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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Kim: My Conversion Story

Kim from Dispatches from the Northern Outpost has joined the blogroll and shared her conversion story which is included in this post.


I grew up going to church every Sunday. My grandfather, Superintendent
of Sunday School for a Methodist church for 30 years, took me with
him. I went early and put the offering baskets and metal globe-shaped
banks for the missions in each classroom every Sunday morning. It was
a somewhat dull but oddly comforting weekly ritual. Our pastor was by
no means exciting but he was a kind man with a big, cheerful family. I
remember once being in his office and he showed us a vial of water
that he'd filled in the Jordan River. He said he put a few drops of it
in the baptismal font every time someone was baptized. I remember
being absolutely fascinated by the idea. A foreshadowing of my
fascination with holy water? Who knows. I grew up your typical youth
group attending, church-camp-in-the-summer Methodist kid. I had an
official 'accept Jesus into my heart' experience on December 6th,
1985, at a Mylon LeFevre and Broken Heart Concert at Faith City High
School in Delaware. (Hollaback if you have ANY IDEA who that is!)
I graduated from high school in 1988 and went to Messiah College. I
went to school with the intention of being a pastor. I'm thinking it
was less of a genuine call and more because my then boyfriend was also
going to be (and is, actually) a pastor, but I enrolled with a Bible
major and quickly discovered two things; my lack of aptitude for
ancient Greek and my disinterest in reading hundreds of pages written
by long dead German theologians. I had a roommate who 'used to be
Catholic' but left the Church for a non-denominational church with an
awesome sound system. Failing Greek, I changed my major to the
slightly more nebulous 'Christian Ministries'...whatever the
difference was I was off the hook for serious exegesis and dodged the
language bullet. (I was looking at three more years of Greek and two
of Hebrew.)
Then a funny thing happened. My tambourine-shaking roommate went back
to the Church. She said she had an overwhelming desire to find her
Rosary and pray, some time after a friend gave her a rattly, much used
copy of the Conversion of Scott Hahn cassette. She invited me to a
study at St Joseph's Church in Mechanicsburg PA on Alan Schreck's
'Catholic and Christian: Commonly Misunderstood Beliefs of the
Catholic Church'. I agreed to go. I read the book, said 'that's
interesting', and stuck it in a box. She transferred to Steubenville
and asked me if I wanted to come too. I laughed at her and said, 'Why
would I do that when I'm not Catholic?'. Another year went by, and one
night I was sitting in the library at school and I was overwhelmed to
distraction with the desire to find that Schreck book and read it
again. All I knew was I needed to leave right then and go and find it.
I dug it out of storage in the basement of my dorm. I still smile when
I hear the story of St Augustine hearing a voice say 'take and
read'....because it was like that. I don't know how else to explain it
all except to say that when I read that book a second time I KNEW that
it was true. I called St Joseph's, and I said, I don't know what is
involved, what I have to do, or whether you'll let me, but I need to
be Catholic. I was lucky; the woman who answered the phone was a
convert too. She didn't think I was nuts. I had no car, so she brought
me to church, where I met Fr. John Trigilio. (This was before Fr. John
was on EWTN, or co-wrote 'Catholicism for Dummies'--our best
apologetics discussions were had over a large pie, half mushroom, half
pepperoni.) Since I was on a college schedule and lived 125 miles
away, conventional RCIA wasn't going to work. He agreed to COME TO
SCHOOL and instruct me, which was a lot of fun in a school of 2400
Protestants of various flavors and 5 (FIVE) Catholics. We'd meet in
the library. Fr. John is a cassock-wearing guy, he adds the wool cape
and 'Bells of St Mary's' hat in the winter. He used to joke that he
was worried the students in the library would give themselves whiplash
looking at him when he came in.
November 22, 1991, Christ the King Sunday, I was received into the
church at Saturday evening vigil Mass. No family, no other converts,
my witnesses were a pewful of Protestant friends and one Catholic
friend who drove all the way from Steubenville to be there. I have
never been so sure of anything in my life, than that God wanted me
there, and brought me to that place. For the first time faith was not
simply an activity I had chosen to engage in. It was a relationship
with the One Who sought me, and found me. In the sixteen years since,
I've had struggles, but no matter how dark the road has seemed at
times I know He is still holding on to me.

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that foll'west all my way,
I yield my flick'ring torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine's blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life's glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

2 comments:

Bryan G. Robinson said...

Thanks to the faith of my wife and others like her, I'm now Catholic too. Thanks, hon.

Caldonia Sun said...

I enjoyed reading your conversion story. After almost 30 years as a Prot, I converted to eastern orthodoxy, but love to attend mass occasionally. Mylon L. was a favorite of mine during the 80's. Went to a few of his concerts and had most of his albums.

BTW, Mechanicsburg is in my backyard. Small world!