My Catholic Conversion Story – Part 1: The Beginning of the End

Part 1 of the story of how I went from being agnostic to Catholic, and all the moments that made my conversion possible.

Catholic baptismal candle

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am a convert to Catholicism. I was Baptized, Confirmed, and received my First Holy Communion on April 19th, 2014. To celebrate, I’m finally taking the time to write down my conversion story.

From the moment I started this blog, I knew that I wanted to tell this story eventually. Even though I’ve recounted it a million times, and every detail has been carved into my heart, finding the words to describe the impact this religion has had on my life has proven difficult. How does one capture all of the highs and lows of joining a Faith people seem so eager to escape or only stay in because that’s what their families have believed since the dawn of time? Why join a Church that stands so firmly in opposition to the culture we live in? Do I share the trials and tribulations or only the warm and fuzzy highlights? So much to tell, so little time…

Since I am utterly incapable of being concise, you’re going to get the whole story, dear reader: the good, the bad, the very ugly, the oh-so-beautiful, and everything in-between. I will tell it in parts to make it a more manageable read, but it’s a bit of a slow burner. So gird your loins and prepare for all the details!

So without further ado, here is my story.

My Religious Upbringing (Or Lack Thereof)

I mentioned in my last post that I did not really have much use for religion when I was growing up. My father is agnostic and only talked about God when it was convenient or if he was comparing his power over our lives to that of the Almighty. My mother was baptized Methodist and did her very best to teach us the dire need to ask Jesus to be our personal Lord and Savior so we can go to heaven. Mom took us to our first church service when I was around nine years old, and that was only because my faith-filled younger sister begged and pleaded for us to go to the little church across the street from our uncle’s house. The only thing I remember from that service was that a man got up and sang a song called “Can He Feel the Nails?” and we all sat silently weeping in our pew.

That was the first and last powerful moment I would feel in a church for many years.

In the years that followed, I had a handful of experiences at different churches. I drank grape juice out of little plastic medicine cups and ate cheesy goldfish crackers at a Methodist church in Kansas. I dreaded overly enthusiastic renditions of “I’ll Fly Away” at the little “boat church” at the lakeside campground down the street from our house. I read the New International Version Bible from cover to cover, searching for answers. I was tired of getting dozens of different answers to my questions from all of the pamphlets given to us by well-meaning friends. I figured that this book had to have some concrete solutions to the problems and agonies I faced daily.

Catholicism Never Bothered Me Anyway

The only thing I knew about Catholics was that I was most certainly not one. I knew my grandfather came from a family of Catholics who immigrated from Italy. I remembered the gold necklace worn by my great-grandmother: a cross that had Jesus still nailed to it that hung next to a charm in the shape of her homeland and a bullhorn that was supposed to keep the devil away, but that was about it. I remember feeling sympathetic towards those poor papists. Especially whenever my Protestant homeschool curriculum would repeatedly go out of its way to point out the evils of the Church. I thought it was odd that these texts insisted that true Christianity did not start until Luther started driving nails into a door on All Hallows Eve.

I did not know what Catholics believed, nor did I care. I studied Greek mythology, Atheism, and Eastern religions. Catholicism was nothing more than just another denomination of a belief system that was very quickly wearing thin on my patience as far as I was concerned. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with a dear, very Catholic friend about the all-too-common misconceptions and accusations she dealt with as a Catholic in the Bible-Belt did I realize just how different Catholicism was from all of the other sects of Christianity.

One impassioned declaration stood in particular: that she would rather have someone cut out her own heart than hurt the Blessed Sacrament. I didn’t know what the heck a Sacrament was or why it would be Blessed, but it was intriguing to my drama-loving heart that she cared about it enough to prefer death to anything happening to it. “Must be nice to believe in something that strongly,” I thought to myself before steering the conversation away from her strange religion in favor of gossip sessions about boys and fangirling over Pirates of the Caribbean.

Life Goes On and On…

Meanwhile, my family life continued to deteriorate. My father’s abusive behaviors were becoming harder to ignore or make excuses for. I began to beg God to make him a better person or for something to happen that would free us from his clutches. Every day I would pray. Every day I would beg and wait for some miracle to occur and heal the festering wound in my family. And every day that passed, and I found myself sobbing in a closet, hiding from whatever nightmare was going on at that moment, my faith in God grew weaker. What good was a God that claimed to love the world so much that He allowed His own Son to die horribly when He clearly could not have cared less about my pain? Why was I even bothering to pray to some all-knowing Creator when He did not care that my body was aching from a stress-induced eating disorder? Who cared about making it to heaven when I watched my mother and siblings live through our personal hell day in and day out?

For years this pattern continued. Pray. Hope. Disappointment. Anger. Desperation. Pray. Rinse and repeat.

And then, the end came…

Stay tuned for Part II!


Musings of a Catholic Mama uses Accessibility Checker to monitor our website's accessibility.