I get a lot of questions from friends and readers who are interested in Catholicism but don’t know where to begin on their journey to learn more. As still a recent convert (class of 2010!) I’m no expert, but I’ll tell you a few things we’ve learned about crossing the Tiber.
Cover your spiritual journey in prayer. Pray that God will guide you. Pray the Rosary. Pray before the Blessed Sacrament. Pray, pray, pray.
For my husband and I, our conversion was deeply influenced by books. And reading is a great way to learn more about the Catholic faith. Don’t know where to start? Here’s some ideas:
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
If you want to understand what the Church teaches, this is a great place to begin!
Signs of Life by Scott Hahn
Dr. Hahn is also a convert and this book is a beautiful introduction to Catholic sacraments, sacramentals, and practices. Hahn includes many, many Scripture references and his explanation of how sacraments are biblically based is very helpful, especially to those of us coming from a Protestant background.
Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
“There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy.” Make Chesterton your friend.
On Being Catholic by Thomas Howard
Written by a convert, this book explains facets of the Catholic faith and Catholic worldview and dispels misunderstandings about Catholic teaching that might arise if you’re coming from a Protestant perspective.
Return to Rome by Francis Beckwith
Dr. Beckwith’s explanation of his reversion to Catholicism after being President of the Evangelical Theological Society is a great conversion story.
Crossing the Tiber by Stephen Ray
Part I discusses Ray’s conversion story from Protestantism and Parts II and III discuss Baptism and the Holy Eucharist.
You may also be interested in discovering some of the writings of the Church Fathers such as: The Epistles of St. Clement of Rome and St. Ignatius of Antioch. (There’s a good Paulist Press edition) and The Prayers and Meditations of St. Anselm, Confessions or the Enchiridion of Faith, Hope, and Love (by St. Augustine), and Selected Writings of Maximus Confessor.
I haven’t read Rome, Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberly Hahn or Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic by David Currie but I’ve heard that those are worth reading, too! (Sarah wrote a little review of the latter in one of her recent posts.)
Call Your Local Parish
Start attending Mass and call up your local Catholic parish and ask how you can learn more about the faith. One way to do this is to attend RCIA classes (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults). The classes usually start in the Fall and end at Easter. You’re not under any obligation to convert if you go through the program. Your parish will be happy to let you just sit in, if that’s what you want to do. And I’ll be honest…not all RCIA classes are created equal. I’ve heard about good and bad experiences depending on who’s teaching. I would describe our experience in RCIA as “OK.” If your questions are not being answered or you think the classes leave something to be desired, try to meet with a priest one-on-one as well.
Start a Conversation with Friends and Family
One of the questions I’m asked often is how to break the news to family. Looking back, there’s some things we would have done differently. Firstly, if you are wrestling with matters of faith, allow your family and friends to wrestle with you. Start the conversation and let your loved ones in on your thoughts from the get-go. If your conversion is going to be upsetting to loved ones, don’t let an unexpected decision add to their difficulty with the news. Allow them to examine the questions you have with you as you continue on this journey. You may think your conversion won’t come as a surprise, but unless you make your journey of faith a conversation with your loved ones from the beginning, it probably will be a shock.
Secondly, if you decide that you definitely are going to convert, it might be a good idea to write out all your reasoning for this huge step and let your family read and process that information privately. Let them know that you’d love to answer any questions they have in person. If the news of your conversion might be painful to your family, give them the grace of digesting that news before having to talk to you about it face-to-face. And remember to offer them respect, patience, and charity. The news might not be easy for them to take so give them lots of time, grace, and prayers.
Great list, Haley. I’m a cradle Catholic but On Being Catholic was what started the ball rolling on bringing my heart back to the Church when I was very close to leaving. This is a super resource for people! Thanks for doing it!
Thanks, Mary! I love that book, too.
I’d recommend checking out your local church’s bulletin for social events. My church has a young adult group (25-32) that meets monthly and several other events through the knitting club, mom’s group, teen group, etc.
Also I’d definitely tell people to go to the Friday Night Fish Fry during lent! Almost every church (at least in my area) has them, the food is always really good, and usually the priests, deacons, lectors, and active families in the church are all hanging out.
What a cool post!
I’m a cradle Catholic, so I can’t give insight into the experience of conversion from another Faith. But I have some experience teaching RCIA and I would like to just second what you said, Haley: Not all RCIA classes are created equal!
RCIA is a wonderful thing and the (ancient!) process is designed to be very gentle and very much a gradual discernment. But these days a lot depends on who is teaching you and what materials they are using (some materials designed for RICA are *very bad*). So if you do enter an RCIA program, be sure to do your own individual reading along with it and check your teachers by the Catechism and other trustworthy authorities. Talk to Catholics whom you know are faithfully and devoutly practicing and review what you learn in RCIA with them. Make sure that the priests you talk to and learn from are reverent and devoted to the Eucharist.
