"It is not you who chose me, it is I that chose you."

Yes God chose me! But he isn't through with me, or with you. The following is a brief story of my encounter with God in the Catholic Church.

My name is Bill, I'm 39 and a commercial printer of  22 years. I'm married, and a father of two. My story begins in Oregon, and continues in Arizona and California.

As a child I was Baptized into the Catholic faith. I attended a Catholic grade school, and attended mass daily. I became an Altar boy, and also a Reader at the daily mass. As a youth I really didn't appreciate the mass or the Sacraments. But now they have a much deeper meaning for me...God has opened my eyes to HIM, the Catholic Church, and the wonderful Sacraments that Jesus gave to us.

My wife Lisa and I were married in the church. She was a convert to the Catholic faith, and as I said before, I grew up in the Church. We attended mass on Sundays, and baptized both of our children into the Church. However, after a few years we quit going to mass. I guess we got caught up in the business of the world around us.

We visited Church from time to time. Especially the Christmas and Easter Holidays. But we were not practicing our faith very well. We even visited some protestant churches, and became members at a Lutheran church for a short time.

Five years ago, we decided to make a big change in our lives. We made a trip to Arizona, where I accepted a job in Phoenix as a press operator. Little did I know, what change was really in store for me.

Before we moved, we decided to rent out our home in Oregon. the people we rented it to were from Arizona, and actually lived in the city (Mesa) that we moved to. Our new tenant (Dave) had told me about his church in Arizona, and his Pastor. He even showed me a picture of his former Pastor, and talked very highly of him and his former church, St. Anne's. I didn't think much of it at the time, but looking back now, I can see that God was calling me and my family back to his Catholic Church. He even gave me a preview of my future Pastor and church home.

When we arrived in Arizona, we started looking for a church to call home. We visited a few, and started attending a Lutheran church near our home. After a few month's, some friends of Lisa's invited us to visit St. Anne's. I was really reluctant, but Lisa was open to checking out this place.

So one Sunday we visited. I wasn't real impressed, but Lisa saw something that I didn't. She saw the Holy Spirit at work there. I wanted to continue attending the Lutheran Church, but Lisa wanted to join St. Anne's. I even went to talk to the Pastor at the Lutheran Church, and told him of the scenerio. He told me to take my family to St. Anne's for a few month's, and if we weren't happy, we could return there. Little did I know, that the next few month's would have an impact on the rest of my life.

After a few weeks, I could also see the wonderful works of the Holy Spirit. This community of Saint Anne's was alive! God was moving his people there, in a way that I'd never seen before. And all the Priest's of the parish were living proof of the Gospel message.

At that time, Lisa and I were involved in playing indoor soccer. One Sunday afternoon, I was injured while playing goal keeper. A man ran into me (accidentally) and collided with me from behind. He injured my lower back,and I was in the most excrutiating pain that I'd ever experienced in my life. In fact I had to quit playing soccer, because it hurt so bad...in fact the pain lasted for two months straight. Day and night. It was so bad that I had to have Lisa put on my shoes and socks almost every day. I was in pain at both work and at home. I tried pain killers, but nothing seemed to help. Finally one day I heard of a healing service that was taking place at St. Anne's. With nothing to lose, and everything to gain, I went...Praise God for what happened to me there. I was sitting in my chair, really hurting with an intense pain in my back. Our pastor called all people forward to the altar area to be blessed with the chrism. As I was prayed over and annointed, a miraculous healing took place. As I walked back to my chair, I knew I was healed. I sat down, and the pain of my last two month's was gone!

After that healing, I began to attend mass more frequently. I also started going to the Sacrament of Reconcilliation (confession) more often. Once, I even went to confession, to a visiting Priest, and he told me my sins. Who says Jesus isn't present in the confessional!  I thank God for the blessings he gave to me then, and also for what happened later.

Almost a year later, I attended another healing mass at St. Anne's. I had also been to a few others, but this particular one I'll always remember. It was the day that Mother Teresa passed on from this world to her heavenly reward.

Our Pastor called "All that wish to be touched by the Holy Spirit" forward. It was that night that I asked the Holy Spirit into my heart.I asked HIM to "Create in me a clean heart, and enkindle in me the fire of HIS love." It was the night that God baptized me in the Holy Spirit. As I was prayed over by my Pastor, the Lord touched me with HIS Holy Spirit, and I new what it meant to be "Born Again." I fell to the floor and the Holy Spirit burned into me the "Fire of HIS love."

I praise God for that gift! And hope that everyone reading this will also be blessed with a true Baptism in the Spirit! God is so great and all Loving!

Because of this conversion, my life has been changed forever. Immediately following this event, I attended mass for two months straight! What joy to receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, and to hear the good news of the Gospel on a daily basis. My prayer life changed dramatically. I began praying the rosary, and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. I continue to pray those weekly, and read the Scriptures daily.

I invite all who have left the Catholic Church, to come back to the place that Jesus first called you. And for others of different Christian faiths, to be open to the Catholic faith.

Yes God has said to me, and to you," It is not you who chose me, it is I that chose you."

May God bless you always, and in all ways!

Bill Schwahn

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