Kalore Cao remembers the moment that sparked her interest in Catholicism.
"Visiting the British Museum and encountering the ancient religious paintings made me believe there is a spirituality that is beyond human understanding and the materialistic world," says Cao, who was baptized into the Catholic Church in 2015. Cao's family is mainly influenced by the Buddhist faith and Chinese communist values. "From that point onwards seven years ago, I started thinking about the meaning of life and got interested in the faith."
This experience with religious art marked the beginning of her journey to Catholicism, which led her to the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program at Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Scarborough.
Iconographer Marianna Savaryn, left, stands with Kalore Cao, right, at the Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies at the University of Toronto's St. Michael's College, where Cao studied iconography techniques.
Every year, a convert's road to the faith culminates in their being received into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil. In 2018, approximately 1.500 people became Catholic in the Archdiocese of Toronto.
For Cao, art is the common thread woven throughout her path to Catholicism. She is currently studying illustration at OCAD University, and learned to create illustrations of icons under guidance from the Discalced Carmelite friars in Canada.
"The Provincial Delegate of the Discalced Carmelites order, Fr. Dominic Borg, introduced and encouraged me to write the icon as it is the 'window to heaven' that brings divine knowledge to the people. I enjoy sharing the faith through the images as they convey the direct message, which is a great tool for Gospel proclamation."
It was also the Church's focus on charity that appealed to her. "The dedicated religious sisters who sacrificially undertook so many social works in society greatly attracted me to Catholicism. By imitating their charitable deeds, I believe more justice can be brought to this world."
Looking forward, Cao is exploring the possibility of offering activities for Catholic students at her university.
"Converting to Catholicism is not the end of the spiritual journey, but a milestone of the truth-seeking process."