Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
September 20, 2010
Holy Spirit changed her life, attitude
Jamaican-born Anne Bates' journey back to God took many trials, twists and turns
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
Edmonton - Growing up in Jamaica, Anne Bates had an uneasy relationship with God. In fact, when Bates was in her mid-teens, she stopped attending church altogether. So did her whole family.
"None of us went to Mass for the next 15 or more years," Bates revealed before a crowd of 100 Sept. 11. "But God helped me even when I didn't really know him."
Bates, a member of St. Charles Parish for the past 29 years and a mother of three, recounted her story of grace-filled conversions and miracles at the charismatic prayer breakfast at the Chateau Louis Conference Centre.
She is currently a lector and choir member at St. Charles, a lector at St. Benedict Chapel and a lay minister for the Catholic Communion service at Grace Manor.
Bates was born in Jamaica. Her father was a Jamaican Catholic, her mother an English Methodist. The family attended Catholic Mass and Bates and her two brothers were baptized and confirmed in the Catholic faith.
Suddenly, the Bates abandoned their faith and went without God for years. Bates, however, reverted to her childhood faith after she and her husband Roger moved to Edmonton in the mid-1970s.
"It was in the spring of 1981 that I first felt a call to start going back to church," she said at the breakfast. "We had everything but there was still emptiness."
Bates attended a Good Friday service at St. Charles Church in 1981 but felt strange. Nobody spoke to her. "I felt like I didn't belong and I didn't come back."
But at Christmas that year she felt the call again and so she took her eldest daughter and went to Christmas Eve Mass.
This time a friendly, engaging priest made her feel welcome. She started to volunteer and to attend Mass regularly.
"As I became more and more involved and felt that I belonged in the Church, I started to gradually change, to become a gentler, kinder person," Bates recalled.
Nine months after returning to her faith, Bates entered the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. "I was becoming a much happier person now that I was growing in faith."
Her husband followed her and joined the RCIA the following year. He was welcomed into the faith in 1985. The Bates' children grew in grace too, receiving the sacraments and becoming altar servers.
Soon Bates' parents began attending church and two years later her then 69-year-old mother, a Methodist, decided to join the RCIA and convert to the Catholic Church, sponsored by her 73-year-old Catholic husband.
"Within five years of my Good Friday Mass in 1981, we were all attending church and involved in ministry, and there had been two conversions to the faith," Bates said at the breakfast.
When Bates' dad fell ill in September 1996, the whole parish prayed for him until he got better. When he died the following month, he died a "grace-filled death" thanks to the prayers of the community and to the parish priest who prepared him for a holy death.
Later that year, Bates went into what she termed a "desert experience," a two-year period of "absolute spiritual dryness." She still went to church and prayed, but "there was no sense of God." She felt empty.
In the spring of 1998 she was invited to attend a Life in the Spirit seminar, which she said changed her life. "I started to experience a great closeness to the Lord, knowing him to be right by me at all times," she said.
"So here I was (in) 1998. I had already been a good Catholic Christian for 16 or so years and I felt that I had just been reborn - I had just started living."
She took courses at Newman Theological College and through her prayer group she studied the Elijah House Inner Healing program, which continued her interior healing while providing her with tools to help others.
"I was just delighting in my new personal relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit and that's when he gave me my heart's desire," she said of her lifelong desire to visit the Holy Land.
The Bates didn't have the money for such a trip, but God provided and they were able to go in 2000. Since then, they have gone on two more pilgrimages, including one to Fatima.
"Being open to the Holy Spirit and inviting the Spirit to be active in me, has made all the difference," Bates said at the prayer breakfast. "It is only with fullness of the Spirit that we can truly have a personal relationship with Jesus."
Bates possesses the gift of healing and once a woman who was suffering from a terrible pain in the centre of her palms was cured through her.
Following her talk, she spent time praying over people who wanted her healing touch. Some fell to the floor and rested in the Spirit.
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