Converts, how did you find the Church?

With so many threads focusing on people who are leaving the Church for one reason or another, I became curious as to the other side of the equation. For those who weren’t born into the Church life, how did you come into your Catholic belief?

I wasn’t raised in church. My parents took me to a protestant Sunday school when I was very young. Not very often. My family was was never big on attending church.

I read the Bible a lot (I had received a NIV translation on my 9th birthday and studied it with great interest). I was in my early twenties before I realized that although I KNEW a lot of scripture, I really wasn’t using that knowledge to guide my life. I was drinking with friends most nights, and chasing women. A light bulb finally came on and I stopped doing those things. I also decided to get baptized (not an easy feat, especially when a person doest belong to a church, nor have any intention of joining one.) In any event, I did manage to get baptized in my early twenties.

Years later, when I was twenty seven I was reading my Bible and another light bulb went off, telling me that Christ and the Apostles put a rather heavy importance on having communion with others of the faith. Suddenly I was staring at scriptural proof that church was, in fact, an important part of Christian life.

Wanting to obey the scripture, it seemed I needed to make a change. I needed to find a church to belong to.

Now came the fun part… which one is the RIGHT one?

So I went ‘church shopping’. The Catholic Church wasn’t even on my radar. I tried a lot of other churches in my area.

I sat through sermons that I wanted to get up and walk out on. Half the time I didn’t think the preacher had a clue what he was talking about. I looked at the other parishioners in the pews, nodding like bobble heads, eating up every word.

It really bothered me. Hadn’t these people ever READ the Bible? Was I the only one in the audience that realized the errors that the Pastor was making?
I kept going back to the scriptures, saying “Why aren’t we doing THIS, or since when is THAT okay? Doesn’t the Bible tell us to do THIS? Well why isn’t the church doing it?”

I sat through long explanations that basically boiled down to “Well, society has changed…” or “People dont like that”… “It just isn’t done anymore”… or “Jesus understands. Jesus doesn’t mind. Jesus wants us to be happy, that’s all.” …No consequences for sin. No solid rules to live by. It was like a never-ending sound byte of “Jesus loves you!” and “Once saved, always saved.”

Most of the ‘theology’ was that once you were baptized you could do whatever you want. Sex before marriage? Internet porn? These are harmless vices. Everyone does them. They’re frowned upon, but gee golly, once saved always saved. Jesus paid the price, so now it doesnt matter…

I was floored. After a month or two I felt like I had exhausted all hope of finding a REAL Church. One that actually held to the standards of the scriptures.

I had all but given up hope. My life had gone into a dive. My wife and I were going through a divorce after nine years of marriage. My career was on the rocks. (both of these turned out to be blessings in disguise) One night I was surfing the internet. I came upon an article by a Catholic Apologist.

I won’t lie. I had a lot of pre-conceived notions of Catholics, none of which were true. Idol worship. Pope worship. Saint worship. A faulty understanding of confession. Etc.

So I read this article, and it addresses those very issues. It explained everything and made a lot of good points. More impressive, it actually showed in SCRIPTURE where those things came from.

That was the beginning of my journey toward the Church. I was fascinated. I dove into research, and the more I learned about the Catholic Church, the more in love I fell. I devoured as much material as I could about the history of the Church and the Saints. In particular I read about Mother Teresa. All of her good works. All the good she did for the poorest of the poor. Her devotion to God. I read about St. Pio, St. Francis, any saint I could find a webpage about. It was amazing, like an un-ending flow of information.

I decided to attend Catholic church the next Sunday. The homily was wonderful. The priest was EXACTLY in tune with scripture. He actually KNEW what he was talking about! (You have no idea how much joy this brought me). Afterward I was invited to attend Bible Study. Again, I loved it. The priest had so much knowledge. It was the first time in years that I felt like I had learned something new and true.

I bought a copy of the Catechism and a few other books. I learned about the Rosary.

It was incredible. Two thousand years of study and dedication to the scriptures! How had I never known these things? It was like opening a door in your house and finding an entire extra house you never knew you had.

After that I was simply on fire.

I spent the next two years simply learning more (and I still am). I picked up a copy of St. Augustine’s “Confessions” and devoured it. It was uncanny how much I had in common with a man who lived so long ago. I practiced my Rosary. I learned the prayers. I simply became infatuated with God and Christ and Mary and the Saints in a way I never had before. I was always interested in them, but now it was a burning passionate desire.

Over the years I re-married (after my first was annulled by the Church). I have truly started to change my life to live according to God’s laws. Next week I start RCIA at the local parish here. I can’t wait. By Easter I will be a full fledged member of the Church! (It only took me 30 years. LOL)

I’d love to hear other people’s stories of how they ‘found’ the Church.

Welcome Home. I loved reading about your journey. I am a cradle Catholic, but I’m
inspired and renewed when I heard someone who loves the Church and is so
enthusiastic.

