My husband and I converted to Catholicism in 2004. (We came from the Evangelical Protestant background.)
Our experience has been that converts to Catholicism are adulated. Everyone is convinced that we know so much, especially about the Bible, and they are convinced that we must have some kind of special spirituality because we heard and heeded the Holy Spirit’s leading.
Often, converts seem to be the ones recruited to teach and lead Bible studies and other classes.
I think Catholics need to be very careful not to over-admire converts or be too quick to recruit them into teaching ministries. Yes, there are some converts (e.g., Scott Hahn) who come into the Church with an extensive background in theology, history, Scripture, teaching experience, etc., and they should certainly be encouraged to use their background and gifts in teaching ministries.
But many of us converted to Catholicism because we became more and more disillusioned with Protestantism. In our case, our family was thrown out of our Protestant church, and we were hurting terribly. I told God that I would not attend any more churches until I was literally “wooed” into the church by loving people. (And God answered that plea!)
That negativity against the Protestant church can come across and be harmful, as cradle Catholics can pick up on it and develop negative attitudes, too. That could hurt their evangelism work among their Protestant friends and relatives.
Also, it is really easy for converts to become pride-filled, as cradle Catholics and even the priests admire them and pet them and tell them how enthusiastic and knowledgeable they are. Pride goes before a fall. And pride is a horrible attitude to have when witnessing to others. There is no greater turn-off then someone who is proud, not humble, about their Church, and who looks down on all the “inferior fellowships.”
When we were Protestants, we often saw new converts to Christianity admired and praised by the church members, and for a while, the convert would maintain a strong testimony and be part of the church leadership. But new converts are easy targets for Satan, because they don’t have strong “roots” and years of experience to fight off his attacks. We have seen so many converts fall into their old sinful habits and lifestyle, and then fall away from the Church and Christ entirely.
Finally, even though converts often come across as extremely knowledgeable, we really don’t know much about being Catholic and about Catholic teachings from personal experience, like the cradle Catholics do. We have “book knowledge” because we have read every book by modern Catholic writers/apologists, and we have spent hours here on CAF reading! But book knowledge is not real life.
Converts start out as “Catholic babies.” We don’t know much, and we need a lot of nurturing and help to “grow up” and become mature Catholic Christians. I encourage Catholic parishes to “proceed with caution” when it comes to elevating converts too quickly into the parish teaching ministries. Let them grow, learn, and assimilate Catholicism into their daily lives for a good long while before expecting them to take their place among the leaders of the parish.
Hope this is helpful.