From active JW to devout Catholic - How did such a thing happen?? :-)


#1

Hi all,

I’m kind of new to the Catholic Answers Forums, and with the encouragement of Carole Marie, I’m posting my story here. I’m hoping that it might spur some discussion among people who have had similarly powerful conversion experiences as adults. I’ll look forward to chatting with you all and sharing our stories and faith.

God bless,
JP Augustine

Here’s my story:

I was a JW for 20 years or so, from the time I was 8 until the time I was 28. I, too, was a “devout” JW. I became a ministerial servant at the age of 20 and gave a number of public talks in my congregation as well as at several others. Being a JW was my LIFE, as you can certainly relate to.

I left the JWs after my marriage fell apart and I began some psychotherapy to deal with my marriage. The elders were clearly out of their depth and weren’t particularly helpful, so out of desperation I sought some outside help. Fortunately, my therapist quickly sized up my situation and offered the suggestion of taking a little “sabbatical” from going to meetings for a month or two to focus on myself and my relationship. It took very little time away from meetings for me to realize the degree to which I’d been a victim of some very serious mind control on the part of the WTS. Needless to say, within about 4 or 5 months, I stopped going to meetings and never went back.

This upset my parents and family greatly. Of course, all my friends (and like all good JWs, I didn’t have ANY friends who weren’t JWs) went away, and things with my parents have been very distant since then as well. (They don’t know about my conversion to Catholicism yet. I expect when they do, it’s only going to make things worse. It’s tough being an apostate )

Anyway, the intervening years have been quite a journey. I got a Master’s in Humanistic and Clinical Psychology, studied Existential psychology, became involved in the study of the occult, studied Eastern philosophy and religion…basically anything that wasn’t Christian.

Around March of 2004, I was starting to feel some sort of spiritual awakening (or at least some spiritual curiosity). I was on a business trip in Chicago and had some time available in the morning so I wandered into a Borders near my hotel.

As my eyes scanned the Christianity section, I noticed something on the bottom shelf of the rack. I knelt down and reached for the book that caught my eye. As I touched the book, my fingers literally tingled (at that point, I’d had enough experience with “metaphysical” experiences to know that this wasn’t just an accident—it was a “meaningful coincidence”). The book was entitled “Crossing the Threshold of Hope” by Pope John Paul II. Of course, I purchased the book along with the Bible.

I went to a restaurant to get some lunch and began reading “Crossing the Threshold of Hope”. What I read in those first 20 pages was so beautiful; I was literally in tears sitting in Quizno’s. I intuitively knew God was stirring something deep within me, and that He was calling me to explore something I’d never, EVER considered exploring: the Catholic faith.

Over the next month I read “Crossing” and began doing a little praying for the first time in many years. As Easter Sunday of 2004 approached, it dawned on me that I wanted to attend Easter Sunday Mass (which, in and of itself was a pretty strange impulse for me to have), and decided to visit my local parish. On my way to the church, I prayed that God would keep my mind open; that He would let me have whatever experience I was supposed to have that day.

Of course, I felt genuinely awkward as I went into the church. I knew nothing of bows, genuflections, when to sit, when to stand, and certainly didn’t know what the heck was going on.

In spite of all that, I had a profound experience during that Mass. As the priest went around sprinkling the crowd with holy water, I, for the first time, really KNEW how much God loved me, and how much He wanted me to experience His mercy and forgiveness. It was a moment I’ll never forget.

By mid-May I was enrolled in RCIA for the Fall, and discovering the Eucharist, the meaning of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, St. Augustine and the writings of contemporary theologians like Pope John Paul and Scott Hahn. I felt like I’d discovered something incredible!

Before I knew it, I was dressed in a white robe, carrying a candle, being baptized, receiving Confirmation and first Communion.

When I look back on it, it’s really clear to me that God has been at work in my life for many years, gently leading and guiding me (sometimes not so gently!) to my true Home.

That’s my story in a nutshell!

Thoughts? Comments?


#2

I am quaking! What a remarkable tale. Your experience with *Crossing the Threshold of Hope *makes me cry out: Santo subito!


#3

[quote=mercygate]I am quaking! What a remarkable tale. Your experience with *Crossing the Threshold of Hope *makes me cry out: Santo subito!
[/quote]

Yep, Pope John Paul has been a very powerful force in my life in many ways. I won’t even go into the dreams I’ve had (before his death) in which we were discussing theological topics and in which he said, “I’ve come to you several times now…I want you to come visit me in Rome.”

