^

Cebu News

Incest survivor finds faith in Philippines

Kristine B. Quintas/FPL - The Philippine Star

CEBU, Philippines - She was four when her father started sexually abusing her. The ordeal lasted for 12 long years.

 Powerless, fragile and innocent, Marianne Servaas from Mechelen City in Belgium just kept shedding tears almost all her early age. She had no one to confess to because her mother was "seriously and terminally ill” that time.

“From an early age I had questions, some triggered by personal pain due to a history of sexual abuse… My father abused me sexually from the age of four to the age of 16,” Servaas shared to some 15,000 delegates to the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in a testimony yesterday.

Other questions, she said were more ‘theological’ in nature: “What does it mean to be Church? How does being Church relate to concrete day-to-day life? Is it true that people who do not say that they want to follow Jesus will go to hell?”

This is because she grew up and was raised in a family and context that was outspokenly anti-Catholic.

 Her grandfather from Netherlands even went to Belgium just to convince the Catholics to leave the church and become evangelicals. Servaas' grandmother was one of her grandfather's "converts." Her father and all his siblings worked as pastors or ministers of evangelical congregation.

But, Servaas found her faith in the Philippines seven years ago when she started working with an evangelical Filipino student organization at the missionary training college under the management of a Jewish Christian in Quezon City.

 She left Belgium for France and then married an Englishman and lives in England, where they joined an Angelican community.

 “As to me personally, when I began to deal with the impact of sexual abuse, I received help from an excellent therapist and woman of prayer. What I did not expect is that daily participation in the Eucharist continues to chase away even that which remains trapped deep within me and to strengthen me there where I will always remain scarred. Christ is our medicine, our healer,” she said.

 She said it was in the Philippines where she also found a profound change; where she started to appreciate beauty of the Eucharist and Eucharistic living; and where she received freedom, joy and hunger for faith after she discovered a depth in Orthodox and Catholic thinking.

“Filipinos were and are genuinely sacramental. They opened my heart to receive joy and trust in life itself, something that we have lost in my country.  More so, the joy that is almost palpably present is related to thankfulness and to humility. My country, sadly, appears to thrive but actually dies due to an absence of thankfulness,” she said.

Moreover, she became a Roman Catholic voluntarily after she fell in love with the Eucharist. Servaas said though it took her a while to discover the Eucharist’s mystery, joy and challenge for she was not born and raised as Catholic. — (FREEMAN)

ACIRC

EUCHARIST AND EUCHARISTIC

INTERNATIONAL EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS

JEWISH CHRISTIAN

MARIANNE SERVAAS

MECHELEN CITY

ORTHODOX AND CATHOLIC

QUEZON CITY

ROMAN CATHOLIC

SERVAAS

WHAT I

Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with