By Paul Dada

TITLE: The ardent Catholic boy

Sister Helen the reverend sister who took our catechism class asked us where we thought we were going upon leaving this world.

Catechism is the summary of the doctrines of the Catholic Church. And the catechism class is where you learn the doctrines.

I do not think any of us learners could boldly say we were going to heaven as we had no saving faith in the saviour. I remember me saying I would go to purgatory. Purgatory according to the Catholic doctrine is a place of temporary punishment for those who are not too bad or too sinful. In Purgatory, they would be purged of their sins and then later released to go to heaven.

I was immersed in the Catholic Church’s doctrines and activities. I learned about trabsubstantiaton (the belief that the holy communion bread becomes the broken body of Jesus), assumption of Mary (according to the Catholics, Mary the mother of Jesus did not die but was taken to heaven alive), seven sacraments, purgatory, etc.

The Catholic Church believes in sacraments and every serious Catholic must experience or receive six.

These are the sacraments; baptism, penance (confession of sins to the priest), confirmation, holy communion, extreme unction (the sacrament administered to the sick especially the dying), holy order and matrimony.

As of the time I left the Catholic Church in 1988/1989, I had already undergone four sacraments; baptism (which was actually sprinkling of water on you by a priest), penance, holy communion and confirmation. Extreme Unction was not necessary as I was not dying. Marriage was out of the question for I was too young for it. And Holy Order (the call to the priesthood) was not in view.

My baptismal name was Anthony. My confirmation name was Paul. I was not given the name “Paul” by my parents. It was a name I got in the Catholic Church. And I chose to retain it.

I did weekly confession to the priest and received the Holy Communion. I participated in the youth activities. I joined the choir, but my father asked me to drop out of it. I complied with his instruction.

I was briefly a member of the Legions of Mary before joining the Pages of the Blessed Sacrament.

I had my rosary with yellow beads and learned how to use it. I observed the angelus prayers typically made three times in a day. I participated in the corpus christi activities. I was present at the station of the cross programmes and all important programmes of my parish.

I liked my church and what it stood for. I aspired to be a reverend father. And when I mentioned it to my father, he ended my priesthood dreams with a loud and emphatic “shut up”.

Perhaps, one of my favourite activities in the Catholic Church was my involvement as a mass server or an altar boy. I functioned mostly as an acolyte or a candlestick bearer. I don’t remember if I did anything else as an altar boy. But being an altar boy ensured I worked closely with the priest. I continued with my altar boy “ministry ” until a seminarian (a priesthood trainee) who oversaw the Altar Boys Club got me angry. I then dropped out.

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