I came into the Catholic Church in April 1993 and have been involved with youth ministry ever since. Currently, I am in my tenth year as the Director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver. We assist churches in their youth and young adult ministry through training, support and events.
As a 20-year veteran of ministry, I’ve been blessed to encounter many amazing people, both young and old. Quite simply, I love God, I love the Church, and I’m constantly blown away by what people, especially young people, can accomplish in the name of Jesus. But although I eat, sleep, and breathe the Catholic faith now, I did not always subscribe to the religion.
Today I am married to a lovely woman named Gail. We are high-school sweethearts and she was the one who introduced me to Jesus Christ back in the early 1990s.
Together we have three children: Sean Isaiah (10), Jacob Issac (8), and Kayla Marie (4).
Gail had a huge role in my conversion to Catholicism and in introducing me to Jesus
Christ. The truth is, I started attending Mass with Gail and her family mostly for the free Chinese meal afterwards. Thankfully Gail patiently taught me a few prayers while I tried my best to behave during Mass.
But the more I went to church, the more I connected to something deeper. I simply loved the way I felt when I was at Mass and when I was praying with Gail and her family. And I saw the joy of Christ in her along with her sincere desire to serve and to love. It just felt right.
I wasn’t always in ministry. I failed my CA exams and bounced around the worlds of accounting, human resources, and financial planning, all while serving in youth ministry (part time). Throughout this time, God was a constant, and working with young people just seemed a natural fit. Eventually I gave up trying to make it in the corporate world and obtained the position of Director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, a position I’ve held for the past 10 years.
Would I even be a Christian if I hadn’t met Gail? It’s hard to say, as very few of my friends from high school and university are Christians. I’d like to think that God would have eventually led me to faith. But who knows what church or denomination that would have been.
I love so much of what the Catholic Church has to offer: the combination of both Sacred
Scripture and Apostolic Tradition. The belief that the Catholic Church is the one true
Church founded 2,000 years ago by Jesus Christ Himself. The fact that I can go to Mass anywhere in the world and know what to expect.
Yes, I’m aware there are some differences between Catholics and Protestants – some are big and some aren’t so big. I’m excited to explore some of them with you.
Most of all, I’m excited to see where we have common ground: most importantly in our belief as Christians that God sent his only begotten son, Jesus Christ, as saviour for the human race.
I look forward to conversing with many of you in the future.
1. Why do Catholics have a Pope?
The role of the Pope, as successor to St. Peter, is to lead the faithful on Earth and to pass on the Faith to the Church. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said to Peter, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.” Thus, it was Christ’s intent to pass on the authority to guide the Church in His name to Peter and the apostles. Since then, it has been passed down through the centuries. This is called “apostolic succession.”
The current pontiff is Pope Benedict XVI (born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger) and he is the 265th Pope. Prior to Benedict was Pope John Paul II (born Karol Józef Wojtyła) who reigned from 1978 until his death in 2005.
2. Do Catholics pray to Saints and worship statues?
As Catholics, we ask the saints in heaven to pray for us and with us, and we pray with them . . . but we do not pray to them. Just as we may ask a loved one or friend to pray for us and with us, so it is with the saints. There are many different patron saints that we can call upon for specific prayers. Lose something valuable? Ask St. Anthony of Padua for help. Have a bad dog bite? St. Vitus to the rescue. Want to sell your house? Then St. Joseph’s your guy.
As for statues, Catholics use them (along with paintings) as a way to recall whoever or whatever is being depicted. Much like we are aided by photographs or videos to help us remember loved ones or certain memories, we can recall saints by looking at images of them. Like many people, I have pictures of my family prominently displayed in my office. These pictures help me think of my loved ones, but I certainly wouldn’t say that I worship them. There isn’t any idolatry in these situations.
3. Why do Catholics believe that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist (Mass)?
Catholics believe that Jesus Christ is literally (and not symbolically) present in the Holy Eucharist — body, blood, soul and divinity. This is rooted in scripture in John 6:48-56. Holy Eucharist is one of seven sacraments; that is an outward sign of God’s inward grace. How this actually happens at Mass is a true mystery of our faith and thus, we are to have faith in this invisible reality.
The Eucharist has both substance and accidents. During the Mass, the substance of the bread and wine turn into the Body and Blood of Christ. But the accidents don’t change; thus it remains the bread and wine in shape, smell, taste, feel, and colour. When Catholics receive Jesus at Mass, He nourishes us physically and more importantly spiritually.
Clayton Imoo of the Archdiocese of Vancouver will take a look at a few questions about Catholicism. If you have a question you’d like answered, write Clay at [email protected].
- “Did Adam & Eve Have Belly Buttons” by Matthew J, Pinto, Ascension Press, 1998