As a teenager I was a rebellious punk, a Gothic and an eccentric. Now 49 I am a non religious consecrated brother for the Apostles of Perpetual Adoration, with a Graduate Diploma in Education and have been Catholic for 25 years.
Both my parents were of Anglo-Jewish ancestry. My mother converted to Evangelical Anglican and my dad was an atheist. He was against my brothers and I being baptised in the Church of England as my mother wanted.
Dad decided to buy a Living Bible and read it so he could prove my mother’s beliefs wrong. By the time he got to the end, he believed and converted to Evangelical Anglican along with the rest of us.
My family always loved me but growing up I didn’t feel it. I was traumatized by my brother’s death in a car accident when I was 9. I remember my mother being hysterical and I thought if it was me they wouldn’t miss me so much.
I wished I’d died. All my family was terrific sports people, especially my brothers at Aussie Rules football. I played football too but I was very mediocre and remember thinking that was why my family didn’t love me.
During my adolescence I believed in reincarnation and read Edgar Cayce’s writings on “life readings.” I was also influenced by my grandmother who kept books on every religion and we studied them together.
I started looking into Occult religions (New Age). I thought I was becoming broader in my outlook but now I see that I was becoming narrow minded. I wasn’t very tolerant of people who didn’t share my beliefs.
From the age of 14 I got really interested in the Bible and I thought I knew all about God. But I never knew Him in an experiential way. That changed when I was 18. I remember sitting alone in my bedroom and suddenly became aware of my sinfulness and started crying.
For the first time I felt the physical presence of the Lord and it was love. It was transforming. I spoke what I thought was gibberish and later learned I had the gift of speaking in tongues.
I had been brought up to see Catholics very negatively and believed they were idol-worshippers. Suddenly over night I lost all my animosity towards Catholicism and Rabbinic Jewish beliefs.
I started getting into my Orthodox Jewish side. For the next three years I became very observant of that faith. I wore the black cap on my head and kept strict Sabbath. I was living in Melbourne in the heart of the Jewish ghetto, studying with ten rabbis.
Across the road from us was St Columbus Church. I thought that I would go and see what it was like because I love history and architecture. Every other place of worship was just an empty building when no one was there but here I was alone and I felt the divine living presence of God.
I thought what was it about these Catholics that their Churches would have this feeling?
I decided to go to St Francis Church in the city and there were people inside praying the Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.
They sang hymns to Mary which I thought were songs to the mother-goddess and at the end there was Benediction. I saw the gold Monstrance and thought that they were worshipping the Sun God because it was like a sun disk.
When the priest held it up I again felt this presence only much stronger. I realised it was God. So I started going there and praying for hours during Eucharistic Adoration.
One day I rang up St Patrick’s Cathedral and the guy who answered said he was Dean Chamberlain. I thought Dean was his first name which was just as well because I might have been intimidated and not gone to him for private instruction in the Catholic faith.
I found him fantastic. I read widely about Catholicism and then went away because I wasn’t sure about one or two of the beliefs. When I returned the Dean said, “When do you want to become Catholic?”
In 1987 I became Catholic. It was the Marian year. An acquaintance told me about some Hebrew Catholics that met once a month to pray. She told me they were very Catholic and read a lot of Edith Stein (St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross).
I joined them and immediately had a support network. My conversion was complete when I read a book by a Russian Orthodox priest called Communion and the Messiah. It was about a Jewish form of Christianity.
I thought there is room now for Jews in the Catholic Church. I realised my Jewish Orthodox beliefs complimented and deepened my understanding of Catholicism.
Some years later I went to the Philippines to promote Perpetual Adoration and that was where I met Father Doug Harris. I returned to Australia to teach and was engaged to a girl who later decided she wanted to be a nun.
So I decided to go to Queensland to study law. Although I was accepted by a university I suddenly felt an urge to pray the rosary. Afterwards I had an inner guidance that I should not go. Instead I went to Thailand to teach.
I still had strong ties to Perpetual Adoration and prayed for it to come there. As well as teaching I did missionary work. I became friends with a local priest and bishop and through them became involved in promoting Perpetual Adoration, the Charismatic Renewal and the Marian Movement.
I went on to promote Perpetual Adoration in Israel and Jerusalem. For the four months we were doing Perpetual Adoration with Exposition in a chapel in Israel there were no bomb explosions. Even the local media were commenting on how unusual it was. It was experiences like these that led to my vocation.
The Apostles of Perpetual Adoration were founded by Archbishop Barry James Hickey of Perth and Father Douglas Harris in 2006 as an Association of Christ’s Faithful in order to fulfil Mary’s mission of having her Son adored perpetually.
In 2010 the Apostles of Perpetual Adoration were renewed as an Association of Christ’s Faithful on a permanent basis by the Archbishop. As a non religious consecrated brother I live on Divine Providence.
My main activities are doing Late Night Adoration at St Bernadette’s Church, Glendalough and Sacred Heart Church, Highgate and being on call if an adorer doesn’t turn up.
I do a lot of study, writing and reflection on Jewish and Eucharistic Adoration themes. I share this on my two blogs.
Currently I reside in the Presbytery at St Bernadette’s where Fr Doug Harris is parish priest and there is 24 hour Adoration.
My 83 year old great aunt, her daughter, granddaughter and four great grand children recently became Catholics at the same time! My brother’s family became Catholic and although he didn’t, he sometimes attends Mass with them and is keen to read the Bible.
My cousin who was a Jehovah Witness converted and got her six children baptised. It is amazing how the Holy Spirit works. I haven’t done much. I’ve just done Perpetual Adoration. I try to be little and let Him increase and me decrease.