I get chills thinking about it, even now…

Regards,

John Paul Augustine (my confirmation name!)


#4

Chills up and down the spine!


#5

Awesome 'possum!
Welcome to da familia, JP
:thumbsup:


#6

It is wonderful to have your recounting on these forums. You serve as an insiration and proof of God’s Holy Spirit at work.

I know several JW’s who won’t even open an ear to the truth.

God bless you and welcome aboard.

Subrosa


#7

I too am an ex Jehovah’s Witness. In reading the Bible by itself, I discovered that the doctrine of the Trinity was really true, and got baptized in the Presbyterian Church in 1990. Reading more of the Bible, and then of the early Church Fathers made me realize (to my initial shock !! ) that the early Christians were Catholics, and that is what led me eventually to join the Catholic Church.
Welcome to the Church, JP!!
Jaypeeto2 :slight_smile:


#8

Tears and goosebumps! What a wonderful confirmation of God’s love and the obedience to His call!

Blessings to ALL converts ( I tend to believe that converts and reverts are who will help “save” the Church through the choices they’ve made… not that the Church is dying… but Jesus told us He’d always be there… I think you are one of His instruments)


#9

[quote=Jaypeeto2]I too am an ex Jehovah’s Witness. In reading the Bible by itself, I discovered that the doctrine of the Trinity was really true, and got baptized in the Presbyterian Church in 1990. Reading more of the Bible, and then of the early Church Fathers made me realize (to my initial shock !! ) that the early Christians were Catholics, and that is what led me eventually to join the Catholic Church.
Welcome to the Church, JP!!
Jaypeeto2 :slight_smile:
[/quote]

Studying the early Church fathers was a very persuasive thing to me, as well. After being taught that there was an early apostasy (which occurred within the first hundred years after Jesus’ death), I realized that this was simply not true at all.

Instead, I realized that the way JWs view Jesus is, itself, a re-hashing of the Arian heresy that grew up around the 3rd century. It’s interesting to note that the Nicean Creed (which JWs erroneously point to as the beginning of the Church’s belief in the Trinity) was really just an effort on the part of the early Church to put a definitive stamp on what the apostles and first century Christians had always taught about Jesus’ identity. In effect, Arius forced the Church’s hand to be more clear. Hence, we believe He is “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, One in Being with the Father.”

And, from a pure logic standpoint, how could it be possible that the one thing that Jesus clearly established (i.e., his Church on Earth) fall into complete disunity and confusion so quickly? Based on the teachings of the JWs, one would think that such a thing occurred. In reality, believing something like that is more akin to believing in conspiracy theories. :eek:

Powerful stuff, for sure…

JPA


#10

[quote=Loboto-Me]Tears and goosebumps! What a wonderful confirmation of God’s love and the obedience to His call!

Blessings to ALL converts ( I tend to believe that converts and reverts are who will help “save” the Church through the choices they’ve made… not that the Church is dying… but Jesus told us He’d always be there… I think you are one of His instruments)
[/quote]

Thanks for your kind words, Loboto…

JPA


#11

Thank you for taking Carol Marie’s advice and sharing your story with us.

I wonder if your studies in the eastern philosophies and occult opened your heart to reach Catholicism. Did you spend all those years studying those topics because something had been missing from the JW experience all along?? We know that your journey had to take the course it did in order to bring you home, but it’s fascinating to learn just what triggers one to start out on that journey in the first place.


#12

Hi JP and welcome home!
I don’t know how an inquiring mind like yours got through 20 years as a jw. I spent about 18 months “studying” with them about 25 years ago.
Being a history buff, I was soon disillusioned by their lack of history or any reference prior to Russell. (and they didn’t even like to discuss him!)
The kicker was when a guy and his wife showed up to my house for the weekly "study, in replacement of the regular woman. I was asking hard questions by that time so they brought in “the big guns”. The guy looked at my ceiling to floor, wall to wall packed bookshelves and said, “All those have to go”.
That was it for me.
Welcome to the family of God!


#13

JP Augustine

That tingling sensation you experienced, you should contact EWTN for them to replay a video of that program where in the 1890’s, a Jehovah Witness by the name of Brutus(?) Brullo(?) was going to assasinate the pope. The Blessed Virgin Mary then appeared to his young daughters and him in an apparition and said to him something like this, “Enough of this foolishnes. Welcome to the true Church . . . . .”

