Prayer is a tool that Catholics should always use — this was the message that was given by speakers at the Wellington Eucharistic Convention.

Some 400 Catholics attended the Wellington Eucharistic Convention held on March 5, 2017 at St Patrick’s College, Silverstream.

The convention theme was, “Pray, Pray a lot”, an instruction given by Our Blessed Mother to the children at Fatima 100 years ago this year, said Ted Jordan, convention organiser.

“The eucharistic convention was a great success in so many ways. Ten priests heard Confessions during the Holy Hour, and before the final Mass people queued to be enrolled into the Brown Scapular,” he said.

Five international speakers shared their life stories and how prayer had impacted their lives.

Australian Mathew Sullivan, a former drug addict who had a massive spiritual conversion, told the audience how he overcame his traumatic experiences as a child and of his journey to faith.

His parents split up when he was 12. His mother remarried and the marriage didn’t sit well with his sister. His mother and sister fought all the time.

“I was hopeless and helpless and a bit scared. Over time, that trauma turned to anger that began to build in me,” Mr Sullivan said.

When he was 16, he became “so angry that I called in the devil and asked me to kill me and take me”.

He turned to drugs and at 21, he was doing heroin. By the age of 27, he attempted suicide.

“I heard a loud voice that called out to me, ‘Stop, this is not the way’. After I heard this, it’s like an invisible force took over me and I started to bandage myself up,” he said.

He spent a number of years at a drug rehabilitation centre. That was the start of his journey to conversion.

Another near-death experience from a thyroid cancer surgery caused him to search for the meaning of his life. He tried different religions.

“But finally, Christ drew me to him. After I chose to come home to God, to Jesus, I started to have some problems,” he said.

Mr Sullivan said his body felt like an ashtray and he was consumed by filthy thoughts until he came across some Catholics who taught him how to pray the rosary. A priest later told him that it was the devil who didn’t want to let go of Mr Sullivan.

“It was through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Our Lady of Fatima, that I began to conquer the evil that lay within me,” he said.

Another speaker at the convention, Fr Dishan Candappa from Melbourne explained the two categories of prayer: vocal and mental/contemplative.

Vocal prayer, he said, is when we use words to pray. The best example, of course, is the Our Father, he said.

“In contemplative prayer, we are actually spending time with God, not so much asking for our needs, but spending time in the company of God as with a friend. We are sitting there in awe of God and allowing God to speak to our souls,” Fr Candappa said.

The other speakers included Raymond De Souza, Melbourne Mint CEO Peter August and artist Tommy Canning.