After being raised Presbyterian Cari became involved in the new age movement while attending Michigan State. Cari Donaldson is a wife and homeschooling mother of six residing in Connecticut.
There are parallels between conversion stories and birth stories. Both start with a tiny seed, planted in darkness, result in the birth of a new creation, and involve blood, sweat and tears. And while I resisted writing the story of my conversion to Catholicism for a long time, it seems fitting that when I finally did so, it would be toward the end of my sixth pregnancy.
While writing this has involved slightly less blood than the birth of my children, it was accompanied by yelling and tears. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to convey your experience with the Word when it refuses to fit nicely into any words. So I ask you, like all mothers presenting their newborn to the public for the first time, please overlook defects of style and appearance, and focus instead on the potential, the innocence, the love that created, sustained, and labored to bring the finished product into the world.
Mindy Goorchenko is a Catholic convert, mother of five, and nurse in Alaska.
My journey toward Catholicism began when I attended a small, intimate prayer session led by a group of college students in our evangelistic Protestant congregation. The talented young leader guided us in prayer amidst electrifying contemporary worship music. A wave was rippling through our church~~one which may have been present since ever there were youth in a church congregation. These beloved kids invited us old folk to be a part of something deeper, more authentic~~to have a true encounter with the Holy Spirit.
My children were welcome and I brought them along, dubious not so much about my own fate in the area of deep and authentic worship (I knew that it was unlikely I’d give myself wholly to the Spirit while peeking out from one eye at them the entire time) but whether anyone else would be able to with my several young children present. Indeed, as I lifted my own arms in praise of God, my opportunistic six year old immediately reached up and tickled my armpits. This consequently distracted me, and I decided to take my dancing, whooping youngsters out of the room. We played for an hour in the gymnasium at the church~~to simply engage in our vocations called motherhood and childhood.
Ron Doub was a life-long Lutheran but after 15 years of trying to convert his Catholic wife to Lutheranism, the tables got turned. Now Ron, a former computer-industry professional, evangelizes the faithful organizing parish pilgrimages to Catholic shrines in the US and throughout the world. In addition to his pilgrimage ministry, Ron also promotes Lighthouse Catholic Media CDs and the EWTN Media Missionary program in parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He is also a member at both the Legion of Mary and a Catholic men’s group at St. Mary Catholic Church in Hagerstown, Maryland.
Why Am I Catholic? Well, it was never my intention but I always tell people that the Holy Spirit has a great sense of humor and I’m living proof! Here’s my story!
PART I – A LUTHERAN’S JOURNEY TO THE CHURCH
I was born and raised in a wonderful Lutheran (ELCA) family in Williamsport, Maryland, a small town in western Maryland. My parents were very active in the Lutheran church teaching Sunday school, confirmation, vacation bible school and more. In fact after my father’s death, my mother went to Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary and was ordained a Lutheran pastor in 1985.
I was also very active in the Lutheran church throughout my high school years, which culminated in me being confirmed and becoming the president of the church youth group, the Luther League, for two years.
Renée Lin joined the Catholic Church in 2003 after a lifetime in Evangelical Protestant. Renée currently works in research at a medical practice in central Virginia.
“The Bible says it…. I believe it…. that settles it!”
If Thomas Road Baptist Church had an unofficial mantra back in the 1990s, that probably would have been it. Dr. Jerry Falwell was fond of saying that, and I enjoyed hearing it. I took the Bible seriously, very seriously, and if Scripture made a pronouncement on an issue, it seemed only reasonable to me to take those verses as literally as possible and to act upon them. If a Christian couldn’t base his life on the Word of God, then what else was there?
One Sunday morning when Dr. Falwell proclaimed that “everything we believe and do here at Thomas Road comes straight from Scripture,” I took that seriously, too. Everything we believe and do…. Everything?
Jaymie Stuart Wolfe
Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a convert to the Catholic faith who entered the Church in 1983. Her apostolate, Loaves and Fishes, is dedicated to teaching, evangelism and prayer through word and song.
I was baptized Catholic, but raised, Confirmed and Communicated in the Episcopal Church because my parents had both been divorced and remarried. My mother and I attended a Billy Graham Crusade the summer before I entered the 6th grade. That event introduced us to a personal relationship with Jesus which led to our joining an Evangelical Free church with a choir, Bible studies, and a dynamic youth ministry. I graduated from a Catholic girls' High School. Then, I left home for college.
When I became a Roman Catholic, I became the unimaginable—at least what had been up until that point, unimaginable to me. There was no reason to make a drastic move like that. After all, I had Christ. I certainly didn't need anything else. Both faith and Scripture were in my back pocket. Aside from my ambitions and goals, Jesus was the focus of my life. In my teens, it was easy for me to believe that even my unquenchable drive for success, somehow, served Him. Freelancing faith seemed like the best of this world and the next. But a series of experiences over the course of five years added up to convince me otherwise, so much so, that on the Vigil of Easter in 1983, at St. Paul's Church, as a senior at Harvard, I came into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
Brett grew up and was baptized in a traditional First Southern Baptist Church in the Heartland. But a chance invitation from his grandmother to Christmas Mass 1998 sparked a 13-year struggle and journey that resulted in his acceptance, along with wife of 15 years, Jessica, into full communion with the Church on the Feast of Christ the King, 2011. Brett is active in the parish of St. Monica in Edmond, Oklahoma, and serves in various conservative Catholic organizations and institutions.
