I was born in Sault Ste. Marie in 1954 to Lutheran parents. They had me baptised in St. Mary’s Finnish Lutheran Church in May 1960. My godmothers were Mary (a friend of my father) and Martha (my mother’s friend who lived in Toronto). Mary was a devout Lutheran widow who attended church regularly and volunteered. Martha was married to a Catholic who attended Christmas Midnight Mass (only). Later, she became a Jehovah’s Witness.
After my baptism, my godmother Mary took me to church with her once and I was invited to return the next week for Sunday school. I was excited, but my parents never allowed me to go back to church.
In 1969, we moved to Toronto and in 1971, my parents decided that I needed to be Confirmed. My mother put me into the Confirmation class at the Bathurst Street Finnish United Church and I was Confirmed in May 1972. Having studied Latin in high school, I showed off by reciting the Lord’s Prayer and the Credo in Latin
In 1973, I entered U of T, Victoria College, but also studied Philosophy, Celtic Culture, German Culture and one English course at St. Mike’s. In early 1974, I snuck into St. Basil’s, hoping no one would notice that I wasn’t a Catholic. I began dropping in regularly, wanting to learn what Lent was all about, and why people lined up to receive something that looked like a wafer. The priests and confessionals looked very impressive. I asked one of my professors, a priest named Father Edward Synan, how I could become a Catholic.
During the summer of 1974, I worked at the U of T post office, and once a week, after work, I dropped by to see Father Synan to receive instruction in the Catholic faith. I came to the conclusion that there were so many rules that I would have difficulty obeying all of them. So I didn’t become a Catholic, but Father Synan remained my mentor and dear friend until his death in August 1997.
After Father Synan died, I waited another year before entering RCIA. When my father died almost a year to the day that Father Synan had died, I took that as a sign that it was time for me to become a Catholic.
For years, my godmother Mary had prayed that I would become a believing Christian. Then, in Toronto, my elderly Catholic friend Mary O’Regan had prayed that I would become a Catholic. Finally, Mary O’Brien received me into the RCIA program and on April 3, 1999, I was received into the Catholic Church in St. Basil’s by Father George LaPierre with Patricia O’Grady as my sponsor. I have remained here ever since.