Louie Ramos, 45, finished Engineering at the Mapua Institute of Technology. He works as assistant manager at Jollibee Worldwide Services – Logistics
He and his wife Irish serve in the Holy Mass— Louie as lay minister, and Irish as lector. That’s after Louie spent over 20 years as what he himself calls “a backslider Catholic.”
I WAS born a Roman Catholic.
And I grew up a Roman Catholic.
During my grade school years, I even served actively as one of the knights of the altar in our parish church. I was a very religious person then.
But something happened in me when I entered college in 1987.
A group of senior students came to our classroom and conducted an evangelization program which included a part where we had to recite what was called “The Sinner’s Prayer”. Then we were asked to accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Saviour.
It was unexpected but I did accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour as my heart was convinced that I needed Him.
I then embraced the belief of the group’s church. I was 17 years old then.
The members of the group warmly welcomed me and made me feel they love me and care for me as a brother in Christ. They taught me how to understand and interpret the Bible which I really longed for when I was still serving as an altar boy. They also taught me how to pray spontaneously— so different from the memorized Catholic prayer I’d been used to. Above all, they guided me on how to become closer to God.
As weeks went by, I saw gradual changes within me— a good, positive transformation. I felt peace. And joy. And love.
And whatever good happening in me, I attributed it to my newfound faith.
Slowly, the more that I was engaging in this new group, the more I was slipping away from my Catholic Faith. I began to lose interest in the activities of our parish church. Gradually, I withdrew my friendship from those who didn’t share my new belief. The Catholic rituals that I once loved to do as I was growing up became taboo to me. And worst of all, attending the Holy Mass had become a bore for me.
My Catholic religion didn’t matter anymore. I told myself, it is my faith in God and His Word that matters.
My new behavior didn’t go unnoticed among my family members. And soon my problem began. The former good boy of the family had become the “black sheep”. My family egged me to stop my “stupidity” otherwise, they said, they would disown me. Thus threatened, I heeded their command. But I kept this promise to myself: I’d leave the Christian group, but I won’t practice my Catholic Faith, either.
In short, tabla lang!
In the next 20 years, I was like a wanderer in the desert — a backslider both as a Catholic and as a Christian.
Finding The Feast
In 2001 I got married to Irish, my girlfriend of two years, and things began to change.
Irish is Catholic, so we got married in a Catholic Church. She’s also firm in her faith, so I was obliged to attend Mass with her every Sunday.
But it was not easy for me to participate in the Holy Mass. Taught early on against Catholic teachings, I found myself resisting what I heard in the Mass.
Actually, I even tried to convert Irish, inviting her to join a non-Catholic prayer meeting— to no avail. Instead, Irish made me choose between her or that group. I love her, so I chose her.
But not entirely the Catholic Faith. I still felt lost, unable to discern my true spiritual identity. Until one day, as the first quarter of 2007 was ending, I was impressed by an amiable lady in our company.
In our office, everyone knew Yoyi Mercurio as a very religious person, a devout Catholic. Every morning in the office, before we started working, she led us in prayer and Bible reading.
Although serious in her faith, Yoyi was not the manang type, not even a killjoy. Everyone loved her and enjoyed her company. Actually, it’s her spirituality that had somehow attracted people to her. Not only was she prayerful. She was also friendly, kind, didn’t have a mean bone in her body. She genuinely cared for you, so you felt safe, comfortable with her.
Me, I was like, “Hmmm, she’s Catholic, but she’s Christian in the true sense of the word.”
I got curious. So one day, I set a meeting with her to talk about her faith and my wobbling, if not non-existent one. I expected her to lecture on Catholic doctrines but in that meeting, I did all the talking. She simply listened. And when she finally spoke, she didn’t preach nor utter any Bible verse to make backslider me feel guilty. No, she didn’t judge nor condemn me. But she simply told me her story— how she came to know Jesus.
She said once upon a time, she was lost. Hmmm, like me. Until she found the Lord in her life in a much unexpected way.
Our meeting ended with Yoyi suggesting that I check out a Catholic faith community so I could explore the richness of the Roman Catholic religion. I was curious about her faith community. So she guided me to the Light of Jesus Family and The Feast.
Irish and I are now active members of LOJ. I serve as lay minister and Irish serves as lector during the Mass at The Feast.
Why have I embraced again my Catholic Faith? It is because someone became a good witness of her Catholic Faith and she showed that God’s Spirit does live and is fully manifested in the Catholic Church. Yes, Yoyi became a Jesus to me.
In her witness, she was able to bring me back home to the Catholic Church— not with words but through her sterling Catholic example. Her witness exemplifies what St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “You yourselves are our letter, written in our heart, known and read by everybody”.
In the beginning, I was born a Roman Catholic. And forever, I will live as a Roman Catholic.