Too Wonderful to Keep In: A Story from the UK

Tom Storey, UK.

Tom was a lapsed cradle Catholic until the death of his father led him to the doors of St. Elizabeth of Portugal Parish, Richmond, UK.

Jacqueline Marie | May 25th, 2022

Every Saturday morning you can spot Tom Storey on the streets of Richmond, UK with his chocolate brown dog. But he isn’t just taking Rory for a walk – he is part of a homeless ministry out of the Loretto Twickenham home. Walking in a group of 4-6 other believers he talks with men and women who are on the streets and brings them tea and sandwiches. 

His involvement is motivated by his Catholic faith, that he feels is “the thing that’s central…the key thing in my life.” 

But that wasn’t always the case.

Tom grew up as a cradle Catholic, attending Catholic primary and secondary school, he saw his faith as an identifier. Until he went to university, the majority of the people he knew were also Catholic. He remembers Mass as something you got through (with the occasional promise of ice cream from his mother if he sat still).   

As an adult, his faith lapsed. 

But a few years ago, his father passed away from cancer. “That was really the thing that reawakened my faith. I started asking questions about: ‘Why? What’s it all about?’” 

It was at this time that he started going back to Mass at St. Elizabeth of Portugal Parish, Richmond, UK. But the journey from that loss and and the questions it brought, to a man that is now shaped by his faith, was “gradual.”  

St. Elizabeth of Portugal Parish has been connected with DR for six years. The Parish Priest, Father Stephen Langridge has been in coaching with DR for four. It is a parish that strives “to be a community where people are known and cared for, grow in faith together, and can use their gifts to make our world a better place.” (Web) 

“It [Divine Renovation] makes so much sense.  I mean as a parishioner who’s experienced it, it works because St. Elizabeth’s is a very energizing parish to be involved with. It’s more than just growing spiritually, which I certainly have done, but it’s the connection piece and it’s that action. The church isn’t just somewhere you go to, it’s something we’re part of, and that then has this wider impact. ”

During Tom’s first time to Mass, he met a man in his seventies named Liam. Liam was friendly and welcoming. Liam made an impact on Tom, he says: “I was drawn back by him…the faith that he had… it was just very beaming through him.”

Recently, “I was walking through town (with Rory obviously) and I bumped into one of the elderly parishioners who was quite distressed that she might miss a hospital appointment, so I took her to the hospital. It turns out Liam is very ill so we all went and visited him that afternoon. It was lovely to see him and my wife got very emotional about the love that Kristine was showing Liam by bringing him chocolates, ice cream and giving him a facial. I said to her afterwards that Jesus said, they will know you by the love you show one another.” 

Photo: Tom and his wife Lise with Liam

Over time, Tom was invited to attend Alpha at the parish. The first time, he attended when he could, but did not complete all the sessions. So he was surprised when he was asked to come back to host a table. He went on to help lead another 5 Alphas.  One day, a couple that Tom led in an online Alpha group, said to him that they saw a love of Jesus beaming through him that was drawing them back each week. It was at that moment that he saw the transformation that God had been working in his life.  

Now he does not feel right if his day does not start with his morning prayer time and scripture reading. He meets with a spiritual director regularly, is involved in ministry at the parish and reads at Mass. He finds himself talking about Jesus often. At Easter he was a stand in sponsor for a gentleman entering the faith, he sat next to the man as he wept; he said, how do you contain “something that’s that wonderful?” 

“You know, it’s just lovely for other people to experience it,” Tom continues, that faith starts “aligning all you’re thinking about. You start thinking completely differently about everything and your priorities change.” 

Tom’s life is changed and changes many around him as he spreads the love of Christ. It multiplies out, like ripples in a pond from a single stone.  

Each one of us is called to  immerse our lives in our baptismal calling like a pebble launched into a pond. As we are transformed by the waters, we cannot help but have our lives multiplied out to those around us. Because how can we bear to keep in something that is “that wonderful?”  

Rory Storey A.K.A. “Evangelization Pup”

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