Following is the testimony of Benedetta Donoran, presented before the Holy Father’s talk to priests, religious, consecrated men, and women, seminarians and catechists in Bangkok on November 22, 2019.
Testimony of Benedetta Donoran
My name is Benedetta Jongrak Donoran (Tee) and I was born in 1975. I have been baptized in 2012 and I am now a postulant in the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mary – Xaverians.
In my family, everybody is a Buddhist and they all live according to the Buddhist teachings that I also used to believe in: to do good is what frees us and what brings us to heaven. Those who do good will receive good. Why should Jesus take the consequences of our sins in our stead?
While I was studying, I had a chance to go once to the Immaculate Conception Church that is in my village. At that time I was 15 and the sisters of the Daughters of Charity invited us girls for the Sunday Mass. I went there with my friends and when I entered the church I saw the statue of a woman. I did not know who she was but I was struck by her beauty and her way of looking at me. Then I saw the image of a crucified man. It scared me. From that day on I started attending the Sunday Mass on my own will. I was attracted by the beauty of that woman and I wanted to know her better. This is how I started knowing Mary and Jesus more and more. I did not believe that Jesus was God, though, and I asked myself how can a man erase the sins of other men. I had a lot of trust in Mary. I prayed the rosary that was taught to me by the sisters and I used to attend the Sunday celebrations with the Christians.
I continued studying and working in the same school. Then, at 33 years old, I decided to resign following my ideal to dedicate myself to the good of society as a volunteer teacher going to the mountain villages. I was on my way when, in Chiang Mai, I met fr. Raffaele Manenti, a Pime missionary. So I decided to go with him to work at Angels’ Home, a house for handicapped children which is under the supervision of Our Lady of Mercy Church in the Nonthaburi Province and that was run by the Missionaries of Mary – Xaverians. After a while, out of curiosity, I went to see the group of catechumens. I wanted to know what they were doing. I learned a bit more about Jesus and I had a chance to hear the Gospel. I could feel His word working inside my heart like a blade. I was disturbed by the demands of this word. Yet, I did not want to give up. However, to keep listening to that word was like playing with fire. The feeling of uneasiness and discomfort kept growing. One night, in a state of uncomfortable half-sleep, I heard a voice that ordered me: “Go work elsewhere! Go away from these people!” Another voice said: “Tee, I love you!”This last voice brought into my heart a lot of serenity and peace.
After one year, I asked to receive baptism. The priest refused and asked me to wait some more. The truth is that I was not yet ready to receive the sacrament of baptism. I only wanted that feeling of uneasiness go away, but I was not asking for God’s mercy. Slowly slowly I came to realize that Baptism is not the fruit of one’s merit. We receive it as a gift from God.
I attended catechism classes for another year. Only then, keeling down, I asked for God’s mercy. Grace came to me as a conversion of heart. Through baptism, I died and was reborn again in the Lord Jesus Christ. I let myself be overcome by God’s love and by His patience that awaited His daughter to come back to Him. I would have never believed without having the experience of God’s love. God is love and He has manifested Himself in Jesus. I met Him. This is the good news for my life. The same good news of which Saint Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles says: “because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” The same good news for which I now want to donate my life.
I will continue to seek God’s will. I thank Him for the great gift of His Son and the Holy Spirit that enlightened my life and for sending missionaries to be witnesses to His love here in Thailand. Truly, the Word of God is not simply a word written in a book but it is a Word that has life and gives life.