At the age of 18, Scott Woltze robbed three banks and was sent to prison. After his release he pursued a life as a secular academic. Then at the age of 33, he had an experience of the mercy and love of God, and reverted back to the Catholic faith.
So let’s start with the obvious question: How does an eighteen year-old come to the shocking decision to rob banks? At that time I thought I was at an impasse: I dropped out of high school after being suspended seven times my senior year, and I’d just quit my job because I couldn’t manage my anxiety amongst the ups and downs. I was still reeling from a rough childhood, and I had gradually become alienated in some deep sense from life itself, from existence, from the ultimate meaning of things. Of course now I know that all of these things add up to the fact that I was alienated from God—who I didn’t even believe in at the time. Even so, I couldn’t bear this alienation, and so I held the strange view that the radical act of robbing banks would help me break through the gray facade of life and scratch the bottom of existence. I thought that robbing banks was so out of the ordinary, such a break from the normal that it would cause a kind of metaphysical rupture and I would finally see life for what it is. I also thought that robbing banks would surely land me in prison—since I knew that nine out of ten bank robbers get caught—and that prison would give me a chance to rebuild myself. I know it sounds crazy—a wild paradox—but I was making an escape into prison as a last attempt to salvage myself. And believe it or not it actually worked and exceeded all of my desperate hopes.
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.
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."