Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Apr
  • 24

Young woman finds home in Catholic faith

Posted By April 24, 2014 | 1:18 pm | Lead Story #2

By Tanya Connor

WORCESTER – “It’s a nice decision for a young person to make. I was led to this point due to scriptural reasons and historical reasons.”
Denisha Brace was talking about becoming a Catholic. She told her story to The Catholic Free Press Saturday, hours before professing her faith in Catholic teaching, being confirmed and receiving her first Communion at the Easter Vigil at Christ the King Parish.
Having given up FaceBook for Lent, she was looking forward to sharing her news via that medium on Monday, her 20th birthday.
But before she got to this point someone else saw something in her that she didn’t see.
“You’re a Catholic,” she was told.
“No,” she replied, “I’m a Baptist. I don’t know anything about Catholics.”
She grew up at Emmanuel Baptist Church, where she was baptized in 2010 at age 15.
“I felt like it was fairly expected,” she said; her parents had been baptized. But, she said, “I didn’t do it out of expectations.” She knew Scripture called for baptism.
She said her mother’s father is a Baptist minister and she thinks her own father had Catholic roots but wasn’t well catechized. Her brother, now 16, was baptized at Emmanuel Baptist the year after she was.
Later she stopped going to church, feeling she wasn’t being fed, it wasn’t “intellectually stimulating” and she got more out of reading the Bible herself, she said.
She found her Catholic friends to be nice people, she said. One invited her to Christ the King’s CYC, which she participated in with other youth in 2011 and 2012, sometimes attending Mass.
“I would go and I wasn’t able to have Communion,” she said. She didn’t know why, or why Catholics had Communion every Sunday.
“I was like, ‘It’s just Communion,’” she said. “Now it’s so funny to say it. It’s not just Communion. It’s the Eucharist.”
She learned about the Catholic faith in part through YouTube videos, she said.
“When they were explaining something, I was like, ‘That makes a whole lot of sense,’” she said. This led her to study history, in addition to Scripture.
“When Jesus says, ‘On this Rock I will build my Church,’ he doesn’t say, ‘churches,’” she said. “History points to that being the Catholic Church.”
Baptists just speak of early Christians, she said, but she’s discovered that those early Christians were the beginnings of the Catholic Church. She figured what was good enough for them is good enough for her.
If Martin Luther was a prophet, he would have given signs, but he just broke away from what he believed when he was Catholic, she said. But the apostles didn’t change their minds about their faith. If they “didn’t get it right the first time,” she asked, did Luther “get it right the second time?”
She said Protestants accuse Catholics of adding to the Bible, but Luther subtracted from it.
“There was no other choice; I had to become Catholic,” Ms. Brace said. “It’s … the Catholics’ book. They arranged the Bible.” So the faith does not come from the Bible alone as most denominations maintain, she said.
“The Bible is not easy to understand,” she said. “So I knew that I needed a Church.” She said she would not have joined the Catholic Church if it was not biblical.
The Catholic Church has some things one cannot get elsewhere – like the Eucharist – she said. As a Catholic, she will not have to “look like a sad puppy” who is unable to go to Communion at Mass, she said.
Ms. Brace said she also appreciates the Catholic Church’s stand on issues where she saw more leniency in Protestant denominations.
Some churches perform gay marriages and some don’t talk about abortion, she said.
“Abortion’s not a really good thing for the black community,” she said. “We’re minorities. We don’t need to be even smaller.”
Ms. Brace found ways of explaining Catholics’ devotion to the Blessed Mother and other saints.
“If you are meeting someone and you are getting married, you want to learn everything about them,” she said. “You don’t say, ‘His mother, his father, his friends – I don’t care about them. I just want to focus on him.’ That’s how it is with Jesus. … That’s why I like the rosary.”

Young man from China is baptized

By Tanya Connor

WORCESTER – “The whole reason why I started this journey was because there was an absence of faith,” Mu Tang told The Catholic Free Press as the Easter Vigil was about to begin Saturday at Christ the King Parish. “I wasn’t raised Catholic or Christian. So I thought this was a good start.”
Mr. Tang, 27, said he was born in Shanghai, China, and came to the United States at age 6.
He was one of two people who were baptized, confirmed and made their first Communion at Christ the King’s Easter Vigil. The other was John Stevens, 63, who’s been attending Mass there for years. Baptized Christians from other churches who were received into the Catholic Church there that night and received the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist were Dameon Esposito, 43, and Denisha Brace, who turned 20 two days later.
Mr. Tang said the process of coming to the Catholic Church was good and he learned a lot. His girlfriend, Quynh Pham, a Catholic, suggested it, he said. He said the pastor, Msgr. Thomas J. Sullivan, has a wealth of knowledge, and his sponsor, John Namiotka, was great; having someone to go along with him as a guide was helpful.
In his homily Msgr. Sullivan likened this Mass to early Church celebrations of Easter, with festive music, lavish decorations and supportive sponsors. He thanked those responsible for these elements at Christ the King, including Sister Muriel Audette, a Sister of St. Anne, who helped him teach the four preparing for sacraments.
In the first centuries of the Church, adult baptisms and confirmations were done by the bishop on Easter, but this changed when the Church grew exponentially, he said.
He said numerous others were receiving sacraments in other parishes Saturday.
These people, from 37 parishes in the diocese, were welcomed to St. Paul Cathedral the first Sunday of Lent for a liturgy that is part of their preparation to receive the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil. This liturgy is called the Celebration of the Rite of Election of Catechumens and of the Call to Continuing Conversion of Candidates who seek to Complete their Christian Initiation.
Included in this liturgy were 84 catechumens (people preparing for baptism, confirmation and first Communion) and 141 candidates (baptized people preparing for confirmation and/or first Communion). Of these, 31 were non-Catholic Christians seeking full communion with the Catholic Church and 110 were Catholics completing their sacraments of initiation.
This was a great time for receiving the sacraments, as Catholics are celebrating God’s power over sin and death, Msgr. Sullivan said.
“May Jesus always be your best friend,” he told listeners, and said faith transforms pain into insight and hope.