This year’s Holy Week and Easter mark my 7th year as entering into the Catholic Church. SEVEN years! That just seems crazy to me!
I’ve had quite a few inquiries about my personal journey with Catholicism and sharing my conversion story has been on my heart for quite some time now…so I thought this would be the perfect time to do so!
I also think we’re in a time right now where Catholicism is facing a lot of criticism (and rightly so) and there are a lot of misbeliefs about what goes on in the Church. While I will not attempt to debunk those misbeliefs right here, I do intend to share my story because I feel it’s important to those who may feel like they cannot live out their faith boldly.
Even if you aren’t Catholic like I am, I feel like it’s still important to encourage you to live out your Faith boldly. I think we live in a culture where sometimes it can be hard to be yourself. It can be hard to claim Jesus as your savior. It can be hard to take up your cross. But when you start taking up your cross and living boldly, I think it can encourage those around you to do the same. And that’s why I think it’s important to live out your Faith boldly and proudly.
I like to say that I went off to college and came back Catholic. Because that’s essentially what happened.
But I have to rewind and go back to my roots here.
Growing up, my family did not necessarily attend church regularly. Sure I knew who Jesus was, but religion wasn’t really forced on my siblings and me when I was growing up. We’d go to church as a family on major holiday and I’d go to church with friends every now and then, but I don’t think my parents ever really found a “church home” and so it just wasn’t ever forced on us.
Looking back, I really am thankful for these roots because I was able to investigate and find my own path here. Not having a forced religion allowed me to seek truth freely without any fear of disobeying or disappointing my parents. For the record, I don’t think parents really force religion on their children. But I do think it’s the parent’s duty to guide their children to seek truth, Jesus, and the Kingdom of God.
Anyways, I was able to seek for myself the fundamental truths of Christianity. I was able to find out who Jesus is and, in the process, who I am. And I’m so thankful for that!
Throughout high school I would attend various churches with friends and I even participated in Young Life, which is an amazing organization that initially guided me towards Christ. I’m so thankful that I had Young Life when I was in high school because it helped keep my priorities centered around Christ – which is not something that’s easy to do when you’re in high school!
My husband, Carlos, is what we call a “cradle-Catholic,” meaning he was born and raised in the Catholic Church. Some of you may know that I met Carlos in 1st grade and we started dating our freshman year of high school. Anyways.
When I was 16 I started going to Church with Carlos. Every Saturday evening, he, his mom, and his sister would let me tag along with them to church. It was during these times at Mass that I fell in love with Catholicism. Sure I didn’t quite understand everything but this is what initially sparked my curiosity and thirst for understanding.
The traditions. The rituals. The help from the Saints. Holy Mary Mother of God. The structure. The Mass. Everything.
I could see it all coming together. I finally saw how all the pieces fit together.
As a teenager I wandered around from church to church (prior to being introduced to the Catholic Church). While I’m thankful for all the churches that welcomed me regardless of who I was, I never felt quite like I did when I attended Mass. So attending Mass with Carlos and his family became a regular thing for me, even though I wasn’t Catholic at the time.
It just made sense. My heart was finally at peace and I no longer felt hungry for more.
I know it sounds cliche but that’s just how I felt at the time. I still feel this way when I leave Mass: my heart is at peace, I leave forgiven and just having received the Body of Christ. I feel full.
Carlos and his family were very patient with me. I had many questions. And they answered all of them for me.
The Catholic Church provided all the answers to the questions I had been asking myself while I was growing up. And there was concrete evidence of their answers, it just made sense.
Even at that time, I knew I’d be Catholic one day. I knew I’d have to attend classes as an adult to learn more about the Catholic Church. I also knew that I wanted to marry Carlos in a Catholic Church and I wanted to raise any and all kids we had in the Church. There’s no other way to put it other than I just knew it.
So I spent the very first week at college calling local Catholic churches to find out how to get started with these classes. The Catholic Church invests time in adults who wish to know more about the Faith and these classes are called the Right of Christian Initiation of Adults (or RCIA).
God led me toward the Sacred Heart parish in Wichita Falls. I went to the classes every week, learned about the Faith, and continued to fall in love with the Church. Each week I would attend the classes in the parish center and be surrounded by supportive and kind people that pointed us towards Christ.
On April 7, 2012 I was baptized, confirmed, and received my very first Holy Communion. I was 19 years old. April 7 is my second birthday (and it’s actually my half-birthday as well, pretty cool) because it is the day I was cleansed with the waters of baptism and proclaimed my faith forever.
Carlos’s mother is my god mother and she baptized me. I also had a sponsor, Francis, and we met pretty regularly for lunch. She was an empty-nester and she welcomed me as if I was one of her own children! My parents were present at the Easter Vigil (something that was probably very foreign to them at the time) and I still remember all the details of that amazing night. It was a long and arduous process, but it was simply glorious.
I enjoy Catholicism because it’s hard. Wait, what did she just say?
Yes. Catholicism is hard. Natural Family Planning is hard. Confessing my sins is hard. Carrying my cross is hard. Accepting my vocations and praying for the vocations of others is sometimes hard. Being judged for the actions of others in the Church is hard. Trusting in God’s plan and abandoning my will for His will is hard.
But Jesus’s life was harder. His death for my sins was harder.
His cross was heavier.
Fast forward seven years…
Carlos and I still attend the church we attended together when we were 16. We got married in this church. Both of our sons were baptized in this church.
And if you’re wondering what ever happened to my parents…they pursued truth and the Kingdom as well. A couple of years ago they began attending RCIA classes (just as I had done when I was learning about Catholicism) at the same church Carlos and I attend. On Easter of 2017 they both became Catholic. I had the privilege of baptizing my father and I was both of my parent’s sponsor into the Catholic Church. I walked with them the entire way.
My parent’s conversion is quite a unique story but I enjoy telling it! My parents faith (and ultimate conversion) was something I’d prayed for for a long time. Their conversion story is proof that the Holy Spirit can use us in all kinds of ways to inspire and lead people toward Christ.
My parents are now very active in RCIA and guide individuals into the church each Easter season.
Pretty crazy, huh?
So my story is a bit different story and might not have been what you were expecting. And maybe Catholicism isn’t your home and that’s okay! But I still want to encourage you to live your faith boldly. Proudly and boldly claim Jesus because you never know who is paying attention, you never know how the Holy Spirit can use your boldness to profess Jesus to others.
Go and live your faith boldly! This involves taking risks and getting out of your comfort zone, but it also involves great mercy and favor in the eyes of the Lord.
If you have any lingering questions feel free to reach out to me!
God Bless & thank you for reading!