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.
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?
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.
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.