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My Journey Home

to the Catholic Church


My Conversion Story

It begins with my mom, who had such a dysfunctional childhood that she was basically raised in a Catholic boarding school from the time she was about eight years old until she went to high school. She was baptized and confirmed there, and the nuns told her that when she finished high school, they would pay her college tuition. She went to high school at Chilocco, a boarding school for American Indians (her father was full-blood Cherokee, and her mother was probably a quarter Cherokee). When she graduated, she met and married my sweet, wonderful dad, just home from WWII, and that ended any plans she had for college.

My father wasn't Catholic, and in fact wanted nothing to do with organized religion. My mom had stopped going to church, but when I was about 8 years old, a kind Irish priest came to the house. He wanted to talk to mom about coming back to the Church and about having her marriage blessed. He was very startled when she opened the door since he was expecting an Irish woman because of our last name. My Irish father stubbornly refused to talk with him, and my mother didn't go back to the Church. However, the priest was able to convince her to send my sister and me to catechism class.

We only attended the class for one school year, but it made a deep impression on me. I still have (and treasure) the little rosary that the nuns gave me.  My Baptist sister still has hers, too, and loves it although she doesn't use it that I know of. After that year, my mom said that we could decide what religion we wanted to be when we grew up. We never went back to classes or attended Mass. I went to a few protestant churches with friends while I was growing up, but none ever seemed right to me.

I met my husband when I was in college. We married in his childhood church, Zion Methodist in Wichita, KS, in 1969. He had not attended church for years, and it wasn't until we had our first child that we felt the need to find a church. We went to several different churches. He wanted a "Bible based church," I wanted to be Catholic. We ended up not joining any church.

In the 1980s we were living in Missouri, where my husband was stationed at the Military Records Center in St. Louis. By now we had three children. I was extremely happy—in love with my wonderful husband and crazy about  my beautiful, smart kids. It seemed that we had it all.

One day I was in my back yard, watching the kids and talking with a neighbor. She asked me where we went to church. I told her that we didn't, and launched into my explanation of how I believed in God, but didn't feel it was necessary to go to church. I told her how happy we were, that things were perfect as they were. I told her that I thanked God whenever I looked out my kitchen window and saw my healthy children at play. Becky just smiled sweetly and said, "That's why you should go to church. To show Him how thankful you are for all that He has given you." Such a simple little statement, but it changed my life. It just made sense.

She invited our family to go with her family to their church the next Sunday. And I said yes. Her church was Immanuel Lutheran Church, a LCMS church in St. Charles, MO. When we walked in, there was a big crucifix, statues of St. Peter and St. Paul, lovely stained glass windows, a pipe organ in the choir loft. During the service, we followed the liturgy in the Lutheran Worship book. The service was reverent and beautiful. I felt at home there. We continued to go there for several weeks, and then my husband and I went to the adult information classes. My husband was happy because Immanuel was "Bible based" and I was happy because it seemed so Catholic. We thought that it was a perfect compromise.

We loved Immanuel and became involved in the life of the church. I was baptized, along with our three children, in December, 1982, and I was confirmed. Ron had already been baptized in the Methodist church. We enrolled our kids in Immanuel's school. I helped with vacation Bible school, we attended the adult Bible study, my husband was on the evangelism team, I was active in Lutherans for Life. We made lots of friends.

Becky became my dearest friend and we went to a meeting of the St. Charles Christian Women's Club (an ecumenical organization, but I don't remember any Catholic ladies in it). Both of us enjoyed it, and continued to attend the monthly meetings, eventually having Stonecroft Ministry Bible Studies weekly in our homes. After a couple of years I became the Book Chairman, and then was the President of St. Charles CWC for a year. I fell in love with Jesus and couldn't get enough of Bible study.

Then my husband was transferred to Hawaii. We left Missouri, where we had lived for five years. It was hard to leave our church, our friends, the kid's schools (my oldest was going to Lutheran high school by then). We found a LCMS church in Hawaii, and continued to be active in church. After a few years there we went to Japan. We didn't live right on post, but in a military community a few miles from the main post. We had a small ecumenical chapel in our community, and a Lutheran service once a month.

