This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). Even though we cannot gather in large numbers as a community to celebrate Eucharist, this feast gives us the opportunity to think about what nourishes us in our lives. God is at work in our lives in all sorts of ways if we are just able to tune into his presence which is made known to us, often through various people and events. Over the years in our parish we have invited parishioners to reflect on what nourishes them and keeps their lives going. We have collected many of these in our parish magazine Communique, under the heading ‘My Daily Bread’. We would like to renew with this tradition and today on the feast of Corpus Christi you can read a reflection on ‘My Daily Bread by Gladys Choy’ written back in 2011. Perhaps you would like to share your daily bread story. What have been some of the key events and who have been key people in your life? How has your faith strengthened and nourish you. Contact Sally McIntosh at the Parish Office if you would like to contribute to a future reflection on My Daily Bread.
My Daily Bread by Gladys Choy
I came from a family of 5 and my parents were divorced when I was 11 and my youngest sister was only 4. It was very difficult in those days as all our relatives were not in a position to feed and care for 5 additional kids. The exception was one of my aunts, who is a staunch catholic and who has 9 children herself. She took us in for a while and that was the beginning of how we all became Catholics.
Life was never easy in Singapore and our childhood life was very difficult. In 1972 when I was 19, as a trained secretary and with the encouragement of my childhood friend in Sydney and after saving enough money for airfares, I decided to take the plunge to leave Singapore in search of a better life and opportunities in Sydney.
I worked 3 jobs for the first 2 years. My faith helped me through the initial difficult years and the Good Lord has been looking over me. Thankfully, I obtained my residency and eventually, I brought my siblings, my parents and my step-mother over to Australia in 1978.
Unfortunately, in 1980 I had to quit my good PA job to take on a huge debt that my father had embarked on for his small takeaway food business but then suffered a massive stroke and became half paralysed and could not continue his business. The option was to either let the bank sell the business, plus the house my dad was living in to repay the debt and leave him homeless, or for someone else within the family to take on the business. Being the eldest daughter, the responsibility fell on me.
Without any food business experience and money, I could only pray to God to help me to convince the bank manager to let me take on the debt and continue the business. The Good Lord had answered my prayer once again and I managed to impress and convince the bank manager to give me a chance to prove that I could do it.
Life was very difficult in the beginning. Without much money, I had to sleep in the shop for many months, praying and sharing my blanket and my bed with all my little friends at night, buying and carrying goods back to the shop during the day via public transport. The Good Lord has been looking over me, carrying me and answering my prayer all this time. Over the 5 years in the business, my shop being in Redfern which was not a good area at the time, was the only shop that had never been vandalised or robbed, while 5 other shops in the same strip had been attacked at least once. Also, I managed to repay all the debt over the 5 year period. Finally, my life had a good change. I met my husband, Ken of 25 years and I sold the business.
Starting a family was our next plan but no success after more than 8 years of trying. In 1989, Ken was transferred to Melbourne and the change of environment was good for us. In 1991 my beautiful daughter Cassandra was born. There again, it was all God’s work and we are always thankful for his blessings.
Life is full of challenges. Maybe this is God’s way of making us stronger each day. In 1996 when Cassandra was only 5, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and then when she was 12, Ken was diagnosed with lymphoma. In both instances, it was again God’s strange way of alerting us to illness through our friends. Also through God’s never ending blessing and care, we are both in full remission now.
Since my recovery from cancer, I helped in Villa Maria in Wantirna, volunteered in the St Vincent bread run and was very active in my previous parish, visiting the sick and elderly at home. We had also helped to start up Cancer Support Group at that parish, to lend support and help people at the parish who are sick with cancer. We also have been hosting the Biggest Morning Tea at our home for the last 10 years and collected on average $1,500 each year. Through our experience with cancer, we have also been able to console, help, support and look after a lot of friends who were ill with cancer.
We moved from Rowville to Balwyn in 2007 and have been attending OLGC for 3 years. I am blessed to be part of the ‘Press Club’ at OLGC, sharing the fellowship with lots of lovely ladies, pressing the weekly bulletin. Though my life has had a lot of challenges, I have always known that the Lord is always walking with me and holding my hands whenever I am worried. However, he always has very unusual ways of testing our faith and when I was first diagnosed with cancer when Cassandra was only 5, I doubt Him. I asked ‘Why me’, and worried that my daughter would be miserable if something happened to me. Again, He stays quietly by our side and sees us through. I do not doubt Him anymore. I know that without my faith I could not have the strength, the hope and the persistency to go on. When Ken was diagnosed with lymphoma, we were both at peace and walked the journey calmly together with Him by our sides.
Every day we remind ourselves just how blessed we are and to appreciate the simple things in life. We always remind ourselves that we must always carry our cross at all times. Without it we would not have achieved what we have achieved now and all these blessings are from our Saviour.