Profound experiences lead young men to the Catholic Church

By Catherine Sheehan

As every year, Catechumens from around Tasmania will be initiated into the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil Mass this year.

Among those who will be baptised into the Faith this Easter are three young men, each having travelled a unique path towards the Church.

Max Hodge, Dylan O’Donnell, and Nimesh Wickramasinghe all attended the Rite of Election at St Mary’s Cathedral in Hobart on 17 February and were enrolled to be fully initiated into the Church.

Max, who is an apprentice plumber with St Joseph Affordable Homes, said he wanted to become Catholic after having a profound experience of the Holy Spirit at World Youth Day in Lisbon last year.

“It was during the Opening Mass that I felt God for the first time,” Max said. “Surrounded by fellow pilgrims from Tasmania and from around the world, in that moment the Holy Spirit found me… I could feel something connecting everyone around me and inviting me to join.

“I believe that was the Holy Spirit inviting me to become Catholic… I will never forget it.”

Dylan O’Donnell said he first felt attracted to the Catholic faith after reading Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. He was impressed by it as a blueprint for living a good life.

“It’s just undeniably the greatest set of ethical maxims,” said Dylan, who is currently studying a Master of Teaching degree.

A life-changing dream had also led him to believe in “a personal, interventionist God”, he said, adding that “by the grace of God” once he accepted that Jesus was divine “there really was no alternative to the Church that He founded”.

Dylan said he regards his impending baptism as “without a doubt the most important day of my life”.

“I’m growing more and more excited as it draws nearer. I only hope I can be a good Christian and increase the talents our Lord has given me.”

Archbishop Julian blesses the Catechumens at the Rite of Election. Photo: Heather Excell

Raised as a Buddhist in Sri Lanka, Nimesh Wickramasinghe, said he had felt drawn to Jesus from a young age. After moving to Australia in 2012, he began to investigate the Christian faith. A major turning point was being invited to play guitar at Mass at the Sandy Bay Parish, where he began to fall in love with the Catholic faith.

It was primarily the Eucharist that attracted him, Nimesh said, and the realisation that faith was all about relationship with Jesus.

“It’s more than a religion, it’s more like a relationship with Jesus that is maintained,” Nimesh said.

Learning about the Gospels had also been pivotal to his growing faith, he said, and St John’s assertion that “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5), had resonated deeply with him.

“That’s what actually led me towards baptism,” Nimesh said.

During the Rite of Election Mass, Archbishop Julian addressed the three young men, encouraging them to develop a sincere prayer life.

“I encourage you to ground your life in the Church in prayer,” Archbishop Julian said.

“Make prayer a component of your life each day. Look at your daily schedule and consider what would work best for me.”

“As you enter into the full sacramental life of the Church this Easter, may you receive the grace to live as true sons of your heavenly Father.”

Director of the Office of Evangelisation and Catechesis, Dr Christine Wood, said the three Catechumens were evidence that God was drawing young people to the Church.

“I was delighted to meet our new Elect, who have unique journeys of faith, and have been accompanied by wonderful godparents and catechists,” Dr Wood commented.

“God is actively drawing young people to Himself and the Church.”

Tags: Front Page News