By: David - New York

I grew up in an Italian Catholic family. I attended public schools and attended religious education classes weekly. I made all my sacraments as a typical young Catholic should and our family went to weekly Mass. From the ages of 11 to 14, I was as altar boy in our home parish of Immaculate Conception. Like many teenagers, I started to rebel. I never stopped believing in Jesus. I just became less of a fan of the Catholic Church. Although I believed in Christ, I can’t say I had a relationship with Him.

For the next 30 years, I would wander aimlessly in the desert of my faith.

I had not been to Mass since Christmas Day in 2013 where I attended Mary Queen of the Universe Basilica. That Christmas Mass is important because during that Mass I remember asking God to crack me open, cut my heart open if He needed. I knew I was lost. And after Mass ended, life seemed to just go on as usual for almost another two years. I attended some non-denominational services which I found uplifting, yet I felt homeless in my faith.

But the world began to change for me on November 29, 2015. It was the first week of Advent. I had an unexplained feeling that I should go to Mass. I went and thought that day was like any other ordinary mass. As I was exiting none too inspired, a gentleman handed me a postcard that asked a simple question: Too Busy? 7 weeks could change your life. This was an invitation to the Discovering Christ program.

I still can’t pinpoint why at that time I felt such a strong pull in the direction to participate. I knew with a complex schedule I wasn’t sure if I could commit to 7 weeks but I registered. I completed the entire program and Thank God I did. I really don’t know where I would be today if I chose not to attend. I am happy my spirit was open and I am glad I attended Mass that Sunday.

Discovering Christ was helpful for me mainly in its approach. The lessons offered me some answers to my questions. Two very important components for me in this program were: "Why Do I Need A Savior?" and "The Holy Spirit Retreat." I learned that I can’t fix the breach that sin created between man and God on my own. Christ died for our sins. He took the whole burden on Himself to save us! God loves us! He sent His Son to save us! Once we truly understand this we must respond to God’s call. On March 13, 2016, I did just that on the night of the Holy Spirit Retreat, I committed my life to Jesus and went to confession after 30 years.

That night I heard words, spoken to me, but not by a human voice. "Welcome home my boy. I missed you my son."

Discovering Christ gave me a way to reconnect with my faith, my parish and my Catholic-Christian community. I didn’t feel like I was being judged by the people running the program or by the participants. This program transformed me, a very skeptical fall-away Catholic, and allowed for me to take a fresh look at what Jesus said and did and what it meant for me. It showed me the importance of having a personal relationship with Him. It opened a new world of which I thirst for knowledge. I seek Sunday Mass no matter where I travel with any of my endeavors. My prayer life has become robust and I have an unquenchable desire to learn more and go deeper with Christ every day.

And as I strive to be the best of version of myself daily, I know I am not perfect. But my marriage is better. I am becoming a better example for my children. I am in love with my faith, my church and my relationship with Christ Jesus. I look at my church which I use to view as brick and mortar structure as one of the most beautiful places on this planet. Our parish is another part of my family. I feel so strongly about the importance this program that I was compelled to join the Discovering Team because I think this message needs to be told to anyone the Lord leads me too. He has done so several times already. Through Discovering Christ I know undeniably that I am the son of a King, the ever-living God and I am one who has been saved by the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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