Good advice, Deirdre. It’s difficult to discern the quality of what you’re being taught if you’re in RCIA to learn more about what the Church teaches. Which RCIA materials do you consider, “the good ones”? Maybe I could link to them.
Yes, I hate the fact that the burden of checking materials might fall to someone in the process of conversion. It’s a bad situation. :-/
I don’t know of any particularly great materials designed specifically for RCIA. Maybe they’re out there and I’m just not familiar. But I’d say that, in general, it would be best for an RCIA class to just stick to ‘original documents’ as it were – the Catechism, Church Fathers and Doctors of the Church, etc. If I learn of any particularly good RCIA-specific materials, I will let you know!
Melissa H-K says
God really had to push me into becoming a Catholic, so I’m very familiar with all the objections!
Here’s one suggestion: if at first you don’t find a priest with whom you click, try again. Ask your Catholic friends. Ask my daughter Meg at http://www.piercedhands.com. Meg travels the country giving dynamic workshops and talks about Catholicism and, really, Christianity in general, if that’s what her audience wants. She is what is called a “revert”—raised Catholic, didn’t get it, then later on GOT IT with a bang! With her extremely wide circle of friends, she can almost certainly find a congenial Catholic authority for anybody with questions!
I love following Meg’s blog! She is awesome! What a proud mama you must be!
Melissa H-K says
Thanks so much, Haley! I’m certainly proud of Meg, but that’s kind of a problem, too. It seems to me that people must assume that I’m biased. Well, yeah, I am, but she really is awesome at her job! So to prove it, here are some things that Meg does not do with awesome skill: she doesn’t sew or garden. I do those. 🙂
As a recent convert myself (class of 2012!), I can say this is an excellent list for someone who is seeking, and looking more into Catholicism. I have read Signs of Life and can vouch for its excellence. I have also read a bit of Chesterton, namely Orthodoxy, and it is also a great place to start. I did a lot of reading saints lives during our discernment and RCIA process. St. Therese of Lisieux had a big hand in my conversion, as did St. Benedict’s Rule, St. Augustine, and St. Catherine of Siena. Thanks for a great post.
Reading about the saints and getting to know them! That is definitely great advice. Thanks, Tacy.
All wonderful books, most of which I’ve read as I go through my discernment process. I also highly recommend Peter Kreeft, everything else by Scott Hahn, and the book Catholic and Fundamentalist whose author escapes me at the moment. That was the first book I read, and the first time I had ever heard a biblical defense of so many things in the Catholic Church that are objectionable to Protestants. Regarding RCIA, my personal difficulty when going through those classes with my husband was that it didn’t seem to be a place to question and really dig into the teachings; it was just a presentation, rather than a discussion. We didn’t feel comfortable raising questions and objections, not wanting to upset those who were planning to join the Church at the end of the class. We have been meeting with the priest since the classes ended, which is more helpful in some ways, but I feel like it would be better if we could meet with someone who really had a grasp of Protestant theology and could explain Catholic teaching in contrast. Unfortunately my husband is not really a reader, or Scott Hahn’s books would be perfect. I’ve heard that Jimmy Akin, from Catholic Answers, is also very good, and recently ordered his new book The Salvation Controversy, which I’m looking forward to reading. Thanks for this post! It has been a long process for us, and currently no real end in sight since we are not completely in agreement. That is very difficult.
I attended RCIA with my older brother when I was his sponsor and even though the instructor always wanted the attendees to ask questions, it was such a shy group that there was never any discussion. I think depending on the make up of the class, it just sometimes doesn’t offer the resources people need and the opportunity to get their questions answered. I think, like you said, meeting with someone who understands the theological background you’re coming from is ideal. I read Jimmy Akin’s blog sometimes, but haven’t read any of his books! Prayers for your journey. It is so difficult to feel “in limbo.”
SaraLynn Goergen says
I hear you!! I am a recent convert (class of 2012) and the RCIA program at my parish was ROUGH. I don’t think it was the materials per se but it was way too basic for me. I found that the class was really designed for people who had very little knowledge of Christianity or the Bible. This was frustrating for me … I wanted to really dig into the differences between Catholics and Protestants but that wasn’t happening. I spoke to the Director of Religious Education at my parish and she suggested I do the Catholicism video series by Father Robert Barron. This was a great start!! My husband who is a cradle Catholic did it with me (not a reader… just like your hubs) and he got SOO much out of it. I would highly recommend it as a starting point. I continued to read and met with the Dir. of Religious Ed. every other week to discuss what I had read until I was ready to come in to the Church. My experience is that with every objection the Church has an answer … and a beautiful one. Good luck on your journey!!
