Catherine Win’s Testimony
I came from a family of 4 sisters and 4 brothers. My parents were converted to Catholicism as adults. Dad was 28 and Mum was 19. We were bought up in the Catholic faith observing all the rules and regulations.
Bound under the pain of mortal sin not to miss Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation. [special feast days] Going to a convent school meant we got a few extra days off during the year. St. Patrick’s day, Feast of the Assumption [when Mary’s body was taken up to heaven as her body was too pure to stay in the grave] I always remember the great devotion to Our Lady, even as very little kneeling down saying the family rosay asking Mary to intercede on our behalf.
At the school I attended there was a statue of Mary and it was a privilege for us to have a turn to take it home to pray with.
Also it was a mortal sin to eat meat on Friday or Ash Wednesday the first day of Lent.
If you died with unconfessed mortal sin you would go straight to hell. But if the sin wasn’t too bad that was called a venial sin then you were okay because you would go to purgatory for cleansing and in due time would go to heaven. If you were lucky enough to have lots of friends to pray for you and pay to have masses said for you then you could escape purgatory early and go to heaven.
As a teenager I went through the motions of being a Catholic after all I was living at home and that was expected, but I always wanted a faith. I always felt plagued with a guilt hating to go to confession but knowing that if I didn’t I was condemned. There was a pretending so that everything looked right on the outside.
I was unhappy at home, my father had abused me and I found out later two of my sisters also. [yet everyone saw my father as a good Catholic man].
I married a Catholic which was expected of me, the first thing my father said if we met anyone was “is he a Catholic and where does he work”? The person I married was considered suitable because he was from a big Catholic family and they went to Catholic schools. It didn’t matter their father was often drunk and knocked their mother around a bit. In fact there wasn’t any questioning about those things.
My marriage was a very much a do it yourself affair. Absolutely no idea what a good marriage was but trying to create something as I went along which I never did succeed at.
I tried to be a good Catholic and to pass the faith to my children. Never missing Mass and saying the rosary. I wasn’t supported by my husband in these things, as Catholics we didn’t share our faith other than Sundays when with a lot of organising I’d get the children ready and get us all out of the door in time for Mass, hoping the sermon wasn’t too long to get back home again.
Coming to Kawerau where I had my children my already abusive marriage got worse as alcohol which hadn’t been a problem became a very big problem.
I put everything I had into my children and home trying every way I knew to fix the problem. I went to one priest we had here for help and was refused help being told he wasn’t a marriage bureau. I never did get any help from the church.
When I was 40 and the mother of 7 children a religious sister came from Auckland to our church for a weekend retreat. For me this was very special as I was introduced to a Good News Bible. I bought my first bible. The weekend was on the Prodigal Son.
When I got home with my bible I started reading it, especially the new testament, I felt something special and couldn’t get enough of it. I remember my husband telling me I would kill myself reading it all the time. But still there was something missing, I remember thinking there must be something more than this.
My children were growing up and my 15 year old daughter became pregnant, my husband was very difficult and very unsupportive.
I went to the priest which was a different one looking for practical help, but he suggested praying about it. I felt let down. But I started going to Mass as often as I could, every day of the week. The only way I knew, I was looking for the answer’s. I took a lot of criticism because of my increased Mass attendance but I didn’t have anything else. The priest’s housekeeper used to visit me and I would tell her of my problem’s with my husbands drinking and hitting me and the extra problem because I was looking after my grandson with his mother tooing and froing.
The housekeeper used to say to me to ask the priest for the blessing of the Holy Spirit which I didn’t know what she was on about.
Then I heard they were having a Life in the Holy Spirit seminar at the presbytery each Tuesday morning after morning Mass. I didn’t go to that as I had my grandson to look after. But I was still attending Mass each day. Then the housekeeper came and visited me saying the priest had asked her to ask me to come for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit being held the following Tuesday. She gave me the papers telling me about what had happened at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came on the believer’s. I just knew that is what I wanted, I felt once I’d been baptized with Holy Spirit everything was going to be alright. As the day got closer things seem to get worse at home but I was determined nothing was going to stop this.
When I was prayed for and asked the Holy Spirit to come to me it was something I had never experienced before or have done again, it has been described as a bottle of champagne being opened, I feel that could fit the experience but I know I was crying and that was that was usually something I kept under control away from my home. I felt as though I was in a bubble.
When I got home I told my children about my experience but couldn’t tell my husband. But without telling him everything got worse, the abuse was twice as bad the criticism was worse and my faith was under attack. I was wishing I hadn’t anything to do with this Holy Spirit business.
