Bishop Anthony shares his Conversion Story at Faith at the Fiddler
|Bishop Anthony with the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta Evangelisation and Religious Education team and baby Benedict Gordon.|
The best was saved till last. A crowd of more than 80 people filled the Greenway room at the Mean Fiddler in Rouse Hill on Thursday 15 November for the final ‘Faith at the Fiddler’ for 2012.
The drawcard was the Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, who shared the story of his own conversion.
The Faith of the Fiddler gathering followed on the cusp of the media wave following the announcement of the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse. As the majority of the audience consisted of young Primary and Secondary school teachers from across the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta, Bishop Anthony began his talk with a few words to them about the recent events.
“These are hard times for the Church in Australia. The Royal Commission that has been announced into child sexual abuse in institutions including the Church has the support of the Catholic Bishops and the Church will cooperate fully,” Bishop Anthony said.
“I know I speak for our entire Catholic community when I say that our hearts go out to the victims of child sexual abuse, the ‘little ones’ whom Christ most loves, and to their families. Sexual abuse is to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. We are ashamed of past failures and determined to do better.
“I know many of you here tonight are teachers. Don’t be demoralised. Know that your vocation is very important. Young people need your faith, your concern for their safety, your contribution to their growth in wisdom and knowledge. Please support each other in this prayerfully and humanly.”
“Our baptismal conversion continues through life”
Bishop Anthony then shared with those gathered his conversion from “the old Man” to the new man “putting on Christ”.
“Time was, you see, when I was a proper little pagan. I lived for my next drink or other sensory experience…I just wanted pleasant experiences and a quick fix to anything that wasn’t,” Bishop Anthony said.
“But something happened that put me on a different trajectory. Did God throw me from my horse or motorbike? Did I hear His voice calling from heaven or at least from my iPod? When did I accept Jesus as my personal saviour? It happened, in fact, in a moment. It was late in the morning of 3 April 1960, at St Thérèse Church, Lakemba, when Fr Cyril Hatton poured water over my head and said ‘Anthony Colin Joseph, ego te Baptizo in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti’.
“That was the moment of my conversion. At Baptism the old man-child is cast aside forever and we put on Christ. On that foundation God, family, friends, teachers, parishes and we ourselves build in the years that follow.
“My first year at university was confronting...There wasn’t Faith at the Fiddler in those days, but there were cafes and bars where my friends and I could puzzle philosophically if not yet theologically, over the three great mysteries of God, the universe and ourselves and how to respond.”
“Part of that puzzling through things was to decide what sort of Christianity was best...Full-cream Catholicism is an alternative to Christianity Lite: you can’t have both. Christianity Lite tosses out the inconvenient parts of the faith...For a time I was a bit of a Cafeteria Catholic, a picker and chooser. But eventually I decided it was all-or-nothing Catholicism for me.
“All Christians are converts; no-one is born Catholic. Our baptismal conversion continues through life: despite indifference, backsliding, sin. A gradual process of sanctification through Word and sacrament, shocks to the system and more gentle nudges, continues until death, and even a little beyond, by the mercy of Purgatory… We are all a work in progress.”
The audience was inspired by Bishop Anthony’s personal story of faith and a lively Q&A session followed. Bishop Anthony stayed to have a meal with the teachers and friends who stayed after the talk to enjoy some fellowship.
Faith at the Fiddler has enjoyed a wonderful 2012 with audiences growing and a program with included a variety of guests such as Catholic singer and songwiriter, Gary Pinto, media personality and ex-Rugby League star, Jason Stevens, NSW Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Greg Smith, Scripture scholar and Lecturer in Theology, Peter Holmes, and finally our very own Bishop Anthony.
Look out for Faith at the Fiddler in 2013!
For information about Faith at the Fiddler please contact:
Team Leader Evangelisation and Religious Education
Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta
Ph: 02 9840 5714
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