By guest writer Michael Goo.
As a typical Singaporean Chinese, I was raised with a mixture of Buddhism and Taoism. I came to know and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ when I was very young and studying in the Canossian School for the Hearing Impaired. After graduation, I enrolled into Montfort Secondary School’s Express stream (for good students). This was where I experienced my own “fall” due to my ego. Back then, I was arrogant and immature. Then, when everything around me went wrong, I found myself in a state of depression and despair.
Suddenly, I became aware of an unknown presence which kept nudging me. Perhaps it is due to my deafness that I have become very sensitive in the areas of spirituality and visual art. I dreamt I saw a man who looked like the Lord Jesus whom I had seen in paintings. In my dream, I found myself in darkness and saw an old woman who fell into a bottomless pit. Everyone around me began to panic. Then, a man appeared and calmed the crowd. He entered into the pit and pulled the old woman out. She began to praise God in ecstasy. The same man commanded the crowd to follow Him. Then He turned to me and pointed to a certain dark area, as if hinting at something. Upon awaking, I decided to drop everything and go straight to the nearest church.
Through supernatural impulses, I was attracted to the Eucharistic celebration and the Holy Rosary. It was my awareness of God’s very real presence in the Blessed Sacrament which drew me to His Church. Friends invited me to various Protestant communities, but I only found true, abiding peace in the Holy Mass.
When I was younger, I twice undertook the Rite of Christian Initiation for Youths, but to no avail because of secular pursuits and my parents’ objections. When I finally reached the age of 21 where there was no obligation of obedience to my parents, I went for my third attempt, in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults.
Despite its specialty in educating the deaf, my junior Catholic school prohibited all students from using sign language, training us to speak in order to integrate us with the wider community. In God’s Mercy, He compelled me to learn sign language and sent me two dear friends to help as my interpreters during my one-year RCIA journey. My deafness had made it difficult for me to keep up with the classes, even with my lip-reading ability. Over time, I came to love God more and more because the better I came to know Him, the more ardently I loved Him. I also began to love Mother Mary.
Prior to my baptism, I had a dream in which I received a warning letter with foul language. It warned me not to go to the Catholic Church or study the Catechism. I knew it was from the devil; I laughed it off and chose to go ahead with my Baptism and Confirmation, understanding it as a clear sign of my salvation. The nightmare deepened my desire for eternal communion with God.
I was surprised at my own conversion because I have no Christian relatives save for a few Protestant cousins. My parents disapproved of my conversion to Catholicism, and only my mother witnessed my baptism and confirmation. My friends were also surprised.
The clergy and laity played very important roles in my conversion, displaying the love of Christ and the joy of their dedication to God. I was blessed to find the Singapore Catholic Deaf Community, as well as charismatic youth groups and the Extraordinary Form Community of Singapore.
God blessed me with the grace to become one with Him through Sacrament of Initiation during the Easter Vigil Mass in 2011. I thank God for showing me the way even though I waited six years for baptism due to my difficulties.
Michael Gabriel Raphael Goo is a Singaporean Christian artist currently abiding in the Philippines. His artwork can be seen on the altars of the chapel of St. Joseph’s Institution (International), and St. Joseph’s Church (Bukit Timah) in Singapore.