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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.

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4 Responses to Buddhist’s-journey to Catholic priesthood

  1. A. S. Mathew

    Deeply touching story of seeking the truth and finding the truth; an honest journey to final destination of peace and happiness. I read the story of a young man in Punjab of Sikh religious faith who was a good singer, thus invited him to sing at the Catholic Church, and he was greatly fascinated by the worship, and now he is a Catholic Priest. GOD”s ways are very mysterious.

    Recently when I heard the scholarly lectures of Sri. Charu Hassan, the elder brother of actor Kamal Hassan, who was an actor cum well known lawyer, what the Hindu scriptures are talking about a Prajapathi, and it was JESUS CHRIST. In the sacred book of the Parse religion ” Avesta” it was predicted around 600 years before the birth of JESUS, that a savior to the world will be born and he will be working as a carpenter. In the Old Testament, prophets have predicted, especially the most prominent prophet Isaiah that the Prince of Peace will be born to the world.

    In Koran about 600 years after the birth of JESUS, many reconfirming references of the divinity of JESUS is clearly written. JESUS as the second Adam, HIS virgin birth by the word, HE is the only person inspired by the Holy Spirit, and the coming of JESUS Kingdom of peace upon the world. The name of Mother Mary is mentioned more times than any other woman in Koran. Also, in the sacred book of the Bahai Faith, the virgin birth and the unique nature of JESUS is mentioned.

    Is JESUS CHRIST unique? Lives have been changed every day through the name of JESUS CHRIST. As Sri. Joseph Anithottam has mentioned, the Churches are not doing enough in preaching the gospel or good news that JESUS came to the world to save the sinners and the it costs nothing but a simple confession which takes only seconds; but has gone in the wrong track of building many other tangible things of concrete and steel structures which is a delinquency in our side. It is so urgent that the gospel of CHRIST must be preached through every avenue possible.

     
  2. chhotebhai

    A genuine conversion is a gift of God. However, a new convert should live some years as a layman before joining the seminary. Even among Protestants I find that new converts are made into pastors and they tend to have very fundamentalist beliefs. More discretion is called for.

     
  3. Joseph Anithottam

    The life of this young priest is a touching example of “search for truth”. He has found the truth in Jesus. No one else is truth. But Jesus alone is truth. Modern Priests and religious learn from him and follow the path of Jesus by preaching the word not by running schools, colleges, hospitals alone. While running these institutions one should not forget his duty of preaching and witnessing to Jesus. StPaul says, ” whatever you do whether you eat or drink do it all for God,s glory.” I wish the young priest every success in all his undertakings for the cause of preaching the message of Jesus. God Bless him.

     
  4. A.Pulickal

    A very moving story. May God take care of you and protect you and guide you always, always…….

     
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