Anne Marlene says
This is exactly what I have been looking for – thank you so much!
I’m so glad, Anne Marlene. You’re welcome 🙂
As a Class of 2009 convert, I cannot agree more with Orthodoxy! I probably read it 10 times before crossing the Tiber. Also, I wholeheartedly agree with keeping your family in the loop. I was in such denial about even being interested in Catholicism that I kept my conversion a secret until a couple of weeks before Easter! I’m still having to work through things with my family, all because I was a wimp in the years leading up to confirmation. While these books aren’t necessarily the reason for my conversion, during the Lent before entry I meditated on Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade and The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila. Both are highly contemplative, which I needed to balance the more intellectual approach I had taken to the Church. Speaking of intellectual, as a lifelong Protestant who had taken copious apologetics and worldview classes throughout my life, it really helped for me to read the history of the early Church. St. Jerome, my patron, especially helped me to see that an authentic Catholic could still be an authentic Christian. Also, the Didache was an eye-opener–historical evidence of that elusive “New Testament Church,” complete with deacon-bouncers and a thoroughly Catholic understanding of the Eucharist. Beautiful! Thanks for the post, Haley!
Reading the mystics and about the early Church is great advice, Anna!
And Anna, I just hopped over to your blog and saw that you’re in Waco! Do we know each other? We lived there for six years until 2010.
We do not know each other, but the world is very small and my family goes to church with the Foleys and with Luke. The Baylor community has, surprisingly, been incredibly supportive and encouraging in our pursuit of growth in Catholicism. Before moving there, I would’ve thought it unlikely that anyone would convert while at a Baptist school, but I can see now that it not only happens, but happens with some regularity.
I am not a convert, but have been wrestling with it for at least a few years, and really in my heart want to be Catholic (there are just a few hurdles left for me to get over, and then there’s the matter of my husband, but I won’t get into all that here!). Anyway, I just wanted to say that I *loved* Rome Sweet Home. I consider myself fairly intellectual, so I can handle some of the heavier reading. But I’m not always up for it. Rome Sweet Home was so relatable and easy to read, and I so appreciated the Hahns’ struggle with having to get past the myths they had believed about Catholicism, and their struggle with the backlash from their Protestant community–something I fear myself. I think it would be a great starting point for someone who is just interested in why a Protestant would choose to convert.
I definitely need to read it! Thanks for the recommendation, April!
Wonderful post! I love this idea and think it would be so helpful to people. I have two points:
1. Read blogs: It isn’t (usually) the place to get super theological stuff, like you would get reading one of the Saints, but it is helpful to read others’ thoughts on certain aspects of the Church, why the Church believes x, how they personally understand and incorporate Church practice into their lives, how they become better mothers/wives/humans because of the Church, etc. I like seeing that personal experience with the Faith.
2. Don’t expect it to be easy. I remember you said, Haley, “Nothing has made us more uncomfortable than the Catholic Church.” The Church will make you uncomfortable as a convert because it wants to refine you, and all of us, to better follow Christ. There will likely be issues that will be hard to get used to because you’re challenged to think about them differently: What’s up with Mary? What’s up with Lent? Why do you do all these prayers? Why should I go to Confession? Is Catholivism really the true Church, and what are the ramifications of that? Welcome the challenge: it is all a beautiful process that will bring you closer to holiness.
I have to second “reading blogs” I met so many good friends by just shooting a blogger an email a faith related question. It helped me greatly to see what the average Catholic does and struggles with!
PS. Class of 2013! Woo!
Ruth Anne says
As a “baby” convert (class of 2013!!) I totally second all things listed here. I’ve read Signs of Life, loved it! Eventually I plan to read some others on the list.
The one thing I would recommend, and this should be a no-brainer, but hind-sight is 20-20, And I didn’t think about it before hand. Super important to keep family in the loop, but even more important, if you’re married to have your spouse on the same page. Even if both of you don’t join the church, having complete spousal support will make things so much better. We weren’t in complete agreement when we started the process, and while we’ve both joined the church and things have been fine, we spent several months in constant conflict over various things. Just not healthy for the marriage.
That is so wise, Ruth Anne. I pray for couples who are struggling because they are in disagreement over conversion. That is so hard!
Excellent post! Many of these books you posted are great resources. During my conversion this year I found Catholicism by Father Barron to be incredibly insightful and reader-friendly. His DVD series of the same title was used every now and then in our RCIA classes to better explain some big ideas as well.
As much as I love reading on my own, I feel that the best opportunity I had during my conversion was listening to the conversion stories of others, learning how their conversion impacted their lives on a day to day basis.