While we were in Japan, my oldest son met the girl he would eventually marry. We came back to the states in 1991. She followed and attended college in a town not far from us. They were married in 1995. She is Catholic.

My husband's new post was at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio. He retired from active duty a few years ago, and we settled here. He still works for the Army in civil service. We found a Lutheran church when we arrived in Texas, but something felt wrong, so we switched to another one. We stayed at that one for a couple of years, but were never happy there either. I told my husband that I didn't feel like we were worshipping God, but attending a performance. We were feeling lost and far from God.

Meanwhile, my oldest son and his little family settled in a town near Houston. My daughter-in-law, a cradle Catholic, had no interest whatsoever in religion. I had been praying for years that my son would return to God. He had stopped going to church with us years before, in Hawaii, when he was in high school.

Then my daughter-in-law's sister and her family moved close to my son and his family. My son and his sister-in-law began to have discussions about religion. (He loves debate). He started having to read more and more in order to counter her arguments about the Catholic faith. Well, I'm sure you all know what happens when you start studying the Catholic faith.

He came home for Christmas in 1999 and told us that he was converting to Catholicism. Oh my God, you do have a way of giving us surprising answers to our prayers. Although he was afraid that we would be upset with his decision, I was thankful that he was returning to God. He went through RCIA (so did his brother-in-law) in the fall and spring of 2000-2001, and was confirmed at the Easter vigil. My mom and I were there, with tears running down our faces. I don't know if I was crying from happiness or because I couldn't receive communion with him. Both, I think.

During his time of studying, our son was telling me and my husband what he was learning, giving us books to read, emailing articles and links to web sites. It didn't take much to convince me that I needed to go to RCIA. In September, 2001, I called the closest Catholic church. The lady I spoke to was the priest's administrative assistant, the director of religious education and the leader of the RCIA class. She was warm and friendly, and told me that RCIA class started the next evening! When my husband came home I told him that I was going, and that if he wanted to come with me that would be wonderful, but if he didn't want to come, I would understand. He wanted to come.  And so we went, telling the leaders that we were just there to learn more about our son's faith. They assured us that we didn't have to make a commitment to convert. I think I already knew in my heart that I would convert. I didn't really think that Ron would.

Both of us enjoyed RCIA class. It answered a lot of basic questions, especially for my husband, but also for me. In January, 2002, Ron and I went out to dinner. As we were sitting at the table waiting for our food, he told me that during the Rite of Welcoming, months before at church, he had "felt something" while the congregation prayed for us as we stood up front before them. He is not one to say that he "feels things" spiritually, so I said, "What do you mean—what did you feel?" He hesitated, then said, "I think it was the Holy Spirit." It took my breath away to hear that! Then he said that he had decided to convert. He said that the only thing that bothered him was telling our daughter, who is still Lutheran. But I talked to her, and it didn't bother her at all. (In fact, I think she will be the next convert in our family). I asked my husband why he had waited so long to tell me about what he had felt, and he said that he wanted to think about it before he mentioned it.

Also in January, 2002, my mom called me to tell me that she had decided to go through RCIA, and that when she told my youngest sister that she was going, my sister said that she wanted to go, too! It turned out that Mom didn't have to go through the entire program, since she was already Catholic. She just needed to go to confession and she could receive communion for the first time in over fifty years! What a joy that must have been for her! She did attend some of the RCIA classes with my sister, though, since there have been so many changes. My sister was confirmed at the 2003 Easter vigil at their church in Kansas. My husband and I were there.  God is so good!

The Holy Spirit has been moving in our family. My daughter married a Cajun boy in 2000, and he is a cradle Catholic who needs to come back to the church. I know that he will return and she will convert, soon I hope. My youngest son has said that he will come to Mass with us "some day." Like his older brother did, he has also stopped going to church. Whenever I ask, he says, "not this time," and I don't push. I just say okay, and go on. But I know what he believes, and I know that God will answer my prayers that all of my children will be Catholic some day.

