By Caroline Smith
Stories of faith journeys can be beneficial in a number of ways, in particular by illuminating how individuals encounter God throughout their lives and revealing the daily practices that strengthen this connection.
Author Deb Warrier, a former journalist and columnist for The Record Newspaper, has brought together 38 such stories, collected during her time as a journalist, of Australian Catholics and their relationship with God.
Her book, Inspiration for Daily Living was self-published in 2016 and comprises three sections, ‘How I Pray’, ‘Why I Became Catholic’ and ‘My Vocation’, with each bringing together diverse voices from across the Catholic community.
The first section, ‘How I Pray’ includes 12 stories of people’s relationship with prayer, including James, who has survived long-term drug addiction through prayers to St Jude (of hopeless cases); Angela Boothroyd, who is involved in promoting Perpetual Adoration in Perth; Whitford Parish Priest Father Joseph Tran, who recalls praying collectively with family members on his way to university and Michael Sandrini, who turned to God after leaving a motorcycle gang, and now helps young men in prison through prayer.
The stories show the benefits of daily intercession with God, and also the many different ways people can pray.
These include comments by Emeritus Archbishop of Perth, Barry Hickey, on the Divine Office, as well as musings on the importance of the Sacrament of Communion as a kind of prayer.
Section Two, ‘Why I Became Catholic’ conveys a sense of the many different ways a person can come to embrace the Catholic faith, from non-religious consecrated Brother Gilbert Bloomer, who was raised in Evangelical Anglicanism, re-discovered his Jewish roots, and then converted to Catholicism after feeling the spirit of God in a Melbourne Church, Sunny Hong, who joined the Catholic faith alongside family members in her teens but saw her beliefs grow stronger in later years and Nuong Nguyen, who grew up as a ‘default Buddhist’ in Vietnam but was inspired by a local Catholic boy and how God inspired his life.
The final part, ‘My Vocation’ brings together stories of people with many different ways of dedicating themselves to God through their vocation, including the priesthood and marriage.
These include Sister Mel Dwyer, who was on-track to become a professional athlete and perhaps an Olympian but was inspired to join the Canossian Daughters of Charity after doing some volunteer work in Tanzania, Fr Quang Hong Pham, who became a De La Salle Brother in his native Vietnam, and was imprisoned for his faith before finally being released and came to Australia, where he was able to become a priest; and Jill Dwyer, who describes the importance of God in her marriage to husband Terry and the challenges they have overcome together.
Published together, the stories in Ms Warrier’s book present a rich smorgasbord of human encounters with God and with their faith, and gives an insight into the many different experiences that make up the Catholic community in Australia.
Inspiration for Daily Living was printed by Mervyn Jong, who also provided the cover design. It is valued at $15.