Wooden necklace from mum turns out to be Rosary beads

Naomi Fong’s mum saw she had an interest in Christianity and bought her a beaded wooden necklace with a cross on it when she was 15 years old.

At the time, living with her family in New Zealand, Naomi was a believer but unbaptised, wandering the online wilderness through “anti-Catholic” websites searching for “something more”.

“My family’s not Catholic,” the Queensland University of Technology law and justice student said, “and I never went to church for the first 16 years of my life.”

“I always believed in God but couldn’t explain it.”

She encountered a Catholic writer online who said to pray and go to church.

“‘Pray?’” she remembered thinking, “I’d never thought of that. Okay, I’ll do that.”

It was Easter of last year, and she was going to church regularly, when the people in the pews around her stood up to renew their baptismal promise and, seeing that, she said she “felt this longing”.

“I want to be baptised,” she said.

Naomi approached the priest after Mass and asked to be baptised – to the priest’s chagrin. “He said, ‘Actually, we baptise people during Easter’.”

Naomi couldn’t wait a whole year.

She went through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults and, after postponing because of the death of her grandmother, she was baptised, confirmed – with the name Mary – and received First Holy Communion in August 2018.

She had moved from New Zealand, leaving her high school friends behind, to study in Brisbane and lived with her brothers who studied at University of Queensland.

Her brothers were atheists and she lacked family support in her faith.

Her family thought she read her Bible too much, her mum was worried she was getting too involved in her faith and her dad said going to church every week was “extremist”.

She struggled with theological roadblocks too.

Online, where she had self-catechised for years, she found many Protestant websites attacking Catholic beliefs about Mary.

“The Protestants would say, ‘They (Catholics) worship Mary – you shouldn’t do that’,” she said.

That sounds right, she said at the time.

But then the Catholic websites would say they didn’t worship her, which would only add confusion.

Naomi struggled, and continues to struggle, with Mary.

At university she joined QUT Freedom ministry, and was soon invited to pray in a Rosary group.

“I don’t know what the Rosary is,” she remembered thinking but she went along anyway.

Someone there asked if she needed some Rosary beads to pray with and offered her a set.

The shape and the beads looked familiar and she said, “I think I have one of those.”

She reached around her neck and pulled off the necklace her mum had given her years ago.

“That was pretty amazing,” Naomi said.

“God gives you things that you don’t even realise you need until years later”.

“God’s given you so much already, and I look back on my life, I realise God was always with me; I just didn’t see it.”

Naomi recently started a consecration to Mary.

“Now I’m at the point where I’m like, ‘Okay, time to pray the Rosary, anyone want to pray it with me?’” she said.

“I think it’s nice because I never had a mum I could pray with. And now I have a mum that’s in the Church, not even that, she’s up there.” Continue reading

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