I haven’t read/seen that, but I’ve heard good things! And great point about talking to converts about their experience.
Class of 2009 convert here. 🙂
I loved Orthodoxy, and I second “anything by Peter Kreeft,” particularly “Catholic Christianity” as a good overview of the faith. I found listening to his podcasts to be a major factor in my conversion, too.
And I think the book Elizabeth was thinking of is “Catholicism and Fundamentalism” by Karl Keating. My husband (a cradle Catholic) actually found it helpful in learning about the Fundamentalist viewpoint too, to get a better idea of how to relate.
Yes, that’s it. Thanks!
Rome Sweet Rome is a pretty good read but I love Scott Hahn’s conversion story talk better. You can listen free here: http://www.catholicity.com/cds/hahn.html
And have you read Life Giving Love by Kimberly Hahn? It is one of my favorites!
Oh cool! I’ll have to listen to it! And I haven’t read that but someone (maybe Kaitlin?) was telling me about it. It’s on my list!
KelleyAnnie @ Over the Threshold says
Great post, Haley! I actually kept meaning to ask you about the church fathers’ writings that affected you the most–I thought I remembered you read a lot of Thomas Aquinas? Or was that someone else?
I read Rome Sweet Home nearly in a Sunday afternoon 🙂 I reviewed it here: http://www.over-the-threshold.com/2013/02/review-rome-sweet-home.html
KelleyAnnie @ Over the Threshold says
I forgot to mention that this video, Common Ground, is really good. We watched it in RCIA:
Yes! St. Thomas was a big one for me. I got to take a class on the Summa and it was definitely life-changing. His works are hard for me to tackle outside of a class setting, though! Checking out your review now! 🙂
Class of 2012 here!! I totally suggest reading Evangelical is Not Enough: Worship of God in Liturgy and Sacrament by Thomas Howard. This book is great especially if you come from a non-liturgical denomination. If you were raised Anglican or Lutheran, you may know a lot of what is said already. This was the first book I read and I only read it because I was marrying a Catholic and wanted to understand his faith more. It literally changed my heart. After I read it, I started going to Mass by myself and not telling anyone. Another one is Lamb’s Supper by Scott Hahn. That book made the Mass come to life for me!! I also second the Catholicism video series by Fr. Barron. My husband and I did the series together and that counted for my RCIA program. My other advice for people are are in the process of converting is to NOT BE AFRAID. I know that is easier said then done but I waited almost three years to actually get confirmed because I was afraid. Afraid of what my family would think, afraid that my friends would think I was going to hell, afraid that people would think I just converted for my husband, afraid that I would find something in Catholicism that I couldn’t agree with and suddenly regret it, afraid of confessing my sins to a priest, afraid that everyone would make fun of me for using NFP etc etc. I honestly regret how long it took me to get over my fear and get confirmed. I sat in Mass for nearly three years without receiving Jesus because I was afraid to trust Him. I truly regret that. I know that it is scary and I know that there may be backlash but I promise you it is worth it. The joy of receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist is worth it. I would love to talk to anyone who is on the fence about becoming Catholic but who may be afraid. It helps to have someone who has been there. Part of the struggle for me is that I didn’t have anyone close to me that had crossed the Tiber so I settled for reading blogs and books. That was OK but I would have rather talked to someone personally who had experienced what I was going through.
Isn’t it so hard, sitting in Mass and not being able to go up to receive the Eucharist? But it fills the prayer with deep meaning when we say “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you under my roof, but only say the word and my Soul shall be healed.”
I haven’t refrained from joining the Church out of fear, but rather because my husband is not ready to join with me, and I’m concerned that perhaps I am out of line, stepping out from under him to join on my own. If I am afraid of anything, it is what the result would be for my children, to have their parents attending different churches every week. I’d appreciate hearing any thoughts anyone would care to share regarding this.
Melissa H-K says
Elizabeth, this is really something you need to discuss with your husband.
My husband and I were of two different denominations when we were married—he was Catholic and I was Episcopalian. For a couple of years, we went to two different church services every Sunday. Our first child was even baptized in a concelebration. But we got tired of going to church so much, especially with a baby, and we then started going only to the Catholic church, because we liked it more than the local Episcopalian church. It took me more than ten years to become Catholic, though!
I had the reverse experience that Melissa had. I was Catholic married to a Baptist. We went to both churches until we had children, then just went to the Catholic Church. My husband was invited to RCIA by our parish priest after we had lived in our new state for3 years. He went, did much reading on his own and entered the church that Easter. It was 16 years after we married. I can’t say how important a personal invitation can be. He is now a deacon in the Catholic Church. You never know God’s plans. They are better than you can ever imagine!
