In this raw interview, Ocean Reef parishioner Prafula Pearce speaks firsthand about her life and experience a woman. The 62-year-old wife, mother and grandmother is a full-time academic who converted to Catholicism.
“These days, I have to juggle my time between my various duties and obligations: at work where I lecture and have served leadership roles such as the Deputy Head of School and Academic Discipline Leader; at St Simon Peter Parish in Ocean Reef where I attend Mass, and carry out my role as their Safeguarding Officer; at home as a wife; and as a mother and grandmother, I love to play with my four grandchildren in Perth aged from five to 11 years of age.
My one hour journey to and from work allows me to make my car a private place to pray, especially the rosary and the stations of the cross and listen to amazing talks from my collection of CD’s from Lighthouse Catholic Media.
I get engrossed listening to speakers like Scott Hahn and his conversion story. My one hour journey is often not long enough!
On my way home from work, I love stopping over at our Adoration Chapel to say thank-you to Jesus or to hand over to Jesus the anxieties of that day.
However, I was not always a Catholic.
I was born in Mombasa, a small town in Kenya, where I was brought up as a strong Jain, which is sect of Hinduism.
As a child, I loved walking to the temple and to participate in the various rituals.
At the age of 16, I went to England to study Accountancy which I completed by the time I was 21 years of age, while also working at Cadbury Schweppes in Marble Arch.
This was not enough for me, so I took up a four year part-time degree at Thames University to obtain a Bachelor of Laws degree.
It was during my third year of study that my daughter was born and although it was a struggle juggling motherhood and work, I completed my law degree the following year.
It was then that my conversion from Hinduism to being a Catholic commenced.
At the age of 24, I was only baptised and confirmed. At the time I was pregnant with my first daughter. Although I then went to church mostly on Sundays, I did not really know or understand the faith.
At the age of 33, I migrated to Perth, and it was then that I felt my faith really started to grow.
It was some years later that I accompanied a friend to an event at Aquinas College, where the young visionaries from Medjugorje were organised to speak.
There was a huge crowd of people and during a specific moment of the event I could see the visionaries’ mouth moving and their gaze was fixated above.
They then conveyed to the huge gathering that the Blessed Virgin Mary has blessed us.
As we were driving out of the car park, someone knocked at the car window and gave me a Medjugorje tape which had the story of the Medjugorje apparition on one side with a message of repentance, fasting and prayers, and the other side of the tape had a narration of the Rosary.
Until then, I did not know how to say the Rosary and had no knowledge or understanding of what mysteries were or what they meant.
For the next five years, I must have listened to that tape a thousand times over. I also started getting up half an hour early to say the Rosary.
During this time, I developed a great desire to visit Medjugorje, and at the age of nearly 60 I finally found the opportunity to go.
Looking back on my visit to Medjugorje, I feel really blessed as it gave me the opportunity to visit the site of the apparition at Fatima, in addition to the Church in Lisbon where St Anthony was born.
We were also privileged to be able to visit the Vatican, the Basilica of Saint Anthony in Padua, Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi and most of all, the shrine of Saint Philomena in Mugnano, Italy.
I had heard the story about her life in some Catholic literature I had listened to during my daily journey to work. It was this experience of meeting Msgr Giovanni Braschi, the Rector of the Sanctuary that was particularly memorable moment. He told me about the story of Saint Philomena and invited my husband and I to stay in the residences in Mugnano during our next visit.
He even signed and gave me the last copy of the book he has written in English titled: Saint Philomena Testimony of the Light of God.
I have since continued to develop a great love and devotion for St Philomena and with God’s grace, I will share the story of Saint Philomena with you another day.”
From pages 24 to 25 of Issue 16: ‘Celebrating Women’ of The Record Magazine