Conversion Story

As a native of French Quebec, I arrived in the United States in March of 1998. There’s been since then lots of water under the bridge. Some rough, some calm and although I didn’t always realize it, it was always flowing in the same direction. Flowing towards a life of greater holiness, a life more in line with God’s plan for me.

I was raised in a home where speaking of God was sort of taboo. My mom had been a cradle Catholic but renounced her faith when she married my dad who was Protestant. We didn’t go to church but my dad’s mom held some kind of religious service in Italian in her basement to which she was the “pastor”.

We never really spoke about religion. My mom knew all her Catholic prayers but her faith was weak. Before long my grand mother had convinced her that her Catholic religion was wrong. Sadly in many ways we were raised anti-Catholic. I never really thought about it. There were Protestants & there were Catholics & the Catholics were wrong. Pure & simple!

We didn’t know anyone that went to church – not even any of my mom’s 8 siblings! However, all my cousins were raised in the faith and had First Communions & Confirmations. I didn’t have a clue what that was and I don’t remember that any of my cousins were really able to explain it to me. But I remember feeling that I was missing out on this big time! They got to wear a mini wedding dress with white gloves.. not to mention the party & the gifts!

When I met Scott, he made it clear to me that he didn’t care which religion we belonged to – the important thing was that we would worship together. I thought that was alright – so long as it wasn’t Catholic!

While in Florida we attended a non-denominational church that I loved! However when we moved to Texas late 1998, we could not find a church that we felt comfortable in. We “church hopped” for over a year! Then one Sunday Scott suggested that we attend Mass at the local Catholic church which was less than 5 minutes away.

I think it’s important to note that although Scott wasn’t a confirmed Catholic, he’d been “practicing” the faith for over 20 years. He realized after spending a year away from the Church that he really missed Mass! My heart wasn’t into it but I love my husband dearly so I gave in! Okay, lets give it a shot!

We made our way to Saint Anthony’s Church in Wylie, our home town. It was a beautiful new church. On it’s property stood the original wooden church, built back in 1916! We immediately felt compelled to enter… unbeknown to either of us, it was the year of the Great Jubilee – a Catholic event that happens only every 25 years!

…To start the celebration of the Jubilee year, the holy door in St. Peter’s Basilica is open with the words of the Holy Father taken from [Psalm 118:20] “This is the gate of the Lord”.This gate is a symbol of Jesus who says “I am the gate, whoever enters through me will be saved, he will go in and out and find pasture” [John 10:9].The holy door will be closed again at the end of the Jubilee year on 6 January 2001 on the Feast of the Epiphany.The meaning of the opening of this door is the invitation to every heart to answer Christ who is standing at the door knocking [Revelation 3:20].

To this day I can remember exactly how I felt as I walked through the front doors! It was like something warmed my chest & I felt heat radiate out of me! It almost felt like I was lifted a few inches off the floor! I immediately knew in my heart that I was home & this is where my faith journey was to begin…

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Paula Gonzales Rohrbacher May 25, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Thanks so much for the link to Conversion Diary on our New Jerusalem Workshop facebook page! What a wonderful blog! I am looking forward to reading your blog as well! Charles was ordained five years ago, and it has been a wonderful, challenging, blessed journey.

You can keep up with our life at http://homeindouglas.blogspot.com/ which is my blog!

God bless you in your journey to the deacon community!

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Christine May 27, 2011 at 11:54 am

Paula, that what blogger friends are for!

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Mary Gutman January 25, 2012 at 9:58 am

This is a great web site, Christine. My husband is in Formation, ordination is April, 2013. Of course, we are still listening to His voice as we both go through this process. Wives can attend weekends of Formation, and I do (6 of 30 wives attend). You are correct, Formation is hard but it is very life changing and heart changing. I have a new awareness that I did not have prior to 2010. I will recommend your site to our wives group. I think we all need support and prayers. Keeping you in our prayers,Mary.

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Christine January 25, 2012 at 10:31 am

Wow! Only a little more than a year to go! Yay for you two!