Thank you :thumbsup:

Praise be to God and welcome Home:)

I too am a convert and am so blessed to be Catholic!
I won’t tell my whole story but a more “condensed” version.
I was raised protestant (mainline) and different from your story went to church almost every Sunday. During college I became more evangelical/charismatic. I married and since my husband was Lutheran that was what I became for most of my life until I became more and more uncomfortable with our church and what was going on in it…teachings I couldn’t accept. So I too started “shopping” not even thinking Catholic… During this time a new Catholic Church was built next to where I worked and I would stop in there in the mornings and pray. I grew to love the unbelievable peace in being there every morning. I told who I knew to be Catholic how peaceful it was coming in her church in the morning for prayer. (I also started reading books on the Catholic Church and came to Catholic Answers and met so many wonderful Catholic Christians) My friend told me to attend Adoration (which was foreign to me) Oh my…I was overwhelmed with His presence and peace!! Wow…did everyone that was Catholic experience this joy and peace?! (I found out later many Catholics don’t take the time to go to Adoration…!!!) I read more and more and 3 years later I came into the Church…first in my family! I’ve never regretted it … I truely found the FULLNESS of my Christian faith - Alleluia!

mlz

That is how I felt, like a missing piece of a puzzle was finally in place, making the whole picture much more clear.

Thanks for your response. I’ve never been to Adoration, but I will certainly make it a point to go after hearing how good it is.

God bless!

Thank you for sharing the story of your journey towards the Catholic Church. :thumbsup:

My story of my Catholic confirmation starts where my Protestant journey led me: into a dead end. I grew up in a conservative evangelical tradition that placed a lot of emphasis on the scriptures and the importance of the Bible. One thing that I appreciate about my upbringing is that we learned the Bible very well, very quickly.

It didn’t take long for me to start putting two and two together: what the Bible said and what the church taught were two different things. On top of that, the church placed a lot of emphasis on its faithfulness to “apostolic” culture, but after reading some history and doing some very basic research, it became obvious to me that the church was living in denial of its own traditions, and imagined their theological innovations to be “original” to the ancient church. I found this to be very confusing and frustrating.

I had been moving further and further away from my church, and towards the end of my undergraduate studies, my wife and I formally broke away from the organization we had been raised in. It was a blessing in disguise. Afterwards, I was fortunate enough to attend an interdenominational collective of seminaries, and I spent a lot of time hunting through the different schools. I took classes with the Lutherans, the Universalists, the Franciscans, the Jesuits, the Dominicans, the Methodists. I was exposed to a lot of theology and a lot of different church cultures.

The Catholic Church held an unexpected appeal. The Church didn’t pretend that it followed ONLY the scriptures; it was honest enough to openly reverence its traditions as well, and at the seminaries I attended I learned that Catholicism was much more sophisticated, much more effective, much more diverse, much more beneficial than I had ever considered possible. But it wasn’t just the best Christian theology on the planet that convinced me of Catholic truth–ultimately, it was the people I encountered. It may sound unlikely, but the happiest seminarians are Catholic seminarians. I experienced Catholic love and fellowship firsthand and realized that I wanted that kind of life, that kind of faith, that could produce that kind of love and kindness.

I was chrismated and confirmed this Easter. My studies at seminary continue. Please pray for me, that I will grow in grace and love, so that my wife–who is not as eager as I am to embark upon the Catholic road–will eventually come to see the same compassion in me that I saw in the Catholic priests, seminarians, nuns, deacons, and laity who opened my eyes to the real spiritual fruits of the Catholic Church.

I too was converted by reading the bible, yes the incomplete KJV my Evangelical family gave me when I was small. At the time the KJV was about the only bible that Protestants used.

But I read the entire bible including the parts that Evangelicals often ignore or try to ‘explain away’. The bible is so clear when read properly. Of course the bible plainly says the Holy Eucharist is the body and blood of Jesus, not just symbols as I had been told.

Holy Baptism truly forgives sin as well. It is right there in the bible. But again my parents told me that baptism is only symbolic, and is only a symbol of ‘gettin’ saved’.

The bible is so clear on a lot of things the Evangelicals ignore because it does not agree with their already established theology. Then they seek out ‘proof texts’ and ignore the rest of the bible’s message.

The bible is clear as well the St. Peter is the Rock the church is based on. But some ignore that too. ‘Explain it away’.

I have even known Evangelicals say the water in “You must be born again by water and the spirit” to mean nothing but amniotic fluid.

This is why I love converts. And this is why I love my Church. When a friend of mine decided he wanted to explore Catholicism I told him to approach it with skepticism, read everything we believe in the Catechism and dig up all the dirt you can. He entered the Church the next Easter Vigil. Our faith truly is an open book, there for any to explore. And if you really do, you will fall in love.