Approaching the Water
I was born and raised in a more or less Southern Baptist home. As a young boy my first recollections of church were at First Southern Baptist of Guthrie, OK, where I ultimately accepted Christ and was baptized at the age of nine. From there we moved to Clinton, OK, where we were very active at FSB-Clinton and I was among the 'Youth Leadership Council'. It was there that I had my first taste of legalism as I thought my debt to God for his mercy was to lead a holy life...and to impose holiness on those around me.
My family later moved back to Edmond, OK, in my eighth-grade year, but we did not immediately re-engage in a church. It was not until my college years that my parents rejoined the Community Baptist Church after it had split off from the FSB Guthrie due to internal conflicts. But that was well after I had met Jessica (my bride-to-be), and I was already in deep introspection about faith along with my involvement in Campus Crusade for Christ. Shortly thereafter in the winter of 1998, I learned my paternal grandmother had converted to Catholicism. I was livid.
Vivien is a nursing student at the University of Minnesota and a convert from the Baptist tradition who was welcomed into the Catholic Church at the 2012 Easter Vigil.
Growing up, my family was never really religious or spiritual. We owned Bibles and celebrated Easter and Christmas, but we didn't read said Bibles and the holidays were more about presents than what God did for His people on those days. And we definitely never went to church, unless my younger brother's choir was singing at a service. I wouldn't say I was atheist, and my parents definitely weren't, but they did not share their faith or teach me anything about God. I'd heard about Jesus and knew that He had died on the cross, but I didn't really understand why and had no idea how important that fact was. My mom had grown up Baptist, so that's what I claimed I was whenever one of my friends would ask me. I had a happy early childhood, with parents who were super involved in my activities and spent time with us kids.
Fr. Dwight Longenecker
Fr. Dwight Longnecker is a former Anglican minister who entered the Roman Catholic Church alongside his family in 1995. Fr. Dwight is an author, speaker, and parish priest serving at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Greenville, South Carolina.
From Bob Jones University to the Catholic Church
by Dwight Longenecker
Taking dramatic steps of faith runs in the family. In the eighteenth century my Mennonite ancestors left Switzerland for the new colony of Pennsylvania to find religious freedom. Seven generations later my part of the family were still in Pennsylvania, but they had left the Mennonites, and I was brought up in an Bible church which was part of a loose-knit confederation of churches called the Independent Fundamental Churches of America.
The independent Bible church movement was an offshoot of that conservative group of Christians who were disenchanted with the liberal drift of the main Protestant denominations in the post-war period. The same independent movement saw the foundation of a fundamentalist college in the deep South by the Methodist evangelist Bob Jones. After World War II my parents and aunts and uncles went to study there and it was natural for my parents to send me and my brothers and sisters there in the 1970s.
Todd is a former Southern Baptist who converted to the Catholic Church in 1999, four years after graduating from Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. He now lives in Louisville, Kentucky with his wife Wendy and their two young children, and works in the field of social services. He and his family are parishioners at St. Bernadette Catholic Church.
A Southern Baptist Liberty University alumni becomes Catholic
Every spiritual life is a journey. Mine began in Warner Robins, Georgia in 1971. I was born into a good Methodist family and had a strong Christian foundation laid for me in childhood. But unfortunately, as is all too common, during my teenage years I drifted away somewhat from this good foundation and was lukewarm at best towards Christianity. I still attended weekly church services and youth group activities, but my interests were mainly in having fun with my friends and having a spiritual life was far from my mind.
On August 14, 2011, at the age of 54, Russell Stutler joined the Catholic Church after being an evangelical Protestant his entire life. Russell currently resides in Tokyo, Japan.
I was raised in a Protestant Christian home in Akron, Ohio, and we went to church every Sunday. During my childhood my family changed churches several times. We went to the Lutheran Church, Church of the Nazarene (where I promised God I would become a missionary someday), United Methodist Church (where I was baptized), Presbyterian Church, and a non-denominational evangelical mega-church called the Chapel in University Park where I became a member in my early 20s. It was a great teaching church, and I studied the Bible and memorized parts of it, which was the norm for members of that church. I studied New Testament Greek on my own so I could get at the underlying nuances in the text. I was very active in fellowship and evangelism programs, and my sense of calling to be a missionary was re-kindled there. I even went to Japan on a summer missionary program in 1983.
Steve is a Catholic speaker, author, pilgrimage guide, and frequent guest on EWTN. The proud father of four, Steve lives with his wife Janet in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
I can still smell the green vinyl of the used couch in our living room as I knelt with my mom, with my face buried in my hands and my nose pressed into the vinyl. She had decided I was old enough — after all I was four years old. She didn't want to wait any longer. She was eager.
When I was born I was taken to the front of Joy Road Baptist Church in Detroit Michigan held aloft and dedicated to Christ. I did not receive infant baptism. The thought of baptizing an infant was repugnant. Where do you find that in the Bible? That was a surely a man-made Catholic tradition.
