The suffering human family mirroring the mystery of life, death and resurrection

10 April 2024
Donnie Velasco from the Diocese of Parramatta's Mission Enhancement Team. Image: Diocese of Parramatta


In situations of challenge, pain and hopelessness, how do you find the right words to say? When it came to the struggle for Mei and Donnie Velasco to have children of their own, they leaned on the foundations of memory, family and faith to find language large enough to hold their experience. 

Donnie shared a bit more of his experience at The FaithFeed, a diocesan initiative that offers a space for the life and faith leadership of those in their 20s, 30s and 40s. With the backdrop of a bar/café vibe with live music and robust conversation, he invited more than 70 participants to hear the story of “longing” in his life, tracing its origins as far back as his own father’s experience as a parentless child. His father’s experience connected more meaningfully for Donnie when it came to starting his own family with Mei.  

As a married couple, Mei and Donnie began a journey of anticipation that would eventually shift to long years of wondering if children would ever be part of their family story. Their story took a further unexpected turn when Mei shared the tear-filled conviction to Donnie that she no longer wanted children.  

Donnie’s retelling of this conversation with Mei acknowledged that he felt shame, anger and hopelessness for knowing that he “wanted a different path”. But it was also at this point, when he was lost for words, that he was able to make a meaningful response by drawing on stories from his faith tradition. “It’s not about you,” Donnie said. “Not me – but the other,” he continued, as he articulated what for him is at the heart of Jesus’ life and mission. Again, drawing from faith stories familiar to him, Donnie shared words inspired from the Book of Ruth as he shared the heartfelt response to Mei: “I can’t agree with how you feel. But I will trust in your trust and I will go where you go. And if you don’t want to have children, then I will trust in that too.”

Donnie, his wife Mei and son Johnathan present the Gifts of Offertory to Bishop Vincent during the 2024 Diocesan Chrism Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta. Image: Diocese of Parramatta

Two of the key takeaways that Donnie described as a way of rounding off his story was that first, he felt his shared journey with his wife has taught him that he sees life and faith as something that is always under process, never finalised, wrapped up or sealed in definitive answers. It is something that “requires so much of your own personal involvement”. Secondly, he’s come to appreciate his experience as a teacher of the value that sacred silence plays, especially in the face of suffering. “Prayer as pondering,” Donnie says, is one of the examples that Mary, the mother of Jesus, provides for him. It is for him, a way to hold faith and the messiness of life “while not dismissing or disguising the reality of suffering”.

Donnie’s story is among other stories featured through The FaithFeed. Such stories are shared with the goals of normalising the conversations around life and faith; and to offer welcome, safety and solidarity among those in their 20s, 30s and 40s, so that they can ask their own questions about life and faith.

Watch Donnie’s full story here.


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