SaraLynn Goergen says
I realize that this was posted more than a year ago … how are you doing now? I would suggest talking to your husband first and seeing his take on it. Every marriage is different. I know some very happily married – Christ following couples who go to different churches on Sunday. They are both supportive of each others faith. The majority of the time the kids go with the Catholic parent but not always. For me personally, this wasn’t an option. My husband was willing to go to a Protestant Church with me but then we would go to Mass as well so two church services in a weekend. Would your husband be willing to attend Mass with you as a show of support? This way your children can see you worshiping together… and I think it is OK to talk to them about your faith journey in an age appropriate manner. It is hard to say this without knowing your husband but I want to believe that if he sees you are honestly following Jesus’ call in your life that he would be supportive even if he isn’t ready to join himself. Good luck on your journey and I know that when you do join and are able to receive Jesus in the Eucharist it will be the biggest blessing in your life 🙂
Thank you for sharing all of this, SaraLynn! So much wisdom in your comment.
Kim Chrisman says
Thank you for this Haley. I’ve been doing the “reading the catechism in a year” series but it hasn’t answered a lot of the questions I have and is at times over my head. I will def be getting these books. Btw your newest little angel is absolutely beautiful! All your children are:))
Aw, thank you so much, Kim!
Hi Haley – fantastic book list. I’d like to give you another recommendation – who doesn’t like being introduced to great books!? Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West is on my all-time top books list. It is “a basic introduction to Pope John Paul II’s ‘Sexual Revolution’ “. I would say it is the most important, helpful, and clear book of its kind I have ever read. I love it, love it, love it (and I’m certain you will too)! Enjoy!
Yes! I soooo need to read that. I’ve been looking for an introduction to Theology of the Body and that sounds just like what I need. Thank you!
Haley, I implied in an earlier comment that my husband is not on the same page with my journey towards Catholicism. Out of the blue yesterday, he said, “Oh, so I was listening to the Catholic radio today, and…” and then proceeded to tell me about the program he was listening to, and how he has been listening to it lately and really enjoying some of the programs. This then evolved into a conversation about the Church in general, and its “otherness” in contrast to our frustrations with Protestantism. He has never been anti-Catholic, so this wasn’t a complete shock, but I had to try so hard to hide my excitement at his openness to the Church, and at the possibility that we may make this journey together after all! I know you don’t know me, but I don’t know a single Catholic in real life, and I had to share this with someone!
Melissa H-K says
You know a bunch of Catholics online now that you read Haley’s blog. And I bet 99% of us would be happy to be your friend and help you understand the “otherness” of Catholicism. Especially the converts! We remember how weird Catholicism seemed at first!
Now you know a bunch online 🙂 Let me know if you ever want to chat or have questions. I second @Melissa H-K below… It can seem like traveling to a foreign country. Contact your local parish so you can meet some Catholics in real life! They may also be able to connect you with some recent converts. It is so awesome when you realize you aren’t alone! It is awesome that your husband is open to this journey with you! I’ll pray for you as you go through this journey.
April, that’s so exciting! I completely sympathize with not knowing Catholics IRL. Blogs were about all I had around the time we were converting. Email me anytime if you need to!
Hi! I am also a convert (2007) and am glad I came across your blog! We have a lot in common! I am a farmer’s wife with three children (ages 4, 3, 18 months, and pregnant with number 4 due in September). I will be keeping up with your posts! 🙂
Yay! I love connecting with kindred spirits 🙂 Congrats on Baby #4!
I converted (or more accurately “re-verted) to Catholicism in 2010. I was actually baptized Catholic, but my dad started attending a fundamentalist church when I was about 10, so I grew away from the Catholic faith. My husband converted before I did….and the time when he was Catholic and I as not was a very dark and confusing period. Finally, I got a teaching job at a wonderful Catholic school for girls, which softened my heart towards Catholicism, and some good books answered a lot of questions and distorted teachings I had. “Catholic & Christian” was the first book I picked up…it’s also a great read for Catholics who are unsure about certain teachings! In addition I read “Rome Sweet Home”, a very comforting narrative especially after having had some of the same emotional struggles Kimberley Hahn described, and I also read “Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic” by David Currie, which really helped me understand the stark theological differences (and their implications) between Catholics and Fundamentalists. I was so intrigued and captivated after these reads, I bought several more books that I *ahem* haven’t exactly read yet (did I mention I became pregnant with twins shortly after I converted? Might have something to do with it…). One of those is “Catholicism and Fundamentalism” by Keating, and you can also see debates between Keating and a Protestant representative on YouTube. Keating can come across as a bit too argumentative, but his points are certainly valid. I also have Armstrong’s “A Biblical Defense on Catholicism”. Finally, I would recommend “Rediscover Catholicism” by Kelly. It’s not necessarily a book for converts, but it explains and encourages Catholics from all backgrounds to become re-engaged with the Mass. Sorry for such a long comment, but this sort of thing just fires me up! Ultimately and undeniably it was God’s grace and the work of the Holy Spirit that brought me into the Catholic faith, and I’d say nothing short of a miracle.