My parents had "found Christ" less than a year earlier. After twelve years of painful miscarriages my parents had discovered Jesus through the preaching of Billy Graham. The radio was on one morning as my mother was getting ready to go shopping. With keys in one hand and purse in the other she stopped in the kitchen before heading out the door. She heard something she's never heard before.
Rebekah Durham Hart
Rebekah is a stay-at-home mom and blogger who converted to Catholocism in 2006. She lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband and three children.
An Unlikely Convert
I was drawn to the Catholic Church while attending a Presbyterian seminary during my mid-twenties. As the daughter of a United Methodist minister, I was raised in an orthodox, evangelical home and naively assumed that the majority of mainline Protestant seminarians believed just as we did. At the very least, I reasoned, they could affirm the tenets of the Apostle's Creed, which I had always believed were the defining doctrines of the Christian faith. I was unprepared for the onslaught of theological liberalism and cavalier abandonment of personal piety that awaited my arrival.
Kathleen is a baker, writer and editor who reverted to Catholicism on the Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in October 1997. She is an Oblate at St. Benedict Abbey in Still River, MA. She lives near Boston and her two sons are grown and living on their own.
I remember it clearly. My husband and I decided to leave the Church, and we invited his Catholic parents over to justify ourselves. It was 1990 and we recently had our first son. With him on my hip, I stood in front of my mother-in-law and addressed the topic of abortion. Acerbic and ignorant, I asked, "Who does the Catholic Church think they are, telling me I can't have an abortion if I want one?" "Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on me."
Lou Everett, Jr.
Lou Everett was one of Jehovah's Witnesses for more than 14 years. During that time, he served as a full-time minister as well as other major roles within the congregation. Lou's journey to the Catholic Church was truly a rough road traveled.
From Jehovah's Witnesses to Catholicism: My Journey
In 2005, I find myself inside a Catholic church for midnight mass. My future wife, born and raised in the Catholic Church, by my side; silently showing me something that I never thought I'd see or feel. At the age of 31, a realization set in that I never would have expected to occur – thus begins another part of my journey to the Church, my home.
Peering back into my childhood, I realize that my journey actually began as a child. My father was in the military so our family traveled around quite a bit. I was born in San Francisco, California while my father was stationed there in the Army in 1974. Both of my parents are 'cradle' Catholics and had very different experiences with the Catholic Church. Throughout the various moves from place to place, my parents were contacted by Jehovah's Witnesses. Their message seemed to touch my parents enough to eventually become baptized in 1984 as Jehovah's Witnesses.
Eric began his study of the Catholic faith in 1991 as an Methodist/Evangelical Protestant, converting to the Catholic Church in 1993. Eric is married and has six children.
From Ignorance to Bliss
My Journey to the Catholic Church
Manicured lawns, kids playing in the streets, and dads barbequing in the summer: I grew up in the quintessential suburban American neighborhood. Each family was similar to the next, having the same values and outlook and each relatively the same size. One family on my street, however, broke the mold. Instead of the standard two or three children, this family had seven. I remember asking my mother why that family was so large, and her simple answer was, "Oh, they're Catholic." Knowing little of Catholicism and even less of how children were conceived, I figured that these "Catholics" must have a better relationship with the stork than the rest of us.
Though I'd learn soon enough how babies came to be, my ignorance of Catholicism persisted, mingled with some minor, usually stereotypical, details. I knew that Catholics took a different view of alcohol than the folks at my church, and I heard rumors that they had even added a few books to their bibles, but in general I was woefully ignorant of this church - it may have had over a billion members, but I personally knew very few of them.
Born into a nominal Catholic family, Shane was only 13 when he experienced a profound crisis of faith. Judaism, the New Age, Billy Graham, the charismatic movement - all play a part in this teenage story of God's grace and fully embracing the Catholic Faith.
Taken to School by the Spirit (and the Bride)
Why am I Catholic? There's a loaded question. In The God Who is Love: Explaining Christianity From Its Center I gave the 116,000 word response. I realize you're pressed for time however, so let me give you the "A,B,G,Z" version as opposed to the "A through Z"! Let me start by telling you why I am a Christian. My story begins in grade school, with a classmate's question:
"Do Jewish people believe in Jesus?" At first, I couldn't believe he'd asked that. I saw our religion teacher roll her eyes; you would think that a seventh grader at a Catholic school would have known the answer. Our hostess at Congregation Shaar Emeth was very gracious though, "We reformed Jews believe Jesus was a prophet. We do not, however, believe that he was the Messiah. When we read our Scriptures, what Christians call the 'Old Testament,' we don't see Jesus in the prophecies. We interpret them differently and believe that Messiah is still to come. Another way our belief differs from Christians is that we don't believe God will become human. Messiah will be a human being just like you and I." Of course Jewish people didn't believe Jesus was the Messiah; didn't everyone know that?
Katie is home schooling mother of three, avid reader, catholic blogger and lover of education.
Since becoming Catholic, I have been asked numerous times, WHY??? Why are you doing this? Many Catholics have asked with excitement in their voices, and my non-Catholic family and friends have asked with dismay.
