By Natashya Fernandez
Turning 90 years young was a very special birthday for Liany Pondaag Sutikna as it was the year when she converted to Catholicism. Never wavering in her faith and love for the Blessed Virgin Mary, two weeks after her 90th birthday, Liany’s life-long wish came true when she received the Sacraments of Baptism, Communion and Confirmation at Whitfords Parish Our Lady of the Mission Church.
Citing frailty and hard of hearing, her daughter, Manenda Adenan, recounted her mother’s conversion story to The eRecord.
Her will to become Catholic started at a very young age, Mrs Adenan said about her mother, when she was sent to Santa Ursula, a private Catholic school with her other siblings.
“She came from a staunch Buddhist family but my grandparents wanted their children to have the best education, and at that time, the best private schools were Catholic schools,” Mrs Adenan said.
With a significant amount of her schooling spent at the Catholic dormitory with the nuns, Mrs Adenan said that it was there that her mother was taught to pray the rosary, learn about the Virgin Mary and was taught all the Christian prayers.
“Till today, she has never forgotten that and always calls on the Virgin Mary in her times of need,” she said.
Since moving to Australia in 1981 and marrying her (non-Catholic) husband, Liany was able to attend his church but soon realised that she was still missing something in her life and deep in her heart continued to say her Catholic prayers.
Thirty-six years later and through her mother’s constant need to go to Church, Mrs Adenan said that it was a collective decision amongst her siblings to have her mother’s life-long dream come true.
“Being a parishioner at Whitford Our Lady of the Mission Church, I spoke with Parish Priest Father Joseph Tran about my mother’s wish to convert to Catholicism and how much this has affected her, her whole life.
“We discussed the process she would go through with Fr Tran and already familiar with the prayers and scripture readings, her willingness to convert and belief in Jesus, made it easy for her to receive all the Sacraments,” Mrs Adenan explained.
A joyous occasion for the whole family, on 2 April, two weeks after her 90th birthday, Liany was baptised and received Holy Communion for the first time.
“Being the Feast day of St Francis of Paola, she was given the Catholic name of Francisca,” Mrs Adenan said.
“It was a day we will never forget and it was the most jubilant day for my mother as this was the one thing close to her heart.
“I am thrilled beyond words to see my mother fulfil something this close to her heart, especially at this age where she is finally at peace with herself,” Mrs Adenan concluded.