Any Roman Catholic "converts" to Eastern Catholicism?

Hey Catholics,

Just curious as to what made you switch rites or what peaked your interest to even consider. Also I wanted to know if Eastern Catholics were welcoming or not of these new Roman wanderers? :stuck_out_tongue: Thanks

I was raised in a solid Roman Catholic home. I pretty much had the Catechism memorized by the time I was a teenager, I served daily Mass and weekly Adoration/Benediction as well as the occasional wedding and funeral.

When I was living in Ann Arbor, MI., and working at a Catholic bookstore, there was a Ruthenian priest that asked me every week when I was going to come in and visit his parish. I finally caved one week. From the moment I walked in the door I felt completely at home, to the point that the deacon’s wife thought I was raised Byzantine and was shocked to find out I wasn’t.

Since then my wife and I have attended an Eastern parish almost exclusively (save for Sundays when we just couldn’t make it to our parish). My daughter was baptized in the Melkite tradition, and our son (due any day now) will be as well. We plan on making the official “change of canonical status,” but just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

I love the Eastern/Byzantine tradition simply because I’ve always felt at home in it in a way that I never experienced as a Roman Catholic (nothing against Roman Catholicism of course). I felt that my “discovery” of the Eastern/Byzantine Churches was the climax of an ongoing journey.

Roman Catholics are almost always made welcome in Eastern Catholic parishes. They are encouraged to come back as often as they like. Often times Roman Catholics find homes in Eastern Catholic parishes. The only thing that would make a Roman Catholic unwelcome in an Eastern Catholic parish is if said Roman Catholic lacked respect for the Eastern Catholic traditions and patrimony.

Great personal story, thanks for sharing. I am always interested in the things which resonate with people in terms of spirituality. We had a lady in our RCIA team who was raised Byzantine but did a canonical switch to the Roman Rite. According to her, she was largely drawn in through devotions to western Saints and their association spirituality. Its one of the many wonderful things about the Church, there is an approach out there that will speak to everyone and you can still stay within the Church.

Thanks again.


I am not Roman Catholic. However, I am Lutheran, so I’m close enough :wink:

I find that I am personally drawn to Eastern spirituality and praxis. The first time I attended a Divine Liturgy was actually on the 4th of July, at an Antiochian Orthodox parish. I was extremely nervous. The moment I walked in, I physically felt as though I had entered into another realm. I was so full of emotions, it was unbelievable. Afterwards when introducing myself to Father and the congregation, they were shocked to find that I was Lutheran. They said that I seemed as though I was Orthodox. I really did feel that, in a way, that statement was true- I did stumble a bit with the hymns, but overall I fell into the flow of things quickly. The same thing happened when I visited an Byzantine Catholic parish, and an OCA parish. The OCA parish choir even wanted me to join them :smiley:

If I ever were to convert to Catholicism, I feel as though I would make my home in the East. Although, maybe I should give the West a chance. I dunno- despite the fact the Lutheran liturgy and doctrinal thought are extremely close to the Latin Rite, I feel much more at home in the East. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll end up wherever God decides is best for me. :slight_smile:

DuBois, PA has the (formerly) Irish parish’ to which we belong, and the (formerly) lithuanian parish a block apart; you could toss a rock from one to the other. About three blocks away is the (formerly) polish church.

During one of those weekends of separate Masses cow W and I over sick kids,iventured over to the polish parishbuthad the time wrong. So I checked around the corner at th Byzantine Catholic parish, and the DL was about to start. I’d been curious a while, and knew some members from the KofC, and went in.

And was blown away. The reverence was a boggy,and also the way that it progressed seamlessly as a dialog between priest and people, and pretty much stated the faith throughout it.

I started going there whenever I was by myself, and then dragged wife & kids. W didn’t want to change, having learned the Mass as an adult convert shortly before she met me.–“I don’t want to learn another Mass.”. My oldest didn’t like it, not understanding it.

So it remained just me when on my own.

A few months later, my oldest had a class field trip to the byzantine church in the next town, at which the priest offered the Divine Liturgy, stopping to explain each portion. She then ttold me she’d happily join me when i went there.

We moved back home (Las Vegas), and returned to our house and Our old parish up the street (literally, and less than halls a mile). Oldest became an altar server and then a reader,and began Confirmation classes.

We ended up split among mulitple Massess again–Confirmation class had to go to one somethiing else needed another, and I was increasngly disturbeed by not being able to efffectively participate with the constant jarring interruptions of the performing musicians.

I took a trip the the local byzantine church, sometimes withmy oldest. One week, i took the youngest, the twins, who made a friend and wanted to return.