I started going to a group with the Catholic church, others called it charismatic. I used to visit Catholic church’s where the charismatic groups used to meet to spread this Holy Spirit thing.
One thing I did desire after my baptism with the Holy Spirit was to make a good confession and found it very easy. I still continued in my faith as a Catholic doing the Catholic things saying the rosary wearing medals having holy pictures and statues in the home. I was sharing a lot of this with my children who were very open to it. But not my husband, he didn’t want to know anything about it. As far as he was concerned we had all gone queer, he called me the holy rollers. I was invited to Woman’s Aglow and I really enjoyed that, seeing women of all denomination’s being Spirit filled and Catholic’s too.
It was one time when I was at Aglow that I felt a Holy Spirit experience that I was making the most of the experience and putting in all the requests that I could think of to God. When I stopped and said to God “you know those things already” So I asked God for direction to guide me in the way to go.
That evening I was at the presbytery for a meeting that the Bishop had requested, I didn’t understand what it was all about but I usually supported these things so I went. At the end of the meeting the priest said that on a certain date during the Mass he was going to dedicate the people and the parish to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
When he said that something hit me. I said Jesus was the only way, but some one else said the Holy family Jesus, Mary and Joseph. But I knew that this wasn’t right.
The children and I had stopped saying the rosary and were reading the Bible each day.
The next day I saw the priest to say I couldn’t go to Mass offer myself to God then half way through offer myself to Mary. I was told if I didn’t like it to go some where else, I was accused of rubbing shoulders with the wrong people. I knew it was the Holy Spirit. We went to Mass in Edgecumbe that Sunday.
After that things started to happen, I was really challenged with my faith as a Catholic.Through my son I had a Barry Smith book 2nd Warning come into my possession. It really disturbed me, there was a lot about the Roman Catholic Church, I had seen things like this before but it hadn’t disturbed me like it did this time.
I had never questioned my faith as a Catholic being born a Catholic. But I wanted to find out. In fact I wanted to prove Barry Smith wrong.
I went to Catholic friends to show them the book but was warned to be careful that there has always been people like Barry Smith, But I wasn’t to be put off I wanted answers. I was really searching for the truth.
When we were having our prayer time I said ” Father we want the truth “. That week as I read the scriptures I read 1Timothy 2:5-7 “For there is one God, and there is one who brings God and mankind together, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself to redeem all mankind. That was the proof at the right time that God wants everyone to be saved, and that is why I was sent as an apostle and teacher of the Gentiles, to proclaim the message of faith and truth. I am telling the truth!”
When I read that I said Father I either believe you or I don’t. I decided to believe God we asked for the truth and we got it in God’s word. It seemed that every scripture we read that week seemed to finish with and that is the truth. We were very excited. By now 3 of my children had moved from home and one of my daughters was at university, she was fellowshipping with Christians but still going to Mass as a duty. This daughter had asked if she could be baptized by immersion some time before but I had said no as she had been Christened as a baby, that was argued about at the time and then nothing more was said. I presumed she had seen that her mother was right.
My husband was really giving us a hard time about the discoveries we were making in the Bible and just didn’t want anything to do with it. In fact he didn’t want to come to church with me any more saying he would go to the Saturday night Mass and then I would go to Sunday morning service. One morning after the girls and I went to Mass we went to The Fruit Of The Harvest church. I found that really great just like Woman’s Aglow. We did that a few times, the girls joining in with the Sunday school.
One morning I was Listening to Radio Rhema variety hour and a former mongrel mob member was giving his testimony saying of the changes in his life since becoming a Christian. Then his wife was talking saying that she had told her father she wanted to be baptized and he said no she had been baptized a Ratana, but she said she wanted to be baptized a Christian. I was then convicted that I wanted to be baptized into no denomination but into the teachings of Jesus Christ.
So when I went to pick my daughter up from university for the term holidays I was telling her all this, she said she couldn’t believe that this was her mother she was hearing. We asked at The Fruit Of The Harvest church could we be baptized.
So those holidays I was baptized by immersion with 2 of my daughters and my son at Awakeri pools on the 27th May 1990. That day I left the Catholic church by walking across the road to the Baptist church. I fellowshipped there for 7 years.
As I have studied God’s word I have grown in my relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
The abuse in my marriage was bad before I became a Christian, but becoming a Christian my husband didn’t want anything to do with me. I hung into the marriage not knowing how I would manage financially. I found it hard to trust, the 2 men in my life had abused that trust. But I came to the point either I trust you God or I don’t. So I took a chance and put my life into His hands. And He hasn’t let me down.