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Teenage atheist found the Lord

Now she's taking the Good News to the 4 corners of the earth

Chris Miller, Western Catholic Reporter, Wetaskiwin

As high school students sometimes do, Emma Fradd got involved in the party scene. She refused to attend Mass, and rejected anything to do with the Church.

"My mom raised me as a Catholic, but when I got to high school I stopped going to church. A lot of my friends were atheist, and they had a lot of influence on me. I didn't believe in God at all," said Fradd, 20, who hails from Port Pirie, a city in South Australia.

Her brother Matt and his wife Cameron, both Catholics, invited her to stay with them in Ireland for three months. She agreed to go, seizing the opportunity to leave home. The couple went to Mass and prayed together regularly, and Fradd was never a part of that.

"My brother and I would always get into little debates about, 'Is God real? Is God not real?' He would always have an answer for me. He told me that if I wanted to know if God is real, you have to speak to him and you have to pray to him. But I was always too prideful to do that," admitted Fradd.

A parish priest in Ireland paid for her to go to Medjugorje, Bosnia, with her brother's youth group.

"I went there, and thought I'll try this and pray with Matt. I'll go to Mass, and then when nothing happens, I'm going to finally prove him wrong, prove to him that God isn't real," she said.

She prayed the Lord's Prayer and other common prayers by rote, without conviction, emotionless. But she questioned how God would take her prayers seriously when she did not believe in the words she was saying.

A priest informed her that prayer is not only about her talking to God, but it's also about God talking to her.

Fradd tried a new approach. Every day she prayed a decade of the rosary to Mary. "My prayer was pretty much, 'Mary, if God is real, prove it to me.'"

As part of her brother's job, he came to Canada from time to time for National Evangelization Teams (NET) training. In 2008, Fradd accompanied her brother to Ottawa for a couple of weeks with NET. The experience proved to be a turning point in her faith journey.

Something special

Witnessing the praise and worship, hearing the music, the singing, Fradd recognized immediately that these young people had something special. She prayed to God again, and told him that she was sick of feeling sad and alone all the time.

"I told God that I want what these people have. This was the first time I had really spoken to God as if he was real. For me, I believe that was the first time I'd really prayed."

The next day, a speaker told the NET team that God loved them. The message was nothing new to Fradd. However, a part of his message was that God killed a part of himself to save her and she tried to conceive how God would do that.

"I finally realized I'd been trying to wrap my little brain around the existence of God, but God was too big for that. I am never going to understand everything.

"It was in that moment that I knew God loves me, God is real and I was there for a reason. It was the most amazing experience of my life. My whole life turned around."

Back to confession

Fradd went to Confession for the first time in five years. She went to daily Mass and received the Eucharist again. Her days were spent with people deep into their faith.

Returning to Australia, her low point was that many of her friends, learning that she had found Christ, wanted nothing to do with her. This was a struggle for Fradd, but she stood firm and prayed every day.

She returned to Canada in August 2009, joining with NET Ministries. She worked with a NET team in Wetaskiwin from early October 2009 until May 17. Now she is back in Australia for the next two months, but will return to Canada, again working with NET's music ministry, Massive Worship.

Behind her now is the life of atheism and the partying lifestyle. Today, not only is she certain that God exists, but if one were to ask her what she wants to do with her life, she would say evangelize.



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