Paolo, 28, is a parishioner at Our Lady, Queen of Peace Parish, Greystanes, and currently working as a Campus Pastoral Associate at ACU North Sydney Campus. He shares about his relationship with Jesus.
Comforting and reassuring.
It was not always like that but right now, He is very much a friend and a source of comfort, strength and reassurance. I was brought up Catholic, would pray, but coming into my teenage years where you do start questioning things you aren’t really sure about, faith was not at the forefront of my mind – neither was my relationship with Jesus. I still went to Mass but very much questioned whether it was real or the point of it. I was involved in the music ministry which kept me going to Mass.
In 2015, I was invited by Catholic Youth Parramatta to a retreat called LIFTED. Initially, I did not want to go but I remember it was the last day to register. I was reading and I got up to go to the study, where my Mum was helping my brother register, and I said, “Oh you are still registering? Can you register me too?”. They were stunned ‘cause I had been telling them “No I don’t want to go,” for a month straight. I felt this interior tug to go. When I got there, there were just so many young people which I found odd because there are usually so many old people at Church. It was a beautiful moment.
One night we had adoration, which was my first experience of it. I remember just being there, Jesus just present, and I just sat there looking up at the monstrance and thinking I did not know what I was doing with my life. Then this feeling of warmth just filled me and there is no other way of describing it but this pure love radiating, and I burst into tears. It was such a powerful moment, and I went to Reconciliation and had a really honest confession. It hit me that I just need to focus on what’s important in life and from that moment, I knew Jesus was real, He loves me, and I believe. I attended more retreats, met an amazing community at the university I was attending at the time, going to daily Mass on campus to learn more about the faith.
Faith in small moments
I think a lot of times we can think of faith and look at some of the saints’ lives and the extraordinary things that happened like St Padre Pio who had the stigmatas. But it does not always have to be extraordinary. It can be just those small moments in your life where God is there, where you can see God moving in a conversion or in a moment. It could be a decision you have to make in terms of work or study or in the ordinary day-to-day things, and faith can definitely be present. I think practising gratitude helps with that; you can feel that this did not happen by chance, there is a Creator who created all of this.
On a day-to-day basis, I am reassured by God’s plan for my life and live my life on purpose. It’s about trying to live that plan even if I don’t know what the next step is yet. For me, God is a central part of my life. He isn’t just something on the side – it’s small prayers throughout the day, having a conversation with God, and keeping Him in the loop in my life.
Young people in the Diocese of Parramatta are invited to find out more about Catholic Youth Parramatta. Find details at linktr.ee/catholicyouthparra.
This article was originally published in the 2022 Ordinary Time | Winter 2022 edition of the Catholic Outlook Magazine. You can pick up your copy of the magazine in parishes, schools and offices across the Diocese of Parramatta now or you can read the digital version here.