I've always loved God, and I've always known that I am His child. I don't know why it took so long for me to find my way. I believe that He was with me every step of the way, guiding and protecting me all these years. Maybe if, like Jimmy Stewart's character in A Wonderful Life, we could look at life as it might have been, we would understand why our journey has so many twists and turns and detours. Maybe somewhere along the way we touched someone's life in a certain way for the better.

I am so grateful that I finally ended up in the Catholic Church, where somewhere deep in my heart I've always known I belong. I've never felt so comfortable and at home in any church, and it doesn't matter if it is my parish church, my son's church, my mom's church, or any other Catholic church in the world, I still feel at home there. My faith is stronger and deeper than it has ever been. I pray more and on a much deeper level than I ever have. My understanding of the Bible is clearer and more meaningful. I love going to Mass. To receive the Eucharist is so awesome that I still feel like I'm going to cry, even after more than two years. And the feeling I have after going to confession is indescribable to anyone who hasn't experienced it. I spend hours reading Catholic sites on the internet and books about Catholicism. I can't seem to learn enough about the Church. I know deep inside of me that this is where God wants me to be, where He always intended for me to be, and I will never, ever leave the Catholic Church.  I am home.  Thanks be to God!

Update 2006: Well, I was wrong about my daughter being the next Catholic convert in our family. My youngest son and his wife are going through RCIA now and will be confirmed at the Easter Vigil, 2006. God is so good!

A couple of years ago I picked up a green scapular from a table in the narthex of our church. I had no idea what it was all about, but there was a little explantion page with it. It said: The green scapular is a single piece of green felt and braid with a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary on one side, and on the other, a heart ablaze, pierced with a sword and dripping blood, surmounted by a cross and encircled by the words "Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death."

The green scapular is truly a remarkable piece of cloth.

The green scapular was given to the world by Our Lady on September 8, 1840. On that day our Blessed Mother appeared to the French nun, Sister Justine Bisqueyburu, a religious of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, and promised that this new scapular would contribute to the conversion of souls, particularly those who have no faith, and would procure for them a happy death. The wearer receives many graces to assist him in finding and/or keeping the faith.

The evil one has no power over whoever makes it, wears it or spreads devotion to it. All who wear the green scapular confirm to the evil one, they are agents of the Mother of God and the evil one knows he is powerless to hurt them. God wills the green scapular to become a badge...a most sure barrier to the evil one's assault upon the soul. In this day it is the most powerful scapular in the world.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary has made this promise: to come to the assistance of any person who uses it in My Love, to cure any bodily or mental illness.

I shall bless all hearts on earth who spread devotion to my green scapular. It is My Immaculate Heart.

No investiture is necessary. The only requirement is that the Green Scapular be blessed by a priest and worn or carried by the person wishing to benefit by it. If however, a person in need of grace is obstinate, the Green Scapular may be placed secretly inside his clothing, home or possessions, and the giver should say the prayer instead.

The only prayer necessary, which may be said many times daily, but should be said at least once a day is:

"Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death."

Radio Rosary, PO Box 803, Cheshire, CT 06410

I took the green scapular home and put it under my son's mattress. I had been praying for my son and asking Mary's intercession for quite some time. He had drifted from his faith and was not going to any church. He drove too fast, drank too much, stayed out too late and I was afraid for him. I felt sneaky about putting the scapular in his room without telling him, so I told him about it and asked if that was okay with him. He just smiled his sweet smile and said, "Sure." He had no idea what he had just assented to! :-)

Fast forward a few years to the present. My son is married, has a baby son and is converting! Thank you Lord, and thank you Sweet Mary for your intercession.

I think I need to get another Green Scapular and give it to my daughter!

Dear Lord, give me the truths which are veiled by the doctrines and articles of faith, which are masked by the pious words of sermons and books.  Let my eyes penetrate the veil, and tear off the mask, that I can see your truth face to face.
St. John of the Cross