That’s a strange child! I had every medal: St. Christopher, the miraculous medal, St Jude; I wore them with pride. I had a tarnished neck from wearing those medals! Then I discovered incense in Woolworth's. I had incense wafting in my room but the funny thing was it was an outward expression of something real that was happening within me. Jesus was a real person. I don't know why, but if there's one gift that God has given me in this lifetime, it's the ability to really sense His presence. It's a gift that I'm very thankful for, I have always been able to sense the presence of God at various times. I went through grammar school really into Catholicism. I began saying the rosary every day and going to Mass every day in Buffalo. It was quite a chore because it meant getting up at five o'clock and walking over snowdrifts to the church and going to Mass. But there was that energy you see, and I wanted to express it. I had this love for God that was really within me. Plus, there were good experiences that encouraged me. I'll tell you about one of them because it's very precious to me and it shows how much God was drawing me all through my life.
There is such a thing in the Catholic church as cloistered nuns. In the fifties, there were a lot of nuns. There aren't so many today. Cloistered nuns are an order of nuns who live in seclusion. They spend most of their days in prayer and contemplation and meditation. There were nuns in our neighborhood called Sisters of Mutual Adoration which meant that these women spent every minute adoring God. They lived together in a community and rotated their duties so that half of them would always be in chapel adoring the Blessed Sacrament (the Communion, the bread). Half of them would always be adoring God and the other half would be doing the community duties. My father would often go to a chapel that was connected to their chapel and the only way you could see the nuns was to go up front and kneel down at the communion rail. If you looked to the side through the grill work, you could see about fifty women all dressed in white, sitting there in prayer. That was very fascinating to me. My father would take me there and one day, I went forward and knelt down and prayed at the altar. I looked at those nuns and saw them sitting there and all of sudden, I was filled with a deep presence of God. Suddenly, there was a power that was just drawing me to God and way down deep within me, God said something to me. I'll never forget what He said (I was probably about nine years old) "Do you see those women over there?" I answered "Yes". He said, "That's what I want from you and I want you to seek Me with all of your heart like those women are seeking Me." And I said to Him, "I'll do it. I want to do it." So there were thoughts when I entered high school that maybe I wanted to become a monk, maybe a priest. I really didn't know how to put all that together. It was very confusing.
It would have been very easy to go off and become a monk as soon as possible. I had those desires, but there was something that was not permitting me to do that. I never knew what it was. Later on in my life, I found out. My Catholicism was not the end road for me as a spiritual experience. As I read more of Baba's literature, more of Baba’s "theology", as I put in quotes, I'm not sure what Catholicism was for me, but maybe it was a time for me to burn off something. But it was not the end of the road for me as a spiritual experience; it was the beginning. By the end of high school, the Church was changing, and boy, did I enjoy those changes! Just when I got ready for a change, the Church started changing. It was in the late 60's. The Catholic Church had an Ecumenical council. The Mass was changed from Latin to English, people began strumming guitars and singing folk tunes, and my consciousness was changing too. I enjoyed all of it. The whole hippie generation was there, the drugs and things like that. I never got into drugs and I never got into the hippie movement. All this escaped me, but what I did enjoy in those days at the beginning of college, was the Jesus movement. There was a lot energy and love. There was also a Jesus freak thing that started happening, so I joined in. My way of being a hippie was by going to these Jesus coffee houses. I was just starting to think "Well, there's more than just Catholicism here."