I’m loving all these great title suggestions! Thank you, Kim. I love hearing other people’s conversion stories!
Hello Hayley. I went to a priest in February 2013 to ask for Instruction into the Catholic Church, something I had long wanted to do. We sat and had a long chat, and I came out feeling very despondent, you see I am a divorced Anglican, as soon as he heard the word divorce his attitude changed to one of slight hostility. He said as an Anglican he did not recognise my marriage, and I should seek help from God to atone for my divorce.
He asked me if I was in a relationship with another person, I said yes, that we were living together, not as husband and wife, we share separate rooms, as we are both in our 60’s, but enjoy a freindship and companionship without sex. He was appalled and told me that it would be impossible to receive me into the church under those circumstances. I also told him that I am quite ill and my life expectancy is diminishing at a moderate pace, he said that he could give me a deathbed conversion, but that my companion should not be at the house during this time.
My question is this, Are all Priests adopting these measures? and why did I feel like a sinner when I came out of the Presbytery?
I do so want to join the Church, as our dear Lord welcomes sinners who repent ! But should I be repentant for being divorced, and finding a companion?
I’m sorry your experience was so discouraging. Without knowing all the ins and outs of your situation, I don’t feel like I can speak on too much. But I would highly recommend that you meet with a different priest. It sounds like the attitude of the priest you talked with before was part of what deterred you from moving forward. Please meet with another priest about your particular situation in order to find out what your next step is. You will have my prayers!
Thanks Haley I will do and will let you know how I get on !
Maggie Frances P. says
Hey Haley! I hope I am putting this question in the right place and not bugging you too much!
Background: I am a 28 year old mom to 5 little girls and a (recently) former Mormon. My husband and I decided to leave the LDS church and convert to Catholicism some time ago but it has been this long road with false starts and many set backs. He was born into Catholicism and baptized as an infant but that’s it, his parents… left much to be desired. He converted to Mormonism a few years into our marriage (I was Mormon, born and raised). Anyway, I am asking you if you know of any online Catholic convert resources like forums or groups or blog communities. I am having the toughest time! Being raised LDS I am so use to community and trying to convert to Catholicism has been the biggest culture shock ever for me. I am feeling really lost and really alone. I want to convert but it is feeling impossible. We have some limitations on us- my husband works Sundays so we go to Mass every Saturday evening and with all of these kids and his crazy work schedule it’s hard to make it to the extra stuff (though there seems to be hardly any of that). There are hardly any people there on Saturdays and no children for my girls. We had gotten information about RCIA from our old Parish and were all set to attend but then we had to move last minute quite a ways away. My husband has called our local Parish a few times now trying to get information but he keeps getting the run around and his messages aren’t being returned. I’m not upset at them, I hope you don’t think that I am complaining, I’m just *lost*. Mormons guide you (too much, IMO, but that’s a whole other thing) every step of the way and though I wasn’t expecting *that* I was expecting *something*. I was also hoping for community in some way because I am so new to Catholicism I feel like I am the late girl to this huge party where everyone knows each other and won’t even make eye contact with me. I just feel a bit depressed about the whole thing and could really use people to talk to about this so I can learn more about the faith and everything in-between. I have thought about starting a blog about my personal conversion, what I am reading, my thoughts, etc just so I can meet new people by putting myself out there.
This got longer than I intended it to be. I hope it finds you well! Thanks for listening and for your awesome blog.
Melissa H-K says
I would read your blog! And I would comment on it! Because I’m a convert, too, and I know just what you mean! Fortunately, I’m married to a cradle Catholic, so he’s explained a lot of the weird Catholic stuff that I’ve wondered about, but what does one do when one doesn’t have Catholic resources like him?
Start that blog, by golly! And in the meantime, try my daughter’s blog: http://www.piercedhands.com/blog She’s pretty darned cool, and I hope she can answer some of your questions.
And now back to Haley. Sorry if you feel I was butting in, Haley!
Maggie Frances P. says
I love your daughter’s blog! Thanks so much for sharing it with me. I have been reading it today and sharing some of it with my husband. I see that you are a grandma to twins? My twin girls are 4. Such a blessing and such a struggle at the same time.
You have every right to be a proud mama!