As a result he did not assasinate the pope. From what must have been an extreme form of JW considering that he was going to assassinate the pope, like you, he became a Catholic. His daughters who were children became Catholic nuns when they grew up. The dagger which he intended to use in assassinating the pope, HE GAVE TO THE POPE AS A GIFT!!!

I would say very similiar to your story and the story of St Longinus, the Roman Centurion who pierced Christ on the side with his spear, causing BLOOD AND WATER TO SPILL OUT. . The sons of St. Longinus all became priests. The bible says, “THEY SHALL REMEMBER HIM THEY HAVE PIERCED.” Google, “miracle of lanciano negri.” St. Longinus was born in Lanciano where 14(?) centuries later, the CONSECRATED HOST TURNED INTO FLESH AND THE CONSECRATED WINE INTO BLOOD. THEY ARE STILL HERE AND MEDICAL ANALYSIS HAVE BEEN DONE ON THEM. Look at the medical microphotographs including the tiny blood vessels at the negri website…


#14

[quote=YinYangMom]Thank you for taking Carol Marie’s advice and sharing your story with us.

I wonder if your studies in the eastern philosophies and occult opened your heart to reach Catholicism. Did you spend all those years studying those topics because something had been missing from the JW experience all along?? We know that your journey had to take the course it did in order to bring you home, but it’s fascinating to learn just what triggers one to start out on that journey in the first place.
[/quote]

I think what wound up happening is that, because I held such a grudge against “Christianity”, I needed to spend some years approaching God from non-Christian directions. Ultimately, for me, that turned out to be a “dead end”, but it’s clear that God was biding His time, and patiently waiting for me to come around and realize that was right under my nose the whole time.

Regarding what triggered the journey, I think God had a hand in that, as well. I wound up making an extremely poor choice in marriage, and the pain that the relationship caused forced me to re-consider everything in my life. That process started the ball rolling, and it definitely propelled me on this wonderful journey.


#15

[quote=catsrus]Hi JP and welcome home!
I don’t know how an inquiring mind like yours got through 20 years as a jw.
[/quote]

That’s a really good point, and I think what wound up happening for me was that my “enquiring mind” didn’t get around to enquiring about my faith until I was forced to do so due to life circumstances.

As you experienced, there’s a very strong “It’s dangerous to explore any other viewpoints than the one we give you” mentality among JWs. This induced phobia of anything not published by the WTS keeps most people in the fold, and it keeps “loyal” JWs from ever considering that there are valid concerns about what they’re being taught.

My family is all still JWs, and I pray for them every day…It’s sad, really. :frowning:


#16

JP,
You aren’t an apostate. I congratulate you on your most important choice in your life. I will pray you stand fast with the true Faith, and may God give you all the graces you need.

To learn about our beautiful Faith, go to amm.org/chss.htm

Enroll in it and have a good trip, the books really help you develop in the Faith. Check it out.


#17

I think that is an awesome story.

(Don’t worry I’m not a Jehovah’s Witness just because of my screenname.)

I watched some Fundamentalist propaganda on JWs. I didn’t believe most of it, but from your story I guess it’s true that the Watchtower Society does actually keep “mind control” over its members.


#18

[quote=KingdomHallsEnd]I think that is an awesome story.

(Don’t worry I’m not a Jehovah’s Witness just because of my screenname.)

I watched some Fundamentalist propaganda on JWs. I didn’t believe most of it, but from your story I guess it’s true that the Watchtower Society does actually keep “mind control” over its members.
[/quote]

Yes, you’re right: I believe that they do. I actually wrote my thesis for my Master’s in Clinical Psychology about that topic, and the process that ex-JWs go through as they truly become “themselves” again (or, for the first time!). I don’t even think the WTS is conscious of the mind control they exert. I think it’s an institutional culture that winds up controlling its members minds in a very spiritually destructive way…


#19

Have you been on “The Journey Home” show on EWTN? If not I would like to hear you.


#20

That’s truly a moving story. Pope John Paul II was a great “fisher of men”. Your story could actually contribute to Pope John Paul II’s sainthood.

Please read this:

With no publicity, Msgr. Oder in mid-June published his e-mail address – Postulazione.GiovanniPaoloII@VicariatusUrbis.org – for people who wanted to share their personal stories about Pope John Paul, what he taught them and favors they believe they have received through his intercession.

Source: catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0503691.htm


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.