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Monday, July 15, 2024
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When Gina’s husband was on death’s door, Jesus came knocking

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In the quiet of the evening, Gina sat with her husband, Abboud, holding his hand gently. Uncertainty blanketed the dimly-lit hospital room as her husband battled a severe illness that threatened to take him away.

Overwhelmed with fear and worry, Gina did something she had not done since she was a young girl. She prayed silently, grasping onto a faith she only remembered from her childhood, for strength.

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“And I think that that’s the moment where I just had to say, All right, it’s up to God.”

With each whispered prayer, she felt a sense of peace wash over her, a feeling of comfort and solace that she had long forgotten. In the stillness of night, as she poured out her heart to Jesus, she found herself reconnecting with her faith in a way she hadn’t in years.

It was the first time she felt a window opening in her soul, and the next morning, her prayers were answered.

“There was a point where he wasn’t going to make it, but he did and it just got me excited. The possibility of what can be.”

Abboud made a full recovery. But it wasn’t just his health that felt revived and reignited.

becoming catholic - The Catholic weekly
Gina and her family growing up. Photos: Supplied

Memories flooded back to her of her time as the young daughter of Greek migrants, enamoured with their Greek Orthodox faith—something she didn’t share as she grew up in Sydney’s South-west.

“And the church was all in Greek. And I didn’t understand most of it. As I got older, I didn’t have to go with my parents. So I didn’t,” she said.

She recalled meeting husband Abboud for the first time, a devoted Catholic. She was puzzled by his adherence to the faith.

“He said he goes to church every Sunday and I said, ‘Yeah? What do you do at church every Sunday?’”

She recalled how nonchalant she was about agreeing to bring up the children in the faith, only because it meant so much to him.

“When he did ask me to marry him, he said he wants his kids brought up Catholic. And I said, It’s fine. I’m not into my religion that much.”

But that all changed, in the midst of her desperation and her beloved Abboud’s subsequent recovery. During that sleepless night. Mary found herself discovering a curiosity to learn about Jesus.

And as the sun rose on a new day, she found herself swapping her New Idea and Woman’s Day magazines for a Bible.

“That was really interesting. I think that was the first time I actually understood more who Jesus was,” Gina said.

She felt a growing love for Jesus and felt drawn to go back to church to learn more about him.

“I want to understand. I want to see the stories. I want to hear the homilies.”

Slowly, as Abboud returned to health, she returned to the faith where she gained what she calls, “little insights into these graces, I guess I call them graces of God.”

With each new insight, the seed of faith grew. Two decades after her husband’s illness Gina made a life-changing decision.

becoming catholic - The Catholic weekly
Gina and husband Abboud. Photos: Supplied

“So much so, that I became a Catholic last year at my local parish, All Saints Liverpool,” she said.

“Sometimes you have to experience life differently before you can appreciate the life that you’ve got now.

“You know there are people that grow up in the church or, you know, cradle Catholics or cradle Orthodox, they don’t really appreciate how beautiful this life can be.”

Last year her quest for deeper discipleship saw her complete the Arete course, equipping her to become a leader in her parish.

She now leads new coverts and the faithful through the Alpha course and last November she assisted parish priest, Fr Paul Monkerud, organise the first All Saints Ministry and Cultural Expo, featuring over 20 ministries and cultural stall, last November.

“The one thing I want to do is just to get everybody to know everybody else, to become one in the sense that they can all use their gifts, use their expertise, whatever they have, so that they can just make this church, the parish, wonderful.

“Just get people to come in and to help and to just be a part of the life of God. I just want them to know the joy.”

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