Sat, 12 July 2008
Patrick Brennan was born and raised in suburban Rochester, NY by his faithful Catholic parents. The oldest male in a homeschooling family of five children, Patrick often volunteered as an altar server and lector at his parish. As he matured, however, his engineering mind found it increasingly difficult to believe in something he could not understand. Unsatisfied with the lack of fellowship at his parish, he was never challenged to foster a spirituality which embodied more than the abstract sentiment that "God loves you."
Everything changed in Patrick's life when his father lost his job. In one year, his family moved four times while his father looked for work, eventually settling in Wisconsin; the more his family moved the more Patrick's faith wavered. As the financial situation grew grim, he began to earnestly pray for their well-being. After months of frequent prayer, his father received a rare call-back for a job interview. In the days leading up to the interview, Patrick doubled his prayers and trusted that God would finally come to the aid of his family. The sad news that his father did not get the job crushed Patrick's struggling faith. Within a few months, he did not consider himself a Catholic but a Deist who suspected religion was nothing more than a show. At this point, the 17 year-old stopped praying altogether and got a job to help support his family; if God would not attend to their needs, he would have to be the one to carry the family on his shoulders.
In time, Patrick began to apply to colleges. Always computer-savvy, he decided to attend the Rochester Institute of Technology to become a Software Engineer. As he was departing for college, his mother handed him a Bible. He immediately handed it back to her and said, "I don't need this."
Soon after arriving in Rochester, an old friend invited Patrick to St. Titus Fellowship at the St. Irenaeus Center. Although only a small group at the time, the fellowship at St. Titus opened his eyes anew to the Catholic faith. As he began to regularly attend this Friday night fellowship, he more and more saw that faith was not simply "a glimmer of light that merely touches our lives, no, it is a torch that each of us needs to carry -- it's a way of life."
When he returned to Wisconsin over Christmas break, he began to read the Bible he once told his mother he did not need. As the next few academic terms passed, Patrick witnessed great growth at St. Titus Fellowship. While the group increased in numbers and its fellowship deepened, his faith grew strong like iron strengthened by iron. He now realized that his main purpose in life was to strive for Heaven.
Patrick's family still has its struggles, but he is thankful that God's grace has brought them through their darkest hours. He now realizes that were it not for the brothers in Christ he met at St. Irenaeus, he would not be Catholic today.
Dick Graham was also born in Rochester, NY to a faithful Irish Catholic family. After serving in the Navy and graduating college, he married and started a family. Though he never doubted his Catholicism, the responsibilities fatherhood and a career were so pressing that Dick never inquired why the Church taught what it did.
After his retirement, he began to study his Catholic faith and eventually ventured into anti-Catholic Fundamentalist chat rooms on the Internet. After a few years of serious study and frequent discussion with Protestants on the Internet, Dick began to win theological debates. It was at that time that Dick founded CARS, the Catholic Apologists of Rochester Society. The aim of CARS is to enable Catholics to grow in their knowledge of the faith, particularly by studying Scripture and the Catechism.
Music: "Foggy Tam Set" from album "Wild Wood" by Shira Kammen. www.magnatune.com