Interestingly, no one asks void of emotion. I was talking with a friend who recently converted, and I was telling him about my mother's belief that the Catholic Church is Satan's greatest triumph in all of history. He replied, "It has to be either Satan's greatest triumph, or Christ's greatest triumph. There is no neutral ground when it comes to the Catholic Church." Truth. The same applies to people I talk to about my conversion; there is no neutral ground. They are either excited or dismayed.
So what led to this decision? Often, when I try to tell this story, it is too overwhelming. How do you describe eight years of reading, discussing, listening, and journeying? My worldview gradually shifted, and it is difficult to put into words what happened in my mind and my heart. There are a few landmark times in my journey that I will try to highlight.
Kathy Frein is a convert to Catholicism from the Baptist faith. 25 years after entering the Church, peers challenging her daughter's convictions caused Kathy to look deeper into her own faith and rediscover Christ and His Church.
Why Am I a Catholic?
When I began to contemplate this task, I considered what its title would be. I thought about making it declarative and writing "Why I Am a Catholic." Then I became more introspective and began to consider the question "Why Am I Catholic?" It has been a personal examination of my faith that finally led me to an understanding of beliefs of the Catholic Church. What joy there is in discovering the Truth!
I've been a Christian since I was ten years old when I expressed a belief in Jesus Christ, was baptized, and joined the little Baptist Church in Monroe, Arkansas during a "fire and brimstone" revival in the late 1960's. I've been a Catholic Christian for the last 26 years. I joined the Roman Catholic Church the year after I married my cradle Catholic husband. I joined the church for a good reason even though it may not have been the right reason. I wanted our family to worship together and my husband and his family had been long time members of our local parish so I felt I should follow his spiritual leadership.
Joe grew up in the Church of Christ but fell away and became agnostic in his teens. He joined the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil of 1999 and was married, to his lovely wife Michelle, in September of 2000. Joe is active in new media ministry under the pseudoname "The Catholic Hack" and coordinates Catholic family conferences full time for Fullness of Truth Catholic Evangelization Ministries in Houston TX.
"From Slavery to Sonship"
St Luke 15:1: And he said, "There was a man who had two sons; 12: and the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.' And he divided his living between them.
I too took my inheritance from my father in an untimely fashion. It was 1980 and my father, who was serving in the Army, had just been stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. I was six years old, and I began to recognize the very peculiar and confusing behavior he had towards my mother. At the time I didn't understand what he was doing, but I knew that the way he was treating her was just not right.
What I didn't know was that my father was addicted to pornography, and sexual promiscuity, and he imposed this world-view upon my mother, treating her like an object of use instead of a person. Needless to say, this kind of abuse led to a divorce leaving my sister and me hurt, confused, and bewildered. All we wanted was our parents together under the same roof, even if they were always at each others' throats. My father always complained that my mother didn't "meet his needs," but it was still far better than living through divorce.
Jason is a lawyer and Evangelical convert to Catholicism who entered the Church in the Summer of 2011. He lives in the suburbs of Washington DC with his wife Nikki and four children. You can read Nikki's conversion story (from the Baptist tradition) here.
As a lifelong evangelical Protestant, I am right now at a place I never thought I would be, having just entered the Catholic Church with my wife and kids at the Feast of the Assumption in August. How I "came home" is difficult to explain. As many Catholic converts have commented, "all roads lead to Rome," which makes it hard to know where to start the story.
Before anything else, though, I must give thanks that I was raised in a Christian home. Because of that, I can't remember a time that I did not believe that Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried, and that on the third day He rose again from the dead. I also was always taught that I should follow Jesus no matter where He led. And, so, from that time to now, although there have been detours and a number of twists and turns, I've had this sense that I've been chasing Him. It was only as I came closer to the Catholic Church, however, that I felt that He--to an unimaginably greater extent--had been pursuing me.
Nikki converted to the Catholic Church from the Baptist tradition in the Summer of 2011. In addition to being a stay at home mom she is also working on obtaining her Master's degree in theology. Nikki lives in the suburbs of Washington DC with her husband Jason and four children. You can read Jason's conversion story (from the Evangelical tradition) here.
Like most converts to Catholicism, I would have never guessed in a million years that I would be where I am today, having just been received into the Catholic Church on the Feast of the Assumption. And like many converts, it's hard to know where to begin, since there are so many things that pointed Jason and I toward the Church.
To go back to the beginning, I was a Cradle Roll Baptist. We went to services every Sunday morning and evening, and I attended Sunday school faithfully. On Wednesday nights I was a Pioneer Girl, filling up my little blue sash with every badge I could get. Later when our church began the Awana program I flew through each level, memorizing as many verses as I could. In high school I was an Awana Cubby leader and enjoyed helping the little 3 and 4 year olds learn their verses. I was there whenever our youth group did service projects and missions trips. I was about as involved as a kid could be and I loved the fact that our youth group had a number of "on fire" and really committed kids who inspired my faith.
Maolsheachlann O Ceallaigh
Maolsheachlann is the founder of the GK Chesterton Society of Ireland and is a revert to the Catholic faith from atheism. He currently resides in Dublin Ireland.
The most astonishing aspect of most reversion stories—and mine is no exception—is how little cradle Catholics think about the faith they inherit, or indeed about the very nature of their existence, until they hit some spiritual crisis. Somehow, for years on end, we manage to toddle along through this gob smacking experience called life without wondering very much about how we got here, or whether it means anything. We imbibe a set of stories about a God-man who died and rose from the dead two thousand years ago, without being too bothered about whether it's true or not.
