When I look back at my life, it's clear to me that I was not a seriously religious person. At one time early on, I questioned the very existence of God. I was born Catholic but did not practice Catholicism. My family believed in God, anchored into the faith by my grandmothers, but we did not go to Mass every Sunday. We were church-going Catholics at least twice a year, during Easter and Christmas, and whenever one of our relatives passed away.
I was baptized in the Catholic Church at the "old age" of nine mainly because my aunt asked my mom why I was not baptized. My aunt became my Godmother and I then started learning about Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. When I was 13 years old, I attended Sunday school for a few months and eventually received my First Holy Communion. When it came time for the next logical step, my confirmation, I decided not to proceed with the sacrament because I thought with all the evil in the world, there could not be a God.
I was agnostic throughout my late teens and twenties. I could not commit to being an atheist, but I was not entirely sold on believing in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost either. I was spiritually lost for most of my thirties, struggling to find myself while escaping with drugs and alcohol. In my forties, I connected with a yearning for a higher power. I began my search for enlightenment by taking several spiritual paths, exploring Buddhism, Wicca, the Kabbalah, and mindful meditation.
Simultaneously, I continued to depend on legal and illegal substances to fill an emptiness in my soul. Eventually, thanks to a force greater than myself, I became sober in my fifties. Once I got the proverbial monkey off my back with the help of a therapist and a recovery program, I gained clarity and the courage to face and deal with my inner demons. I finally began to truly know myself.
During this difficult transformative time, I sensed I was not alone. I felt a pull toward more meaning and purpose, examining the bigger questions of life like "Who am I?" and "Why am I here?" I started to review the reason why religion was not a huge part of my world, or more so, why I did not naturally gravitate to it.
Concurrently the study of genealogy has become a hobby of mine in recent years, highlighting the fact that Christianity was of great importance to my ancestors. My career trajectory also led me to a nonprofit organization linked to the Catholic Church. The signs were coming together for me at that time in my life to reassess my relationship with God and religion.
I thought if I was going to devote myself to theology again in earnest, I would go back to the beginning by revisiting the religion I was born into and the one where I had already received two sacraments. After some introspection, I decided to finish what I had started and enrolled in a Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program at my local Catholic church.
After seven months of catechism classes, I was blessed with the Sacrament of Confirmation and added Vicente to my name. I am now a practicing Catholic and I sometimes still cannot believe it. I consider myself a born-again Catholic, experiencing a homecoming of sorts. About five years ago, if you had told me this was going to be the case, I would have called you crazy.
Everything is meant to be what it is. This challenging journey was always going to be mine. I am full of faith these days and I am grateful for all of my blessings in life. I now live every day looking at ways to be of service. I know firsthand that a spiritual and religious conversion can happen to anyone open to the possibility.