I have only begun to realize how much richer our life in Christ will be as we move forward together on this wonderful journey. My husband has always been my hero but I have to say that as we progress on this path together, I see him more & more “Christ like”. Our love for each other is growing and our lives are so much more satisfying. I suppose I must be changing (for the better I hope!), too and I’m very satisfied with where I am today.

Sadly I missed the first retreat with the wives but I’ll definitely be there for the next – it’s so important that as women we gather and share our journeys.

Thank you for writing & if you’d like to contribute excerpts of your journey, please let me know & be happy to post your contribution. It would be so interesting to know how women in the other parts of the country are invited to participate in their husband’s calling.

God bless you both!

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Mary Gutman May 22, 2012 at 8:49 am

I am back after two years of formation, with less than a year to go now! The journey continues to be exciting and formidable all at the same time. As we get closer to ordination we are praying with more fervor and growing closer together. This past weekend three of our wives made a Cursillo and at the Closing Mass I could not help to think how blessed we all are to share this deep Catholic faith with others. Our husbands have grown closer as a class of candidates- it is miraculous to watch. Keep us in your prayers, as we continue to pray for you.

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Christine July 31, 2012 at 8:13 am

Dear Mary, I’m so sorry for not having replied sooner. For some reason, I’ve not been getting notifications of messages.

I gather from your message that in your diocese, the wives are actively involved in the formation – not so here. We are simply required to support them & attend a once a month gathering.

You’re right about being blessed in sharing this beautiful & deep Catholic faith – more than we deserve, for sure.

We pray for all aspirants & thank you for keeping us in yours!

God Bless,

Christine

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Mary April 29, 2013 at 10:42 am

Christine, well it happened on Saturday- the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has 20 new permanent deacons and my husband is now Deacon Ralph. What a joyous weekend. I will continue to keep you and your husband in my prayers. Keep persevering and trusting in His will for you. God Bless You. Mary

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Christine May 1, 2013 at 3:51 pm

That’s awesome news! Thank you for keeping me posted! Mary, I would love it if you’d write your experience about this day & I would post it on my blog as your contribution. I’m dying to know (as I’m sure many other aspirant’s wives), what was going through your mind and your heart as your husband was being ordained. Please consider doing so!

Thank you for your prayers & God bless you and Deacon Ralph!
Christine

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Mary May 1, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Saturday, April 27, 2013 was an unbelievable day for me as the wife of a newly ordained permanent deacon. Our journey began in 2005 when my husband, a very quiet introverted electrical engineer, came back from living his Cursillo weekend and told me that he thought God wanted something more from him. I really thought he was just having that mountain top experience that one has after making such an intense weekend. But his call never left him and after two years of Lay Pastoral Ministry and three years of Formation, this glorious day came. It was never ever easy for him or for me. He often says that his Formation was more difficult than completing two advanced degrees in engineering. He was nervous at public speaking and had lots of trouble writing all his papers and memorizing facts for tests. But the Holy Spirit was there for him every step of the way. I attended classes with him- 45 weekends over three years, which meant we missed lots of family activities and weddings, etc. Someone in our class figured out that we put on over 7,000 miles in traveling from our house to the seminary on those formation weekends. We also had a lot of discerning during this time. It was never what I call a “slam dunk” once he was in the program- no guarantee of ordination. Then came his canonical retreat this Spring and a peace came over him like I have never seen before. I knew then that this is what God wanted for him so writing my letter to the Archbishop came a lot easier than I had thought. Ordination day was filled with so many tears before Mass began. Every time I saw family members or other wives, I cried but as the music started and the procession began the tears went away and I was totally in the moment. I felt the Holy Spirit and when my husband laid down and the Litany was sung, my soul just sang. He later told me that a feeling of heat went over his back as he lay on the ground- like a healing heat. This week is like being on a honeymoon with God- so many persons have sent gifts and messages and we also received a spiritual bouquet from our friends in Cursillo with offerings of Masses, rosaries, adoration and more. All I can say is keep trusting in God’s will as you go through formation with your husband. I know we will have challenges but I also know that He will be with my husband and me all along this new journey. God Bless You, Mary G., the new deacon’s wife

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