Dr. Ronda Chervin
Ronda converted to the Catholic Faith from a Jewish, though atheistic, background and has been a Professor of Philosophy and Theology at Loyola Marymount University, the Seminary of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is a widow, mother, and grandmother.
by Ronda Chervin, Ph.D.
"I have called you by name, you are mine!" (Isaiah 43:1)
Thinking back, I imagine that my twin-sister and I were among the most alienated little children in New York City. I have never met anyone with our peculiar background. We were the children, born in 1937, of unmarried parents who met in the Communist party, but had left it shortly before our birth to become informers for the FBI. Apparently enraged communists threatened to bomb our cradle.
Both father and mother, though militant atheists, had Jewish backgrounds, but neither had been brought up as Jews – not even observing high holidays at home or at a synagogue.
Once cynical of Catholicism, Chad's journey to the Catholic faith was difficult, but it led to intense study and deep personal reflection which brought him home to the Catholic Church. He now hopes to share the lessons he learned and the beauty of the Catholic Tradition with those around him.
Growing up in a suburb of Chicago, my parents raised me in the Lutheran faith. My parents were not the most spiritual of people, but they wanted to make sure that my siblings and I were "exposed" to faith. Basically, the concept was to introduce us to Christianity but allow us to make our own decisions. After being confirmed, I never went back.
For years, I was agnostic at best. Based on what I was learning in school, religion did not make any sense to me. Science had become my religion of sorts, and science seemed completely opposed to what I had learned in Sunday school. My analytic mind led me closer to science, and further from faith. To believe in God, I needed proof that he existed. Not finding it, by the time I left high school, I went from agnostic to full-blown cynic.
Jennifer Fulwiler is a writer from Austin, Texas who converted to Catholicism after a life of atheism.
How the Search for Truth Led Me from Atheism to Catholicism
One thing I could never get on the same page with my fellow atheists about was the idea of meaning. The other atheists I knew seemed to feel like life was full of purpose despite the fact that we're all nothing more than chemical reactions. I could never get there. In fact, I thought that whole line of thinking was unscientific, and more than a little intellectually dishonest. If everything that we call heroism and glory, and all the significance of all great human achievements, can be reduced to some neurons firing in the human brain, then it's all destined to be extinguished at death. And considering that the entire span of homo sapiens' existence on earth wouldn't even amount to a blip on the radar screen of a 5-billion-year-old universe, it seemed silly to pretend like the 60-odd-year life of some random organism on one of trillions of planets was something special. (I was a blast at parties.)
Leonard L. Adams, Jr.
FROM PAIN TO PEACE
Leonard Adams converted to the Catholic faith in 2010. His story is a journey from Pentecostalism to Judaism to the New Age Movement to Atheism to Catholicism.
I was born in the ghettoes of Chicago's South Side in 1961. My first memories are of dilapidated apartments, window frames without windows, trash strewn on the streets, urine-soaked alleys, and a neglected-derived independence. As a three-, four-, and five-year-old, I remember many times coming and going from the apartment my mother, siblings and I shared while my mother, an active alcoholic at that time, had friends over from morning till night – days filled with card games, cigarette smoke and all the beer and vodka they could want. I remember someone giving me beer as a four- or five-year-old after having dumped fresh cigarette ashes in it, saying that the ashes made you get "higher."
"Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you." Is 49:15
My mother died when I was 5. Her death shattered my world. I'm sure she never forgot us but I felt forgotten. I was one of seven. My father later married a widow of 4 and had 4 more for a total of 15 children. In the town where we grew up, this was way too many children.
We were Catholic in a town that believed Catholics got it all wrong. I was a social misfit. I was often told, "You know all you Catholics are going to hell don't you?" Our prayer life consisted of Mass, Stations of the Cross and reciting formal memorized prayers (like the rosary). I usually spent the time "counting down" the prayers rather than actually praying. I paid little attention to the words. I knew nothing of the Bible. I was poorly catechized and poorly formed, but God had not forgotten about me.
R. J. Stove lives in Melbourne, Australia. The son of the late prominent atheist, David Stove, R.J. converted to Catholicism as an adult in 2002.
The upbringing I underwent in New South Wales, Australia —partly in Sydney, but mainly in the village of Mulgoa— was one of complete, although predominantly quiet and civil, atheism. Both my parents (who are now dead) spent their childhood as Presbyterians, but shed religious belief soon after attaining adulthood.
My father was the philosopher and political polemicist David Stove. During his undergraduate years, he fell under the spell of the militantly atheistic guru John Anderson of the University of Sydney's philosophy department. Except that "fell under" seems a much too gentle phrase to describe what my father and thousands like him experienced at Anderson's none-too-scrupulous—and, where females were concerned, lecherous—hands.
Dr. David Daintree
Dr. David Daintree is the president of Campion College, Australia's first traditional liberal arts college. David has been married to his wife Elizabeth for over thirty years and they have three grown children.
Crossing the Alps
I want to talk about my own spiritual journey, a major part of which was the crossing of the Alps – I speak figuratively – from Canterbury to Rome, and the influences on my life that led me to make it.
