I have (for quite some time now) wanted to document my personal journey of faith. How I became who I am today in an attempt to try and understand my faith. I started by doing just that. I sat down, and wrote out my personal journey of faith.
I know people choose to “evangelize” by sharing their journey. That is not my mission. I am not writing these posts to convert. I am not writing these posts to persuade. I am not writing these posts to influence. I AM writing these posts (first and foremost) for myself.
Previous entries in this series...
The Early Years.
I was born into a Catholic family.
At the time of my birth, my mother was a nurse working at St. Mary's Hospital in Minneapolis. My baptism was non-traditional. It was preformed inside the hospital by Father Pascal Francis Kelly in his room, and from his bed. I was not ill. Father Kelly was bedridden by multiple sclerosis and lived at St. Mary's from 1956 until he passed away in 1975. He was one of the patients that my mother regularly cared for and befriended through her time working at St. Mary's.
My maternal grandparents attended St. Albert's in Minneapolis, and my paternal grandparents attended St. Peter's in Richfield (and I have memories of attending mass at both churches with my grandparents). From birth until age eight, my family attended (the now closed) St. Kevin's Church in Minneapolis.
I attended pre-school (I think it was called "nursery school" back then) at St. Albert's and was taught by Brother Benedict (I believe a Franciscan Brother). I was enrolled into Kindergarten in the Minneapolis public school system, but the following (and all subsequent) years my parents enrolled me in the parochial school system - starting with St. Kevin's where I attended until my family moved from Minneapolis to Bloomington. Once in Bloomington, my parents joined Nativity of Mary's parish and I was enrolled into and attended Nativity of Mary School from grade three until grade eight.
It was through years of parochial school and it's interjection of faith and religion into most aspects of education that my faith found it's earliest foundation. I also had a three year career as an alter server from sixth through eighth grade. Yes, the photo you see to the right is indeed a very young "FOF". I do look happy there, don't I???
During this same time frame (elementary / junior high) while living in Bloomington that we had some very close neighborhood friends (with similarly aged children) that were Baptist. Their children attended "Trout Lake Camp" (a vacation bible camp) each summer. It was not long before we were invited to join them. I truly enjoyed the time I spent at Trout Lake Camp. It was a good blend of faith based motivation along with fun summertime activities for kids.
Throughout the three trips I made to Trout Lake Camp (over a three year time span) I learned a lot about my own budding faith. I also believe this was a huge part of how I learned to be respectful (not fearful) of, and even curious about other's beliefs. I learned that different religions may differ slightly from my own, most have much more in common than divide us. I also learned not to be afraid to share my faith. (Being one of the only Catholic attending a Baptist Bible Camp – I often was asked questions about being Catholic, and we discussed our differences. It was always done in a respectful and educational manner.)
It was my final year at Trout Lake Camp (the summer between my eighth grade and ninth grade) that the staff at Trout Lake Camp asked us to consider consciously accepting Jesus Christ into our hearts and to follow the ways of Christ in our lives. The staff stressed the importance of this decision, and did not want anyone to make the decision frivolously. After much reflection (reflection of a then 14 year old boy) It was there (ironically enough, at a Baptist Bible Camp) that I accepted the challenge. I remember the moment distinctly, and it is one of the "defining moments" in my life.
In many ways, accepting that challenge (on my own accord) was a stepping stone into a life as a young adult.
Coming soon: A Journey of Faith Part 3 - Young Adulthood.