Thank you for your story. What an inspiration!

Steve

I just came across some spiritual writings about how Jesus is actually present in the Eucharist and somehow believed it to be true – and not the “symbol” of the Eucharist that the Protestant churches teach.

I thought I was going to be Orthodox because the Catholic Church seemed to have many things that just sort of “appeared” along the way.

But I could not ignore the saints and the universality of the Church.

If I had to compare, my former faith was like Spam on a paper plate (perhaps sufficient for life) and the Catholic Church was like honey-roasted turkey on an exquisite platter.

To be honest, I do have doubts sometimes — am I making the right choice? does it really matter what church I join? am I just attracted by the promises of the Catholic Church and the outward signs of piety?

But in terms of bearing fruit — the faith and tradition of the Catholic Church led me to desire piety, virtues (though I find them very difficult to practice), and the will/strength/desire to not watch sinful things on the internet and TV.

The things I read were writings of St. Hildegard of Bingen, stories of St. Francis of Assisi, Sayings of the Desert Fathers, and St. Catherine of Siena. There was also a documentary of Catholic nuns working in a facility for lepers in America.

Regardless, we should still pray and hope for unity of Christendom.

I was raised irreligious. I went to a protestant Church during my college years, mostly out of rebellion to my parents and to the irreligious culture around me. At this point my faith was purely intellectual, like a mere philosophy. But on a whim I asked about “catholic books” at the local protestant bookstore, and despite the weird look from the salesperson there, I found “Catholicism and Fundamentalism” by Karl Keating in the back corner of the used section. It demonstrated to me the biblical soundness of the Catholic Church enough for me to want to learn more. Beauty so ancient and so ever new, late have I loved thee.

Most of my family is atheist. I started having horrible anxiety attacks about death and dying, and while counseling helped a little bit, I just sort of felt like I needed a church. So, I drove past one and thought, “maybe I’ll go to that one.”

I was actually scared of becoming a Catholic because the secular world views catholics as fun-hating, sin-shaming people. I had thought about becoming Lutheran or Methodist. I’m glad I found out myself that that is not at all true.

Anyway, I was just baptized this past Easter, so I’m still learning a lot, but I love it. I draw great peace from attending mass.

My story is pretty simple, haha.

This is my favorite topic.

I was born in the ordinal Japanese family in Japan. We were kind of Buddhists. My parents sent me to the protestant preschool for two years. I learned to pray and heard a lot of stories from bible there. The principal held me and told to read bible when I become a middle school age, at the time of graduation from preschool. I went the Sunday school once a month at that preschool, after I graduated for a few years.

When I went to middle school, I bought a bible and read by myself. I remember that I was wondering why this book had same but a little bit different stories four times.

When I learned world history at the middle school and high school, I thought there were many wars between different religions and churches and I did not want to join one of them. But, at my last year of high school, John Paul II and Mother Teresa visited Japan. John Paul II visited Hiroshima, which is one hour from my city by Bullet train. When I saw the news about his visit to Hiroshima on the newspaper, I sent postcards for lottery to get the tickets to attend his talk. I received three. My mother, sister and I could attend his talk. I was very impressed. Mother Teresa visited my city. We went to her talk. I was very impressed again.

After seeing these two saints, I decided to go to their church. I thought that this church might do something wrong, but if this church let these people do God’s job, this is the God’s church. I found a catholic church in the phone book and visited by my bicycle. I studied catechism for one year at the nearest Catholic Church and was baptized at Christmas, when I was 18.

My sister was baptized few years after me, then my mother. My father was baptized few weeks before his death at the hospital. My husband was a fourth generation protestant and converted before our marriage. My brother-in law was baptized before their marriage. My nephew and my daughter were baptized as babies!

We sent our son to Catholic School for kindergarten. :slight_smile:

Born Episcopal because my dad left the church (he came back eventually; I can take some credit). That had the ironic beneficial effect of teaching me pre-Vatican II liturgics after Vatican II. My “Russians in Hagia Sophia” experience of falling in love with the church took place in an Episcopal church, an Anglo-Catholic one that looked like a Catholic one before the council. That and the larger culture, from movies to moving to Italian New Jersey as a teenager, getting to know Catholics. (Half my high school was Irish-Italian kids.) All that made me want to be Catholic, and when it became clear that the Episcopal Church wasn’t, with lurches and false starts I eventually made it into the church. Here to stay since 2011.

How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born again?

;).

Thanks converts for your posts. Made my Sunday even more special.:thumbsup:

PeaceBeWithU
The short version: by the grace of God. :slight_smile:
As a new convert, I am writing my experience down for the first time-will come back to post it when it is done. I love your quote about finding another house! That has been my experience too. May I use your quote? If so, what name would you want me to use? Maybe an initial?

Sure you can use it. Feel free to take credit for it too. LOL. I dont have a copyright on the phrase.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.