Melissa H-K says
So glad that you enjoyed Meg’s blog! And yes, I am a grandma to twins—and to three singletons. They’re in two families. Because you’re a mom of twin girls, you might enjoy these blogs by moms of twin girls: http://www.survivingourblessings.com/ and http://rosie-ablogformymom.blogspot.com/ But those twin girls are two and almost one, respectively. This is another reason you should write a blog—you could be an inspiration to those two moms of twin girls! 😀
Maggie, I’m so sorry that starting RCIA and finding a Catholic community has been made so difficult for you! I felt the same way just after we converted when we moved back to our hometown. I didn’t know any Catholics at all and my husband was working weekends and it was really hard to find a way to get plugged in. Here’s what I ended up doing: I talked to one of the priests at the Church and asked if he could introduce me to some women in my age range so that I could make some Catholic friends. The first woman he introduced me to is now one of my dearest and closest friends. I know it might not work out that way for everyone, but your priest should know who some women who are very involved in thee church are and can introduce you. Also, going to daily Mass might be a good idea (if you can swing it! So hard if you’re working or have little ones!) because often you can meet people who are very dedicated to their parish who can help you get plugged in. I will ask the Carrots FB followers about online convert forums, etc. I think it’s a great idea to start a blog. I was connected with blogging Catholic friends before I found any real live ones 🙂
I feel for you during this difficult time! It’s so hard to feel alone, even if you know you’re doing the right thing. Please feel free to email me at any time: firstname.lastname@example.org
I also have a good friend who converted from Mormonism to Catholicism and I’m sure he would share some thoughts if that would be at all helpful!
Maggie Frances P. says
I wanted to let you know that we started RCIA 2 weeks ago. We’re so excited! We finally found a parish not too far away that is I guess more organized? It’s larger and has a school and is just absolutely gorgeous. Currently we have to alternate my husband one week and me another as we have no sitter for our 5 little ones but we are just so grateful that they are willing to work with us in that.
Thanks so much for you help and encouraging words. I may have to take you up on that email offer some day soon.
I’m so glad! Feel free to email any time!
Maggie, here’s the responses from some of the Carrots readers about your questions: https://www.facebook.com/CarrotsForMichaelmas/posts/598473926861310
Hope it helps and PLEASE feel free to email me anytime.
Maggie Frances P. says
Thanks so much!
I got your replies this morning and have been chewing on the links that were recommended all day. I am going to give starting a blog of my own more thought but until then I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to respond to me! I know how busy you are.
I’ll have to take you up on that email once I have time to process what I am reading. Thanks again!
Amanda Renee says
Thank you so much for sharing your concerns and triumphs with Catholicism.
I have been Protestant my whole life and have been very used to learning new and varied ways of understanding scripture through sermons. I am also an intellectual – I’m currently a Doctoral student – and struggle with what I feel are very reductive and simplistic readings of scripture via homilies when I attend mass with my Catholic husband.
That being said, we are currently considering having children and I have come to realize that my husband desperately wants us to raise our children in the Catholic church. I have begun attending mass with him and am struggling with the exclusive and seeming institutional nature of Catholicism. My research into various parishes has also revealed that many Catholic churches don’t seem to encourage Catholics to engage critically with scripture and truly “work out” their faith through discussion-based working groups like I have attended in various Protestant churches. As another poster mentioned, RCIA classes are commonly lecture-based rather than discussion-based. For me, this has engendered the feeling that Catholicism enforces obedience to an institution while Protestantism fosters critical engagement with scripture.
Have any of you had similar feelings and, if so, did you get past them? How? Thank you! 🙂
Maggie Frances P. says
As you probably noticed from my comments I’m not officially Catholic so do take what I have to say with a grain of salt.
I have a love/hate relationship with how “hands off” Catholicism is. I hate it on the one hand because I feel sort of like I am wandering around on my own trying to navigate this huge cathedral of history, knowledge, and doctrine. But I love that. As I said above I was raised LDS (Mormon) which is a very hands on religion into leading its members. I am not trying to be negative towards the LDS church or churches that function like this but, suffice it to say, it wasn’t for me. It also can be rather restrictive. I understand what you are saying about having a desire to have critical and deep discussions about Catholicism! I have been craving that, too. But Catholicism is a whole different thing than what I believe we were raised in. Though it’s not exactly enforcing or providing a space to do these things in that is not to say you can’t or shouldn’t. There are actually many Catholic resources out there related to the more intellectual side of the faith and the church. I am what I suppose you could term a “layman intellectual”. I crave the sorts of things you are talking about, I really thrive on them. My problem with being LDS and my problem with many Protestant churches was that they are too focused in discussion and very near telling one what to think about things. That didn’t feel liberating to me, it felt confined and strained. With Catholicism I feel like I have been given admittance to the figurative cathedral I referenced earlier and allowed to roam its halls and discover knowledge and wisdom for myself, in my time, on my terms. This, IMO, leads to a more full relationship with God than a more hands on approach where the opinions of others often times hinders our own spiritual and intellectual process by pushing us one way or another and drowning out our own inner voice.