Lorraine is a Catholic revert and ex-feminist who returned to the faith of her childhood after 25 years an atheist.
I Was a Teenage Feminist: My Journey Back to Mother Church
I was in the newsstand of the Miami bus terminal, my saddle oxfords a bit scuffed and my
uniform crumpled after a steamy day of classes, when I spotted something that utterly horrified me.
It was not an X-rated book or magazine, but something much worse, "Why I Am Not a Christian" by Bertrand Russell.
After spending 20 years in various Protestant denominations Brad Schilling found his home in the Catholic Church. Brad lives in Bunbury, Western Australia with his wife Marina and their three children.
Sometime in February 2010 I decided to attend a Catholic Mass. After 20 years of being a Protestant Christian I had come to the point where I could no longer bring myself to attend another church service. Over the years I had been a part of over 10 different denominations as well as helped to begin an Anabaptist like house-church. I was tired of wanting church to be more than a service that I watched. I remember thinking that Sunday morning, "Well, if Church is no more than the Sunday service then I will go to where they do it properly."
Laura is an educator and freelance writer in Calgary, Canada.
The road to Catholicism for new converts is as varied as the personalities of converts themselves. Mine came by means of the sublimely cracked perspective of a neurological disorder called Tourette Syndrome.
Raised in a mainstream Protestant church, I found myself drawn to evangelical circles in early adult life by the zeal and commitment I found there. Active church involvement, university, marriage, three kids and a fulfilling career in education filled the years that followed. Time sailed along at the hectic pace of most young families, until our youngest son, Peter, started having marked difficulty coping with the normal, everyday stresses of school life.
R. R. Reno is the editor of "First Things" magazine, teaches theology at Creighton University and is the author of In the Ruins of the Church: Sustaining Faith in an Age of Diminished Christianity (Brazos). Rusty converted to the Catholic Church from the Episcopal tradition in the fall of 2004. This reflection was written in the winter of 2005.
On a Saturday in mid-September of last year, the feast day of St. Robert Bellarmine, I was received into the Catholic Church. I pledged to believe and profess all that the Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God. The priest anointed me with the oil of confirmation. I exchanged the sign of peace with gathered friends and, after long months of preparation, I received the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Martyrs' Chapel of St. John's Church on the Creighton University campus was not where I had expected to be on that day. Three years before, I had written In the Ruins of the Church, which was a kind of manifesto against such a move from Canterbury to Rome. That book diagnosed the pathologies of my former denomination, acknowledging that it had become a smugly self-satisfied member of the liberal Protestant club. Yet I argued with equal vigor that Episcopalians should stay put and endure the diminishments of Christianity in our time. I claimed that the disordered state of the Episcopal Church had not led me to despair. I criticized the habits of evasion and strategies of escape that seemed to promise refuge in some other church, and I proposed instead the vocation of dwelling amidst the ruins.
Julie is wife, mother and Catholic convert raised in the Methodist church. During her walk of faith she encountered many different Protestant denominations before finally calling the Catholic Church home.
Looking back in my Christian walk of over 30 years, I can now see my steps into the Catholic Church as a reflection of the poem "Footprints in the Sand". My feet have traveled into many Christian denominations the past 30 years, such as Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian USA, PCA, Assembly of God, Non-denomination and Bible Church. My footprints and Jesus' prints were side by side for several of those years. Then somewhere during those years (for many years) I looked down and I could only see one set of prints, thinking they were mine and I was alone in this journey. My love for Jesus was so real in my life, but why could I not feel at peace in the church? I felt alone in this walk and began to think just maybe something was wrong with me. Now, I see that they were Jesus' footprints carrying me into the Catholic Faith. Fifteen years ago my faith was challenged in the church I attended in which I was a member. I was hurt deeply and this was when my journey into the Catholic faith began, not having a clue this is where my journey would end. Fifteen years ago "Catholic" was not in my vocabulary. My search for a new church began after I was hurt and my feet trotted to many denominations with no peace to be found. A place of worship "one on one", worship with my Lord, was my heart's desire. An anointed sermon and music (praise & worship) was my agenda, and yes I found this in many churches I attended. I also loved to study the Word of God. A good study was encouraging as well. Good sermons, good music and good teaching meant a good church. I traveled into several "Jesus and Me" churches.
Richard was born into a Jewish home in 1950. Twenty-two years later, he discovered Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, and served Him in evangelical Protestant churches for more than thirty-two years. In 2005 he was received into the Catholic Church.
My movement in 1972 from Jewish faith to Christ was so profound an experience, I can tell you when it happened, where I was and what I was doing when I committed myself to the Lord and joined the Protestant church.
But I cannot tell you when I knew I belonged in the Catholic Church. That process was more gradual. I didn't know I was moving toward Rome until I opened my eyes and discovered I had arrived.
JoAnna is married and has four children. This is her story as a lifelong member of the Lutheran church to Catholicism.
I was born to lifelong Lutherans (ELCA) who, of course, baptized all their kids Lutheran. I was baptized on December 28, 1980 -- a date that I realized, soon after my conversion, as the Feast of the Holy Innocents. I sometimes wonder why I wasn't baptized sooner given that I was born six weeks prematurely, but I suppose that in Lutheran circles baptism isn't considered crucial for newborns, even premature ones.
