Frida Marie Trinidad, 27, lives with her family in Tondo, Manila. She is the eldest in a brood of four.
She earned a Bachelor of Science degree, major in Mathematics, at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM). She has been working as a data analyst at Manulife in Quezon City, for six years now.
In her younger years, she attended Mass with her family in her parish church three times a week— on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Her father was a pedicab driver so they happily rode in his pedicab in going to the church.
But as the years passed, her parents became busy earning for the family and no longer had time to go to church on a regular basis. And she was nonchalant about it.
Finding Peace for My Restless Heart
IN grade school, my siblings and I attended catechism class. The catechist required us to hear Mass every Sunday. It was rather embarrassing to miss one because the class took this obligation seriously. Our attendance at the Sunday Mass became a badge of honor that we took pride in.
In high school, I became lax in attending Mass because I was no longer accountable to anyone if I didn’t go. I would hear Mass only on special occasions. Sometimes, when we had school project that we needed to work on, we would agree to meet at the Don Bosco Church in Manila, because of its huge field. Normally, we would hear Mass before proceeding to the field for group practice or meeting. Only this way did I get to hear Mass.
Our family grew. My father had to work doubly hard for the family’s needs while my mother attend-ed to us children and house chores. Gone were the days when my family went to church together.
On my fourth year in high school, I received a scholarship sponsored by our congressman— and tied up with a non-Catholic church.
I got invited to attend their church’s service every Friday. I enjoyed going to these gatherings because of the activities involving the youth and in the process, I gained new friends from other schools.
I envied my friends in that sect. I couldn’t help thinking that they had deep faith, while mine was shallow.
My new friends influenced me in a positive way. I started to read the Bible every day. Like them, I wanted to praise and worship God unabashedly. I wished we did that in our Catholic parish church, too.
In time, my friends started asking me if I wanted to be baptized in their church.
But I didn’t see strong reason to leave my Catholic Faith. Besides, my whole family is Catholic. I would be the odd person out.
I began to feel uncomfortable around my friends because I felt the pressure to be baptized in their church My interest in the group started to wane. Going to the Friday fellowship became more like an obligation. I couldn’t wait for the school year to be over.
When I went to college, I was no longer obliged to attend the Friday night gathering.
But there were also non-Catholic among my blockmates in school and we became good friends. I liked them more than the previous group because they were not intrusive, not at all pressuring me to get baptized in their church. We had fun studying the Bible and developing a more intimate relationship with God. We sang Christian songs during breaktime. We had fellowship regularly.
One time, while waiting for our professor, we sang hymns of praises. When he came in, he let us finish our song and even prayed with us after.
I graduated in 2009, and I immediately worked in an insurance company in the evening shift. I had trouble adjusting to the new setup. I ended up sleeping on weekends so going to Sunday Mass was out of the question.
But as the years passed, I sensed a yearning deep inside. I felt empty. I couldn’t quite put my fin-ger on it because I was happy at home and at work. Everything ran smoothly. What could be bothering my heart?
Finding the Feast
In December 2010, I gave in to my friend Vera May Depano’s invitation to attend The Feast. I liked it instantly. I was like, “This is what I’ve been looking for!”
You see, I liked my second batch of non-Catholic friends because they welcomed me into their group warmly and genuinely cared for me— something I did not experience in my Catholic parish church. I wished I’d find a Catholic group who would accept me the way my friends accepted me. And I found what I was looking for in The Feast.
When I got to The Feast at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), the ushers and greeters welcomed me as if they’d known me all along. I couldn’t have felt more at home.
I said to myself, “Where have I been all along? How come I didn’t know that a Catholic group like this exists?”
Hence, I’ve joined Vera’s family in attending The Feast. We ate out after and shared our reflec-tion about the talk. My Sunday couldn’t had been any more perfect!
I started inviting my friends to The Feast. My best friend since college, Mary Ann Bernardo or simply, Me-ann, joined me. Later, the others came too. Going to The Feast became our bonding moment.
In May 2011, Me-ann and I joined The Feast’s four-day youth camp called Camp Kalye. Amazing! I came out of that retreat energized, my faith in God deeper. And I got inspired to sign up as servant to welcome the first-time attendees with Me-ann.
I also joined a Light Group (LG), where I felt God’s love through my caring co-members.
No sooner than later came the testing of my faith. My mother suffered mild stroke in January 2012. I cried and asked the Lord, “Why did this have to happen to my mother? Wasn’t my service enough?”
Then, in August 2013, Noel, a dear friend from high school suffered stroke. My friends and I worked hard to raise funds for his medical expenses. But we couldn’t save Noel. He succumbed to complications of his disease.
Again, I questioned the Lord, “Why so soon? I didn’t even get to say goodbye? Didn’t You see the effort my friends and I put in to raise money for his medical expenses?”
I became bitter for awhile. I dreaded service. I thought to myself, “How can I uplift others when I myself am feeling miserable deep inside?”
But amid my bitterness, God’s grace prevailed. I felt His Presence through the chaplain who came one night and prayed with me while my mom was in the intensive care unit (ICU). A prayer warrior at The Feast also interceded for my mom’s recovery.
In just seven days, my mother recovered.
With Noel, I tried hard to understand why he had to die so soon. I searched the Bible for answers but I was so distraught, I could not absorb what I was reading.
Again, God came to my rescue through The Feast. It happened that the following month, The Feast held a retreat for singles dubbed I Lovelife. I joined the retreat and there, I was able to pour out my burden to one of the facilitators.
The facilitator said, “Do not be too attached to people. Let go of Noel for his own peace.”
I came out of that retreat healed of my sorrow and bitterness.
Back in the Church
I am glad I found The Feast. I know I managed handling those difficulties in the past because of the lessons I learned in The Feast talks and homilies.
As a Feast volunteer, I underwent a servanthood formation program. In this program, I discovered the importance of my personal relationship with God and the Catholic Sacraments, and especially the Mass. Since attending The Feast, I have been a regular attendee at Sunday Masses. And I haven’t stopped inviting my family and friends to The Feast.