I hope that all made sense! I tend to ramble.
A big mistake I made when first investigating Catholicism was that I assumed it’d be like being Mormon. It’s simply not. I assumed I’d be given all this information and all I had to do was show up. I soon discovered that you really have to work with it in Catholicism. My reaction was “What?!” before I quickly realized how beneficial this would be to me in my growth.
My husband and I have found browsing Catholic blogs to be helpful as well as reading and studying the Bible and the CCC on our own and discussing it. But above all the podcast Catholic Stuff You Should Know has helped us in our journey. I can’t even express how much we love this podcast!
The silence is jarring at first when you are use to a lot of voices around you but the silence can be such a blessing.
To solve the problem of a shy group, I put out a question box and pieces of paper. A person can sneak a question into the box that they might be uncomfortable asking aloud.
I am halfway through your reading list. RCIA classes start up again in a few weeks. I think the event that may tip the scales is my daughter (entering first grade at our Catholic school) announcing that she cannot wait for second grade because she will have her first communion. This opened the door to some meaningful conversation with my Lutheran husband about supporting her walk with God and what our family priorities and lessons are. Pray for us as we contemplate the Lord’s wishes for our family.
Tom Wetty says
Hello Traveling Sister ! Thank you for the great Blog. One thing I have learned is that conversion starts in the mind before the Holy Spirit will start to uncover for you a physical and spiritual path as well. What a great way to share your joy with all people through literature.
I curently help with our Parish’s RCIA and it is an amazing and blessed vocation. I am a “cradle-Catholic”, but I have learned more about our tradition , by assisting our wonderful team in this effort. BTW, Our team does encourage discussions in our sessions, and some times we learn more that we teach. One of the team members is a retired nun. Sister is a certified Spiritual Advisor, Sister Redempta, recommends any book by Mathew Kelly.
I have found reading his books both easy and profound. I agree with Matthew that the Church is in great need for leadership and a simpler vocalization by the Catholics in the pews. We must always remember that it is all of us individuals that are the parts of the Mystical Body of Christ.
While I would not recommend Matthew’s writing for “baby” Catholics, as we grow in faith his words are like fire in the heart. I can say his writings have changed my life and deepened my love for our Lord.
God bless you for writing and maintaining this Blog, may you plant seeds that will grow in good soil. The harvest is always the best part ! I pray for you and your family, and in hope to see you on the other side, in Jesus’ most holy name.
Stephanie S. says
At the time of my conversion, I wasn’t old enough for RCIA. I converted on my own beginning the process in 2013. It was my mom’s fault 🙂
I was raised atheist so I didn’t know much at all, but I was supposed to go to a Catholic high school so my mom bought me “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Catholicism”. No really! The book was great and easy to understand.
I started attending Mass with my grandma and after three months, my priest began instruction with me and I was mentored by him and matched with godparents. Because I was 14, I actually was baptized. Yep, only Catholic that remembers her baptism. I received First Holy Communion an hour later LOL.
I became an altar server, lector and for a short period, a substitute 4th grade CCD teacher even though I was five years older than my students…it was my godmother’s class and she was unable to continue teaching it. Hey even I learned stuff! I was then confirmed at 15 with my class.
I didn’t have a conversion…more like a Catholic elopement 😀 Glad to see some more stories and congrats to all of you!
How would a teenager become a catholic?
A teenager that desires to become Catholic can just contact their local Catholic church. The priest there can help discern whether doing RCIA (a class for adults to teach them about the faith) or meeting with a priest is the best option to prepare someone to be received into the Church and be baptized (if unbaptized), receive first Holy Communion, and be confirmed.
Let me know if you have any other questions, I’m happy to help 🙂 You can always email me, too at email@example.com
Hilary Cable says
Thank you so much for this list! I am in RCIA classes now and doing lot of praying about conversion. I would be leaving the Episcopal church.
Thank you for this post! I think I’m about to take the first steps to become a catholic. This is hard for me, growing up in a non-religious home and surrounded by non-religious friends. And most of all; my husband is a convinced atheist. We also have two kids. And although it feel’s hard, it also seems impossible to avoid it. I have no experience in praying, but I’m doing my best. Wish me luck!
Thank you for this post! I am hoping to start RCIA soon and this and some of your other posts have been very helpful. Do you have any recommendations of other bloggers who are also converts?
I really enjoy your blog! I am a southern mom in Alabama, so it connects with me a great deal. We (husband and three kids) are former Protestants starting RCIA classes next week. However, it is difficult in the South to tell friends about conversion without a lot of negativity. Do you have any tips for telling our Protestant friends?