Then I ended up with the three of them, and my second was coming too, so W joined us, and was impressed by the priest.

So shortly, we were all there, and have stayed.

I was curious about Eastern Rites. I came for a visit and decided to stay. The people in the parish were warm and welcoming.

I’ve heard of parishes which are not welcoming of strangers, especially one who is not of the same ethnicity as theirs. The parishes I know are very warm and welcoming. I go to the Ukrainian Church and being Filipino, I’m obviously not anyone remotely they would consider as Ukrainian. Doesn’t matter. The most important thing is don’t come as a “conquistador”. If you want to be part of their Church, you shouldn’t force their culture away from their faith. I was told that this is why some are wary of “foreigners”. Because these “foreigners” grow to love the Byzantine way of worship but want things in their own terms (less of their culture, less of their language). As my bishop put it, you’re welcome to join the banquet. Feel free to add what you have to what’s on the table, but do not ask that anything that’s on the table to be taken away.


I am a cradle RC, in recent years drawn toward the EF/TLM. I discovered a Melkite parish in close proximity and schedule which allowed me to attend both my regular RC EF Mass, then Melkite Orthros and Divine Liturgy. I have attended 5-6 times over the last 1 year and this experience has energized my interest in Eastern Christianity. I even had an opportunity to meet Bishop Nicholas Samra on one of those occasions.

Aside from the liturgy itself that contains a few Arabic prayers, the parish community has a bit of an ethnic “feel”. Can you speak to this component of what appears to be integral to Melkite parish life?


Hello Mick(321)

Melkite parishes often do have a bit of an ethnic feel, primarily because those who founded the parishes are/were immigrants from the Middle East, or descendants of such immigrants. The Melkite/Antiochian Church originated in the Middle East, after all, much like the Latin Church originating in Rome. If you have found a parish that offers Liturgy primarily in English, but “supplemented” with Arabic, then you’ve found a treasure. Occasionally you’ll run into a parish that will do the entire Liturgy in Arabic (or Ukrainian, Russian, Romanian, whatever ethnicity). Our current Bishop (Samra) has bemoaned this fact and stated explicitly that our parishes are not meant to be constructed as a ghetto for preserving our Arab heritage. Rather, he says, our parishes ought to be concerned primarily with evangelizing the world and culture in which we find ourselves.

I’m very blessed that while there is certainly an Arab majority in my parish, there are also a large number of non-Arabs, including our pastor (who is Italian). The majority of our deacons are also non-Arabs, and both of our ordained cantors are non-Arab. However, we do make strides to preserve our Arab identity, including hosting an Arab food festival annually. We non-Arabs have embraced the Arab culture in our parish as we’ve encountered it. We love it, and encourage it to the best of our ability, keeping in mind those who have founded our parish and “gone before us marked with the sign of faith.” I think you will find that the Arab Melkites are generally very welcoming to non-Arabs. Basically, the more you show up at the parish and let yourself be seen, the more people will make the effort to make you feel welcome. :thumbsup:

You wouldn’t happen to live in the Washington D.C. area, would you?

My husband was in the Latin church. When he met me he wanted to come to my parish and he loves the Divine Liturgy now.

My reasons for migrating to the Byzantine rite are simple…

[list=1]*]the Roman symbolism and theology do not make it easy for me to accept the grace available in the liturgies and praxis
*]The Byzantine symbolism does[/list]

The local Ruthenian parish is a pretty wide mix…
Disgruntled trads (who often want to latinize the parish)
Former Romans
Ukrainian Catholics
Ukrainian Orthodox
Former Greek Orthodox
Former Protestants
A few ethnic Rusyns…

So tolerance was never an issue. Then again, the parish’s original purpose was to convert the Russian Orthodox… at which purpose it failed … so it’s never been a strongly ethnic parish.

I suppose I’m technically a Roman Catholic “convert”, but my story is a bit different. I was Baptized as a Latin Catholic as a child but was not raised with the Faith. I went to Catholic school (which is why I got Baptized; I was 4 when I was finally Baptized) and so I went through First Communion and Confession, but I was very much a non-believer even in my youth. I was just caught up in the sweep with the other Catholic kids, and though I would argue with the religion teachers and dismiss the idea of God I was put through process with the others.

When I left Catholic school in the sixth grade religion simply vanished from my life completely. The only real exposure I had to any religion was in school, and that was gone, and my family was practically atheist. Fast forward several decades and I came to believe in God and began to explore different religions, eventually settling on Catholicism. At the time I was working as an EMT over night, and when I got off work on Sunday morning the only Liturgy available was the local Melkite (actually a Maronite mission at the time, but it served both communities) mission that started after all the Roman Masses were finished. I started practicing as a Melkite and embraced the tradition, but because I was canonically Latin I had to go to a Latin parish for Confirmation. After that I’ve pretty much been full-time in the Melkite Church, though I still sometimes go to the local Dominican parish where I was Confirmed because it is simply an amazing community (Western Province Dominicans are awesome; they almost had me, but I met my wife :p).

