Ivy Jam Vegas, 31, is an Information Technology professional working as database administrator in a multinational business process outsourcing company. She lives in Mandaluyong City.
Her mother brought Ivy along to Mass when she was still a kid. But later, Ivy lost interest in the Mass and preferred to stay home on Sundays to work on school projects.
I remember going to Mass with my mom regularly starting when I was about six years old. After the Mass, my mom attended church meetings and other activities, while I joined Sunday school.
Later, my father asked Mom to spend more time at home on Sundays. She gave up her church duties and I quit my Catechism class. We still heard Mass, though.
In time, I started elementary school, got busy with school work, so I missed Mass now and then.
I had more reasons not to hear Mass when I went on to high school. I got so tired with school work during the weekdays that during weekends, I stayed in bed until late in the morning.
I went on to college, and my views on hearing Mass did not change. Come Christmas season, however, I attended the nine-day Simbang Gabi or Mid-Night Mass, said to be a novena which you pray if you wanted a petition to be granted. I thought God would grant my prayers that way. I also participated in the celebration of Holy Week.
Life went on smoothly for me, until a fateful day in June 2011. My father suddenly lost consciousness and he was diagnosed with aneurysm. He went into coma, and after three days, he passed away.
Bitter over his death, I found myself keeping a distance from God. Still, I went to hear Mass because my mother insisted that I go. My heart wasn’t there, though. I lost interest in the rites— and in God. I felt that attending Mass was an obligation I just had to fulfill.
Also, we moved to a new house, far from our parish church. Before, I just walked to our church. This time, I had to take a ride. This gave me another excuse to skip Mass.
My mom, on the other hand, drew herself closer to God. She became active in church again.
Me, I just went on with life, which somehow perked up when I found a boyfriend. But the relationship did not last. We broke up and I was back to my old miserable self.
To make matters worse, I also suffered financial problems.
Finding The Feast
In 2015, I became acquainted with Ariel Gozon, a colleague. My friends at work and I knew that he was active in church and we would make fun of his feel good posts. But deep inside, I must admit, I enjoyed reading them because they sure did lift my spirit.
The messages could have not come at a better time. They gave me hope during my darkest moments.
One time, Ariel and I met up and I saw a copy of The Feast bulletin on his workstation.
Curious, I had to ask him, “What’s that?”
So Ariel told me what The Feast was all about, gushing over what he called its “blessings.”
And yes, he finished with an invitation for me to attend The Feast.
But Ariel would not be discouraged. He continued to invite me to The Feast now and then. One time, he told me about the LoveLife, a two-day retreat for singles.
I thought maybe that’s what I needed — a one-on-one talk with God. I knew I had to fix my life and undergo personal and spiritual development so I signed up. After the retreat, I felt like a new person— a better one. I made new friends.
That weekend, I met people who were passionate about God. I saw them worship Him openly, unabashedly. That inspired me. I thought, “I want to be like them.”
The second day of the retreat being a Saturday, the Singles Ministry head, Pat Morales, invited our batch to attend the 11:30 a.m. Feast session.
We must be at The Feast, she said, because the preacher, Bro. Migs Ramirez, will acknowledge all those who attended the retreat. Knowing I would see my new friends there, I went.
In March 2016, right in the middle of Star Theater, I realized why Ariel came to this event every Sunday. It’s an amazing feeling to worship God with so many people. Right there and then, I knew where I would be spending my Sundays.
My mom could not believe how I have turned around. Now, I wake up early on Sundays to attend The Feast. I don’t mind not getting enough sleep. My week is not complete without The Feast.
Before, I wouldn’t go to church, even if it’s so near our house. Now, I have to get a bus ride, or if I’m late, a cab just to attend The Feast— but I don’t mind.
I have had questions about the Catholic Faith— and I heard answers at The Feast— during the Mass or the talk proper. Today, I always go home with inspiring, new knowledge— a fuel for the work week ahead.
I used to be a negative person but now, I’ve become optimistic about life. I can conquer all for as long as I work hard— because God is always with me.
Back to the Church
Since March this year, I have been regularly attending Mass at The Feast and I go to Confession.
After years of being a lukewarm Catholic, I’m now back embracing the Catholic Faith— and this time for good.