Tammy Peterson with her husband Jordan and her friend Queenie Yu, by her side. Tammy Peterson was confirmed in front of a packed Holy Rosary Church in Toronto at the Easter Vigil Mass on March 30. She joined 11 catechumens who were confirmed and three who were baptized. (Sheila Nonato photos)

Tammy Peterson confirmed in front of fellow parishioners at Toronto Catholic Church

By Sheila Nonato

TORONTO- Canadian podcaster and cancer survivor Tammy Maureen Peterson stood with eight other catechumens and their sponsors Saturday night in front of a packed crowd of hundreds of fellow parishioners at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in midtown Toronto where three were baptized and 12 were confirmed as Roman Catholics.

Peterson received the triple blessing of sacraments: her first confession before the Easter Vigil, then the sacraments of confirmation and her first Holy Communion (receiving a low-gluten host due to living with celiac disease).

She had been baptized as a Protestant but was non-practising after she stopped attending Sunday school as a child. She remembers as a child seeing her Polish Catholic great-grandmother with her rosary every day, which sparked an interest in Mary that later grew into a devotion to the Rosary. Tammy now prays with the same rosary, which was passed down to her grandmother and then to her cousin, who sent it to her when she heard that Tammy was ill.

Father Peter Turrone celebrates the Easter Vigil Mass at Holy Rosary Church in Toronto as Dr. Jordan Peterson and his wife Tammy hold candles.

After the Easter Vigil, Tammy told The B.C. Catholic that her confirmation as a Catholic meant a new call to a more public role, including through her podcasts, where she will examine hot-button topics such as feminism through a countercultural lens and the inspiration of the Blessed Virgin.

“I was looking up at the stained glass tonight when there weren’t any lights on, and you can really see the image there, and we were looking at Mother Mary holding baby Jesus and the Crucifixion beneath, and we were talking about how this was the message of the female hero. If Christ is the male hero, then Mother Mary, having this baby, knowing what’s going to happen, that’s the female hero,” she said.

Peterson, who celebrated her 63rd birthday on March 16, was accompanied by her husband, Canadian psychologist Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, who sat beside her at the church.

Father Peter Turrone blesses Dr. Jordan Peterson at Holy Rosary Church in Toronto where his wife Tammy was received into the Catholic Church.

Jordan told The B.C. Catholic that “part of the reason (Tammy) was fascinated by the Catholic Church is because of its positioning of Mary. It’s one of the things that the Catholic Church has (that is) very powerful to offer on the Christian side.”

“It’s that insistence upon the divine nature of the mother, and that’s something the West desperately needs,” Jordan said.

Holy Rosary pastor Father Peter Turrone poured water over the heads of the three candidates entering the Church and baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

For the 12 who were confirmed, he made a Sign of the Cross on each of their foreheads with the sacred chrism oil to impart the gift of the Holy Spirit. He also placed his hands upon each of them to represent the conferral of the Holy Spirit from the Apostles. The congregation followed with a public recitation and renewal of their baptismal promises.

Father Turrone told The B.C. Catholic that he is encouraging the catechumens to continue to grow in their faith.

Tammy Peterson with her confirmation sponsor Queenie Yu. (Laura Salem, In His Image Photo & Film)

“To each one (of the catechumens), I would say ‘Congratulations’ for having made that bold decision, to having responded to the grace of God,” he said.

“God has been calling you from the beginning of time to be part of his Church, and thank you for saying ‘Yes,’ for taking a leap of faith and for trusting in the goodness of God and Jesus’ love for you.”

It’s important for the new Catholic to remember that their faith “is a faith in the living Triune God,” he said. Regardless of the things that happen around us, “they can never take away the splendours of Jesus Christ, so stay as close as possible to Jesus Christ because you cannot live your faith alone.”

During the sacrament of confirmation, Peterson’s confirmation sponsor Queenie Yu was beaming with happiness for Peterson as she stood directly behind her.

Yu, who is a numerary member of Opus Dei and director of character education at Hawthorn School for Girls, told The B.C. Catholic that she marvelled at the hand of God working in Peterson’s life.

“Who would have known that a visit to the hospital would result in Tammy’s praying the Rosary for five weeks, then getting cured after praying to St. Josemaria Escriva for five days, and getting confirmed five years later at Holy Rosary Parish,” Yu said.

Jordan and Tammy Peterson at the Easter Vigil where Tammy was received into the Catholic Church. (Laura Salem, In His Image Photo & Film)

Her friend had been hospitalized for five weeks at Toronto General Hospital in 2019, suffering from a debilitating illness that baffled doctors. Doctors gave her and her husband the devastating news that she had a rare and aggressive cancer and gave her only 10 months to live. She underwent successful cancer surgery, with doctors removing half of her left kidney, leading to her hair falling out and her weight dropping dramatically to 90 pounds.

It was on the fifth day of praying the Novena for the Sick to Opus Dei founder St. Josemaria Escriva that she was gifted the miraculous recovery.

“You and I couldn’t have planned this. But God was behind it all,” Yu said. “And he writes the best poetry with the events in our life.”


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