This story of conversion is a story of one who longed for God before she understood what she was longing for, who searched for God and for so long he remained hidden from her, but who continued knocking upon the door and seeking (Matthew 7:7-8) until finally finding God within the fullness of truth. Upon finding that pearl of great price described in Matthew 13:45 she was willing to sell all in order to possess it.
My Pearl of Great Price
My mother likes to say that we were catholic with a small "c" meaning that our religious interests were varied. Although my mother and father were both baptized Christians, my mother converted to Judaism when I was about three years old. My earliest religious memories are of the reverence shown to the Torah as the velvet-covered scrolls were carried through the assembly in the Temple and of the poetic cadence of the Sabbath blessing my mother recited in Hebrew as candles glowed from our dining table. We didn't remain Jewish more than a year or two, but those memories became an anchor in my soul.
Thomas was a former Mormon missionary turned Protestant minister who was received into the Catholic Church in 1996. Thomas lives on his family ranch in southeastern Idaho.
Born a 6th generation Mormon (LDS), I was convinced I was part of the "only true Church on the face of the earth" (Doctrines & Covenants 1:30). As we believed that only Mormons had the gift of the Holy Spirit and that the rest of the world was groping in the darkness for truth, I was equally convinced I was responsible to share our faith at every opportunity. Like many 19-year-old men, I was called by the Mormon prophet to be a missionary for two years in the southern United States, the buckle of the Bible belt, and was excited about winning converts to my faith. In the end, my missionary experience, led me to the conclusion that the Mormon claims could not stand the scrutiny of reason and Divine Revelation.
Stacy is a Catholic convert from the Baptist tradition. A former chemist, Stacy is now a stay at home mom pursuing a MA in Theology at Holy Apostle's College and Seminary.
I am Catholic, simply, because I am alive. I began conversion in 2004 and entered into Communion with the Catholic Church in 2006. That I know of, I have a full decade of children to remember when I pray the Rosary, seven whom I am raising and three whom I never held in my arms. My life these 42 years has been full of self-induced pain. Today I know deep joy and peace because I am accepting the abundances of Truth and Love. I'm telling my story because as shameful as it is, it is real and needs to be told so others will know the dangers of life without a moral compass.
Born and raised Catholic, Russ left the Church as a teenager and became a devout evangelical Christian for many years. His journey of faith has taken many dramatic twists and turns culminating in his joyful reception back to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
About 35 years ago as a young teen, I strayed from my Catholic faith and began to look into the occult and the rock and roll culture for answers and peace in my life. My parents brought me to Church faithfully but didn't allow their faith to help them with their personal problems. They had a troubled marriage and alcohol abuse was a chronic unspoken demon in their lives. As a teenager my Catholicism meant little to me, though I do remember praying the rosary at night to help me sleep when I was troubled by something.
Christie is a convert to Catholicism from the New Age and Neopaganism. She is a homeschooling former schoolteacher and an adoptive, foster, and birth mom of five (and counting).
My conversion to the Catholic Church took about three seconds. I was an arrogant fool sitting in on my very first Mass and watching it like I'd watch a National Geographic nature film. I was analyzing away, "Those pews are so phallic, who are they kidding that this isn't all about a patriarchy?" when I heard something Jewish. A cantor sang the Psalm. It caught my attention and stopped the haughty drift of my thoughts. I began to be interested. What else might they have stolen from the Jews?
Fr. Carter Griffin
Father Carter Griffin is a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC. Raised Presbyterian, he converted to Catholicism while attending Princeton University.
My big mistake was attending a Catholic Mass. It began innocently enough, visiting a Catholic friend who attended a southern university, a young woman that I wanted to impress by my large-minded desire to go to church with her. But my life has never been the same since that April Sunday of 1992. The next day, returning to New Jersey where I attended college, I had eight hours to ponder the experience of that Mass. It had made an indelible impression, and upon returning to the dormitory I asked a Catholic friend of mine to take me to his parish priest. I had some questions that needed answering.
Paul Williams is a Catholic convert from Buddhism, lay Dominican, and professor at the University of Bristol. He is married and has three grown children.
On converting from Buddhism to Catholicism – One convert's story
©Paul Williams, OP
Professor of Indian and Tibetan Philosophy
University of Bristol, UK
I am a Catholic, a convert. Indeed I am now a lay member of the Dominican Order. But I was a Buddhist for over twenty years, and what I want to concentrate on here is Buddhism and rebirth. In talking about Buddhism and rebirth, I shall really be telling you a little about my own conversion story, a conversion story that is of course one of change, wonderful welcome change, and I shall argue it was a change from very real hope-lessness to hope.
Almost Not Catholic
Here's the skinny:
● Born into a reverent Pentecostal family
● Former Pentecostal preacher and high school Bible teacher
● Trained in Reformed theology at Oral Roberts University (03')
● Entered into full communion with the Catholic Church November 23, 2008
Now let's dive right into the story from where it gets interesting
On February 5, 2006 my daughter was born. I'll never forget the overwhelming joy and love of that moment. I will also never forget the fear of the Lord that overcame me. It had been fine up until this point to linger in my own religious "ignorance"--I say ignorance because I knew there were serious tensions in my faith but I had no internal drive to resolve them--going about practicing Christianity in the tradition that I had inherited. However, it was quite another thing all together to pass that faith off to this innocent life. As I held my helpless daughter in my arms, I remember knowing that I had run out of time. The time was now to investigate what was the true faith, the true Church, and where in fact would my children be safe from the rising tide of relativism, secularism, and evil.
