|| Michael Dowling
My faith journey began in the Roman Catholic Church where, from an early age and doubtless aided and abetted by my Irish heritage, I exhibited a questioning faith. Later I embarked on a career in the scientific area and, during this period of education and employment, my religious questioning continued unabated. By the age of twenty four I'd had more success in asking questions than in obtaining satisfactory answers, and decided to leave the church, going absent without leave for some fifteen years.
Those fifteen years were years in which, at least for the first part, I lived oblivious of and indifferent to the God whom I subsequently came to know and love. Gratefully, God was never indifferent toward me, but instead used the negative consequences of my living to draw the unaware and indifferent me ever closer, culminating in a experience of God so profound that it shattered my previous conceptions of God, and summoned me to a quest to seek and know this personal and loving God whom I had experienced so powerfully.
My quest found me travelling through many highways and byways of the various expressions of spirituality, but slowly, inexorably, and with no little surprise, I found myself led back to where I began – the Christian faith – and to know and recognise that place as if for the first time.As I look back at my path of entry into the Uniting Church, at ever-increasing church involvement, at that day I was 'tapped on the shoulder' about ordained ministry, at my discerning of that call, at the formal studies and ministry practice which followed it, at some of the significant challenges faced during this time, I see as well a great cloud of witnesses who have influenced, supported, educated and blessed me on that journey. As I approach my ordination as a Minister of the Word in the Uniting Church, I look back with profound wonder and gratitude.