Buddhist’s-journey to Catholic priesthood
By Sameer Nagrare
Nagpur: “God so loved the world that he gave only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (Jn 3:16). This verse refers not to me searching for God, but God in his mercy came in search of me.
I was a neo-Buddhist. Before encountering God’s love in Jesus, my understanding of God and the world was very pessimistic. More than reverence and love I had a strong fear of God. So I believed everything that happened in my life was a punishment from God. Hence I wanted to appease him through prayer and sacrifices.
When I was in class 4, my parents got separated. This incident broke my life. I was sad and felt hopeless. This affected my studies and my relationship with others. Failure in my studies and the problems in the family led me to frustration and loneliness.
However, I was surrounded by many friends.
As the days passed I could not look at a hopeful future. Everything was dark. It was in one of those days a Brahmin friend who had a Christian friend, asked me join them in a retreat at Muringoor in Kerala. It was in the year 2000. I was 21 years old.
I agreed to join them on one condition that they take me to Kanniyakumai in Tamil Nadu.
The retreat turned out to be a turning point in my life. I discovered that God was not cruel as I imagined. Rather God was full of love and mercy. During the days of retreat I experienced God’s immense love.
My idea of sin was also cleared. My understanding was that the only sin was murdering someone.
I also came to know about the 10 commandments, the Word of God and the Church teachings on sin in the present-day context.
When I became aware of my sinfulness, I mentioned them to a priest who after listening to me, assured me that he would pray for me.
On the third day of the retreat the preacher spoke about Jesus as the only Savior. It raised lots of doubts in my mind. What about all other gods?
During the counseling this doubt also was cleared. I was convinced that Jesus was the only Savior of the world. The counselor asked me to continue to pray. He told me that God will make known his will in his own time. I prayed to the Holy Spirit to fill me with his gifts and charism.
I said to myself, if there is a God he should be like Jesus who died for the sins of humanity.
My mind was divided. So I could not understand.
During my prayer I surrendered myself to God. Next morning I felt myself cleared of all my doubts. I had nothing more to ask the counselor. I had no questions. I was calm.
I started speaking about Jesus in the train itself.
Back home I was in a dilemma about how to convey my experiences with them. But I felt comforted by the Lord that he would take care of me and give me the right words to speak to my parents and friends. I continued my relationship with Jesus and experienced his love and mercy during my personal prayer.
A year later I felt an urge to become a priest. I wanted to get married too. So I was in a conflict. When I consulted spiritual directors they told me that the decision is to be mine as it was my desire to be a priest.
I decided to join the seminary. If God had called me I would be a priest. If not I was not afraid of society or anyone else, I would get married.
From my family front I faced objections. Friends too tried to stop me.
But I entered the Seminary for the archdiocese of Nagpur in 2007. The years rolled by one by one. I completed my theological studies in Mumbai.
I was ordained a priest in 2014. My siblings and father now believe in Jesus. They come to church for the feasts and functions. They accept me as I am.
Thanks be to God.