Richard Sherlock is a professor of philosophy trained at Harvard. He has 2 wonderful adult children and many wonderful friends who are with him and supportive of him in this journey.
Converting to Catholicism: My Journey
Utah State University
One should never leave the religion in which one was born or raised for anything but the most serious of reasons. Warm feelings, family, friends, a social ethos, should never be the reason for joining or leaving a religion. The fact that you do not like the priest, pastor or parishioners should never be a reason for staying or leaving. Anyone who knows me well knows that I have never been a person to "go with the flow" or seek popularity. I was a conscientious objector in the Vietnam War and I have a 1-0 draft card to prove it. I have been an absolute opponent of abortion, euthanasia, and capital punishment my whole adult life. When I was a professor of moral theology at Fordham University in the mid-1980's I happily defended the view that artificial birth control is morally wrong. This was at a time when many, if not most, actually Catholic moral theologians wouldn't do so, or wouldn't do so strongly. I have not left religion or Christianity. But I have left Mormonism. I have become a deeper, more intellectual, more spiritual and truer Christian than I have ever been, literally. I am converting to the Roman Catholic Church. All true roads do lead to Rome.
After being raised Catholic, Richard Evans left the Catholic Church from ages 15-49, becoming an Evangelical minister and eventually a gay activist. This is the story of his departure and return to the fullness of the Catholic faith.
After Coming Out, I Came Home
I CANNOT RECALL A TIME WHEN I WAS NOT AWARE OF GOD IN MY LIFE. While other little boys were planning to be firemen or police, I often said, even at age seven or eight, "I want to be the Pope!" I jumped at the chance to become an altar boy, having already had much practice as the family "priest" when we played Mass—complete, at times, with flattened "hosts" made of white bread and cut out with bottle caps. The idea of actually serving next to the priest at the real Mass was incredible to me, and I did so with joy for the next four years.
Lori and her husband are raising two God-fearin' bible totin' boys in the great state of Texas. She is a musician, catholic blogger, catholic website contributor, small business owner, youth and faith formation volunteer in her parish community and generally Wonder Woman in nature. Fourteen years ago, the Eucharist found this Southern Baptist girl in the pew of an old New Orleans Catholic Church and captured her heart.
I haven’t always been Catholic. I haven’t always walked on the road less traveled. I don’t always live according to His will. But I am trying. And I am so thankful to be on this journey. With each new day, I hope to step a little closer to His heart, and surrender a little more of mine to Him.
Tom Leopold is a comedy writer who lives in New York City with his lovely wife Barbara and their two daughters.
My name is Tom Leopold and I’m a comedy writer (Seinfeld, Cheers, Will and Grace...). I am a Jewish comedy writer, although I always felt saying that was kind of redundant. So much of my humor — practically all of it I suppose— comes from who my people are, what they’ve been through and how they were able to turn it all on its head and find the funny side, even and especially if there was none to find.
I know it sounds odd, but I always liked Jesus. I was never “deep” enough to wrestle with the concept of his being the son of God. For me he had this James Dean-Bob Dylan-daring rebel-hero “thing” about him. Once in a while, I did wonder, had I been nearby when Jesus walked among us, would I have had seen him for who he said he was? And, if so, would I have had the courage to say “Hey, everybody says we’re waiting on the Messiah. Well, the ‘wait’ is over!” Fast forward two thousand years later and I’d follow Jesus anywhere if he’d have me.
Pam Forrester writes from Fallbrook, California, where she lives with her husband, Mike, of thirty five years. They have seven children. The youngest was six when her mother entered the Catholic Church.
HOW CAN I KEEP MY HEART FROM SINGING
When I was eight I asked my mom to take me to the little church at the end of our street. She began to drop me off every week for Sunday School. One Sunday, my teacher presented the Gospel and encouraged us to accept Jesus Christ as our savior. “But,” she told us, “you must be willing to do anything for God, like be a missionary.” Well, I really wanted to be saved but I did not want to be a missionary! I had to think this over. I went home and thought about it for a while, my little 8 year-old soul struggling against selfish desire. Some weeks later, I convinced myself that I would be willing to be a missionary for Jesus and I asked Him to come into my heart.
Devin Rose is a software engineer and former Atheist. This is his story from Atheist to Baptist to Catholic.
I believe and profess all that the Holy Catholic Church teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God.
But it was not always so. I grew up secularly. My mother was brought up in a particularly legalistic branch of the churches of Christ denomination, and my father, in the Episcopal Church. But the only church I remember going to as a child was a Unitarian Universalist one, and we went there for just a short time. The sole Unitarian sermon I recall having to sit through included a joke about (then Vice President) Dan Quayle that got big laughs from the congregation. I was taught at home and at school that humans evolved without purpose from primordial ooze, so unsurprisingly, when I became old enough to reason about such things, I proudly declared that I did not believe in God.
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