Now that I’ve married a Melkite I’m going through the official process of Canonical transfer, and that will be that. As you can see I didn’t really “leave” the Roman tradition so much as never had a home there in the first place. :shrug:

Peace and God bless!

I’m in Southern California. There are many EC options for those interested. The Melkite parish I mentioned seems to be composed primarily of cradle Melkites, and a fewer number of converts from local RC and Protestant communities. The whole Mid Eastern food festival thing occurs every Sunday after liturgy and lasts into the afternoon. Due to my interest in the liturgy, much of my interaction has been with the priests, deacons and cantors who do chant the orthros office. Overall a very welcoming community and one that I recommend other local RC’s visit for a feel of EC. They have a nice bookstore too. I picked up the Melkite Horologion and Publicans Prayer Book [both Sophia Press titles].

I understand that the Antiochian Orthodox Church is thought of as the Orthodox mirror church to the Melkite-Greek Catholic Church in that they share common [or similar] cultural and liturgical heritage. Is that an accurate and/or proper way to view the relationship between of these Eastern Christian communities?


It’s actually more than that. The Antiochians and Melkites split several centuries over the issue of communion with Rome. One side wanted to reestablish communion with Rome, the other side didn’t. Those who remained in the Eastern Orthodox communion are the modern Antiochian Greek Orthodox Church, while those who joined with Rome are the modern Melkite Greek Catholic Church. The Melkites are rather fascinating as an Eastern Catholic Church, as they seem to have quite an independent spirit (look at the Melkites at Vatican I or Vatican II for example, and also the Zoghby initiative).

I understand that the Antiochian Orthodox Church is thought of as the Orthodox mirror church to the Melkite-Greek Catholic Church in that they share common [or similar] cultural and liturgical heritage. Is that an accurate and/or proper way to view the relationship between of these Eastern Christian communities?

As Cavaradossi pointed out we’re actually very close. Rather than say “similar” I’d say we have an identical cultural and liturgical heritage. The only issue that split the Antiochian and Melkite Churches is the role of the Papacy, and the Antiochian Church prior to the Melkite/Antiochian Divide was always warmer to Rome than the other Eastern Orthodox Churches. We have a unique heritage as a Catholic Church because our Church was not created by a “splinter group” of bishops, priests, and laity, but was created by a decision of the Patriarch and most of his Synod recognizing Rome. This has helped our Church maintain a more independent, though not schismatic, mindset as Cavaradossi mentioned. It’s hard for the Melkites to view themselves as “subservient” when our existence within the Catholic Communion really owes nothing to Rome.

Also worth noting is that calling the Catholic group Melkite and the Orthodox group Antiochian is really just a sloppy way to make the distinction clear, as both groups have claim to both names. In the “old country” they would be called Roum Orthodox and Roum Catholic, with Roum meaning Roman (as in the Eastern Roman Empire). We can’t use Roman Catholic and Roman Orthodox in the U.S. because of the confusion it would cause, so Melkite and Antiochian are used despite implying a division of heritage that doesn’t reflect reality.

The Melkites and Antiochians also share very close bonds, and there is frequently overlap in attendence and religious practice between the two groups, much to the chagrin of our fellow Catholics and Orthodox. :stuck_out_tongue:

Peace and God bless!

Lol, that reminds me of something my dad’s priest (who is an Antiochian from Lebanon says) sometimes says. “Melkite? Yes, we are Melkties, along with five or six other churches in the Middle East.”

Just a note on Ghosty’s post. While the Melkites and the Antiochians certainly share very close relations in the Middle East, that doesn’t seem to be quite the case in the U.S. One can only speculate as to why this is. I have my own theories, but will put off sharing them until they are more extensively confirmed. :stuck_out_tongue:

I have my own position on this, too, but will keep it to myself in perpetuity (unless, perhaps – and depending on my mood at the time – someone else brings it up in the forum). :wink:

In any case, it seems to me that the proximity of relations in the US depends, to quite an extent, on the particular place and the particular personalities involved.

I’d be willing to bet that the same is probably true of the Syriacs and their relationship with the Antiochians and Melkites. Their relationships here in America will obviously differ from their relationships back in the Middle East, where many will have family who are in a different church, and intermarriages are not uncommon.

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