on Sundays when I didn’t sleep in. But at this particular Mass, as I moved down the aisle, in a moment of profound grace, I saw Christ in the Eucharist. In that moment, my faith became about more than tradition, and institution, doctrine. It became about a Person. I remember thinking “Is this what it’s like to be a bride?”

My faith rooted itself in Christ and my service to the Church stopped being an obligation and became a profound gift. 

Part of that gift was getting involved in my home parish, Guardian Angels Parish in Brampton, Ont. I have been blessed enough to be part of this parish since it began in 2007 and I thank the Lord that I will be part of its growth in the future.

Even if I don’t agree with the people leaving the Church, I can understand their anger. I tried reading through the recent Pennsylvania grand jury report on clerical abuse and coverup, and I had to stop after about 20 pages. I have never read anything so depraved. 

There are people within the Church who are broken, but that does not excuse the evil committed by members of the clergy. I am furious and I cannot begin to imagine the suffering the victims are going through. 

Yet I remain with my faith because it is not based in the people or institutions, it is in Christ. 

There hasn’t been a time in my life where claiming my faith has been more important. The standards set by our Lord are impossibly high on our own, but we are not alone. 

When I say that I am Catholic, I am not merely referring to an institution — I am describing a relationship. Even if there are those who have not lived up to those standards within the clergy, I will not give in. 

(Romen, 24, is a third-year English and Classics student at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont.)

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