“Here lies the test of truth, the touchstone of evangelization: it is unthinkable that a person should accept the Word and give himself to the kingdom without becoming a person who bears witness to it and proclaims it in his turn“. Pope St. Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 24
“Each of us has an exclusive story that no one except God fully knows. Our experiences of conversion, renewal, and healing make up our faith story. God writes our faith story day by day, event by event, and decision by decision as we respond to that divine spark of his life that he created within us.” Nancy H.C. Ward, “Sharing Your Catholic Faith Story”
A New Book of Conversion Stories
Conversion stories interest the Catholic faithful (possibly because the missionary impulse that goes with faith is vicariously satisfied). So, I’m happy to announce a new book of these: “Sharing Your Catholic Faith Story,” by Nancy Ward. (I have a special interest in promoting the book, since my conversion story is one of the 30.)
A preliminary section by Nancy Ward explains why and how converts should tell their story. Conversion stories are a tool for evangelization, as first witnessed by a famous convert, St. Paul, when he told how he heard Jesus on the road to Damascus.
Not all of the stories are strictly about conversion. Some tell how a lukewarm Catholic faith became ardent. And some achieved this faith at an early age by visions or voices. Some went from “New Age” explorations of spirituality, some from atheism, some from agnosticism. A few (including me) achieved faith by a semi-rational process, that is to say, “Top Down to Jesus.”
Authors’ Testimony (as given in “Sharing Your Catholic Faith Story”)
- “Julie Davis was an atheist who made a bargain with God.
- Virginia Pillars brought her schizophrenic daughter home for a weekend that lasted four years.
- Bill Alexander’s alcoholic father, poor upbringing, and dyslexia convinced him as a child that God couldn’t love him.
- Rob Brull had to lose his parents, his savings, and his job before he got fired up about his faith through Catholic radio.
- Cynthia Gill Bates left the Mormon Church of her childhood and found that Mormons make good Catholics.
- Michael Fraley was an Evangelical who knew he needed something more and searched for Truth in the early Church Fathers.
- Tima Borges had a troubled marriage that left God out of family planning.
- Cheryl Ann Wills was a suicidal flower child headed for an early death.
- John Chomistek had visits from God, who warned him about an impending disaster..
- Bishop Mark Seitz experienced a moment of grace the summer he was eight that convinced him to become a priest.
- Gloria Castro’s Baptist neighbor led her through the Sinner’s Prayer when Gloria was eighteen.
- Bob Kurland , a physicist and secular Jew married to a Catholic, was drafted as an altar server at his daughter’s baptism.
- Jeannie Ewing questioned her Catholic faith in high school and bargained with her parents so she could go church shopping.
- Elizabeth Reardon discovered in college that she no longer felt Christ’s presence in her Protestant worship service.
- Lisa Nicholas first saw a crucifix at a neighbor’s home when she was in the first grade, but Lisa’s mother told her it was nonsense.
- Karl Erickson stood out as a Protestant in Catholic school and once was pulled out of the Communion line by a teacher.
- Greg Wasinski had zero respect for the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, until it became the point of his return to Catholicism.
- Cyndi Lucky found out that, by allowing her to be adopted, God saved her from abortion.
- Colleen Spiro found that the symbol of Jesus in the Protestant Communion Service was not enough for her.
- Neil Combs’ Cursillo weekend began a three-year journey to learn about prayer and write a book on developing a deeper relationship with Christ.
- Sister Anne Marie Walsh, SOLT, had to experience death in a relationship to understand she was never going to find what she was looking for on a purely human level.
- Diane Roe felt a big, comforting hug engulfing her as she slept; the storm ceased, and a familiar presence engulfed her.
- Jennifer Fitz discovered the depth of her departure from God when she entered a mission church and could not feel God’s presence.
- Margaret Reveira committed her life to Christ and was immediately attacked by her nondenominational friends, who insisted she could not be blessed unless she left the Catholic Church.
- Lyn Mettler was a New Ager looking for self-improvement when suddenly she was given the eyes of faith, as if a light switch had been flipped on.
- Virginia Lieto was a lukewarm Catholic, running through the motions of doing what was expected, when she felt drawn into a deeper commitment.
- Brian Gill didn’t want to become a Catholic, but what he learned in Humanae Vitae forced him to admit the truth.
- Melanie Jean Juneau’s evangelical friend in high school stirred a yearning in her for a deeper intimacy with God, but she did not know how to nurture it.
- Kevin Luksus felt like he was in a hole; he wanted to get out, but he just didn’t know how.”
And so these authors confirm that the Church is not only Catholic with a big C, but catholic—universal—with a small c.