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My Search for God

By Stevan Covic

I am not Catholic, but on my wedding day, a Catholic priest dubbed me a “Searcher for God.” This is the story of my search.

I was raised by atheists in a (then) communist country in Eastern Europe. Even though we were atheists, we honored Catholic customs and traditions. My wife, on the other hand, was born and raised Catholic. We met on September 1, 1996—the first day of high school. Jelena was the prettiest girl in my class, and I soon realized she was also the smartest. Being a somewhat shy and insecure young man, it took me almost a year to ask her out; by that time, we were already best friends. 

Not long into our dating, tragedy struck as Jelena’s father died in a car accident. Perhaps unconsciously trying to fill a void that had been created in their lives, Jelena, her sister, and their mother would go to the local orphanage and take in children for a weekend. They would take them to the zoo and playgrounds and return them after the weekend was over. On one particular occasion, they invited me, and I obliged. 

The experience will be etched in my memory as long as I live. As Jelena and I entered a room, about 15 to 20 children stormed us with smiling faces. They started pulling our trousers, asking: “Will you be my daddy? Will you take me home?” They smiled the whole time but with a kind of deep sadness, as if they knew this was their only way out of there, their only way to be truly loved. It was soul-crushingly, gut-wrenchingly sad. When we stepped outside, I told Jelena: “If we ever end up married, for every child of our own, we have to adopt one from here.” The feeling was mutual and we kind of made an unofficial pact. 

The way we would eventually honor it was something completely different indeed.

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