Debbie Warrier: In the Church, God works in ordinary lives

12 Dec 2008

By The Record

Hazel Hathway: I became a Catholic because my husband John and three children Dawn (43), Paul (40), and Angela (38) are Catholic. Eventually I caught up with them and converted 24 years ago. I took my time about it.
I was expecting Dawn when we got married and she was born six months later. It was a real stigma then but I wanted to have her. I think she’s a miracle. All my children are. I’m blessed to have three children and seven grandchildren. I’m very passionate about mothers being there for their children.
Originally I lived in the UK and belonged to the Church of England. I went quite regularly. It was a matter of habit.
Some time later I just started going to the Catholic Church.
Three and a half years after that my parish priest, Fr Perry said: “Isn’t it about time we have a few lessons?”
I said: “Why not?” I saw him for six months. In the end I converted.
Sadly my father never talked about my conversion. I think he had some bad experiences with religion growing up. At the time the IRA were very much in the news and Catholics have had bad press.
All I could remember about Catholic Churches was that there were always lots of people outside after Mass. They all seemed happy.
There is an emphasis on community in Catholicism.
John’s work brought us to Australia in 1991.
Now I am a member of the RCIA team at my parish, St Patrick’s Basilica, in Fremantle. It’s the most wonderful journey to travel with people.
I feel so privileged to be part of it. My parish priest, Fr John Sherman, is very special.
Once there was a man with cancer who attended our group. He had an operation that made him blind. He didn’t often speak. However, when he did, he came out with some gems of wisdom. Often he was quite humorous.
If I had a small percentage of that bravery it would feel like I had an ocean of it. He died a year later.
In 2002 my poor sister had a horrendous mental breakdown and then she discovered that she had breast cancer. God’s plans are beyond us. I went over to the UK to bring her back to Australia. I used to take her to Sunday Mass.
She didn’t seem to be the slightest bit aware of what was going on around her. Despite this I’d go up to a statue of Our Lady and light a candle for her.  We found her a wonderful psychiatrist too.
One day we went to St Mary’s Cathedral in Perth and there was veneration of St Therese of Lisieux relics. One of St Therese’s last promises was that she would send down a shower of roses when she died and this was inscribed on the wall.  It somehow made me feel a connection with St Therese and I prayed really hard for her intercession. A week later my sister made significant progress and recovered.
I can’t see substance in a life without God. You can talk to God anytime you like. He’s always there. I can’t imagine how people can get by without that support and comfort. I see Christ in the joy of nature and the way people are.