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?
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."
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.
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.