Debbie Warrier: I thought Church repressive, but truth set me free

09 Apr 2009

By The Record

Tanya Tan speaks to Debbie Warrier about coming full circle and beyond.


Tanya Tan with her youngest daughter Amber. Photo: Debbie Warrier


I was christened Anglican. My parents had mixed views on religion. They had their doubts about it. They were spiritual but they thought you didn’t need to go to Church to pray. They never talked about God.
As a child I remember asking my parents, “Where did I come from?” They told me, “Your mother.” I asked, “Where did my mother come from?” and finally this led to the question, “Where did the first person come from?”
My Dad said, “There are two views on that. One of them is Adam and Eve. The other was that there was this big explosion and all these atoms formed Earth and matter. One day there was a little cell which evolved into bigger cells and bigger cells and eventually there were people.”
I asked my father to explain the one about Adam and Eve. My Dad read me the children’s Bible every night. Not that he actually believed in it but he understood my need to understand what other people believed. 
By the time I was about 11, I attended the local Anglican Church by myself. I just wanted to see what it was like.  My parents encouraged me. They taught me to have values like respecting and loving others. They didn’t want me to be xenophobic.
When I married it was to my husband Chris who is Catholic. I told the priest who married us I didn’t want to become a Catholic. It wasn’t the way I’d been raised. Afterwards I did attend Church with Chris for years. Despite this I still wasn’t ready to convert.
Then my two eldest children, Tristan and Caitlin, received their Sacraments. They would ask me questions about Catholicism. I felt a need to be able to answer their questions and give them an opinion. They were going through a spiritual time in their lives and I wanted to be there for them.
In addition to this there was my third child, Amber. We were so grateful when she came. It was one of those moments where you feel a great sense of love and joy. I decided I wanted to have real unity within my family. Having Amber made me feel closer to God. I joined the RCIA to find out more about being Catholic.  I had faith in God and Jesus but there were still many things I was sceptical about.
For instance, I thought religion was responsible for many of the wars and conflicts in the world. I almost felt by becoming a Catholic I would be officially taking sides in a conflict.
I believed some Catholics were discriminatory or hateful towards other religions. Now I know these are personal opinions. The Church teaches love and tolerance of others. As well as this, the RCIA taught me it’s ok by the Church to plan your family, the number of children you have and to space your children out if you wish.
I decided to convert and thought life would be utopian.
Now I realise this is just the beginning. It is like getting to the top of one hill, looking across and realising that there were lots of other hills to go over. As I grow I still have a lot of personal conflicts, but I know the answers will be there for me when I look.
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