This season of the Church that we are now in, is so beautiful — entering into the Passion of our Lord with Him, what a gift! I love Easter, and I especially love the Easter vigil because I myself converted to Catholicism 6 and half years ago, so this is a time to really remember and renew my commitment to the Lord and His truth through the Catholic Church. That being said, I want to share my conversion story because I love sharing it, and this weekend reminds me of it!
As a freshman in high school one of my best friends Jaime invited to me go on this mission trip she was going on with her church. I asked my parents if I could go and they said yes. It was a good trip. I just kinda fumbled through things a lot. It was my first time ever doing anything with the Catholic Church so I felt pretty lost, but the people were really nice. And it was the first step of my journey. I also met a boy I liked there, but that comes later. I definitely encountered God through serving people that weekend, though I didn’t see it that light at that time. It just felt good to serve people and to see people who had literally nothing be so filled with joy.
After we returned to Columbus and got back into the hum-drum of life I kept thinking about that trip and really wanted to go again my sophomore year. So when the time rolled around Jaime and I went to the info session and I saw many of these people who I hadn’t seen for almost a year. The boy was that info session night (his name is Tim) and he told me he was planning on going on the mission trip again. I was really excited. I remember when I saw him for the first time in almost a year. I described as feeling like fireworks were going off around me talking to him. So we get to the church on the day we’re leaving for Kentucky (where our mission trip took place) and Tim wasn’t there. I was so upset, to the point where I wished I wasn’t going anymore, but it was too late. We were already loaded in the vehicles. Clearly I was a sophomore in high school …oh the teen years. Anyway, Tim’s dad drives him down the next day (they had some family thing or something where he couldn’t leave with the rest of the group). Anyway, once he got there I was pretty excited. We hit it off even more and this year we exchanged contact information before we went home after the trip. We actually rode home in the same car together. Oh, and it was a good mission trip again, a little more eye-opening because I had been exposed to most of the Catholic stuff the previous year… and knew more people that year.
Anyway, a couple days after Christmas Tim and I officially started dating. My first ever real boyfriend! Tim came from a large Catholic family. He was the oldest of 6 (at the time). He went to mass with his family every weekend. We didn’t go to the same high school. So it eventually came down to if I wanted to see my boyfriend I had to start going to mass with his family because that’s when I was able to see him. Through the month of January I would always come up with reasons why I couldn’t go to church with his family, but come Valentine’s Day I wanted to be able to see my boyfriend for Valentine’s Day. And that was the first Sunday I started going to mass every weekend.
Tim and I talked on the phone most every night and I would complain about my day and he would always encourage me to turn to God and to pray. So after being told by him to do this enough times, that’s what I started doing. Soon enough, I found myself emailing the youth minister who had taken us crazy high school kids to Kentucky for a mission trip. I emailed Dan (youth minister), telling him that I thought God was missing from my life and I wanted to have God in my life more but didn’t know how to make that happen. Dan told me that I needed to become Catholic (with a few more words than that). Then I asked him how I go about that. He explained and shortly after I started RCIA.
Important things to note – I was 15, I was dating a Catholic boy who had really been encouraging me and teaching me about the Church, and I was the only one in my family becoming Catholic. It was also March when I started RCIA. Dan had talked with pastor of the parish at the time about me and they decided it would be best to treat me as one would an infants baptism because of the factors listed above.
That being said, I started going through the RCIA book with my best friend’s mom. Each week we met and did a lesson and then Tuesday night Jaime (best friend) and I went to youth group after, and Tim was usually with us too. Tim and I got more and more serious in our dating (which looking back now it seems ridiculous but it is what it is) However, we ended up breaking up in July and I was set to receive the sacrament September 27, 2009. In the months following our break up and leading up to my entrance into the Church I did a lot of evaluating and questioning – wanting to make sure I was doing this for me, not for Tim. I decided it was for me and proceeded with receiving the sacraments.
I received the baptism, confirmation and first communion on September 27, 2009 at the noon mass at St Patrick Church in Columbus, OH. Afterwards I walked around asking people if they wanted holy hugs (which if you know me this isn’t surprising). After Tim and I broke up I fell into a pretty severe depression. I didn’t get out of bed or eat really for the rest of the summer (all of July and August). When school and youth group started back up I started doing better but struggled for a long time. I started running after the Lord as a sophomore in high school, and I haven’t really looked back.
There’s a lot more to my story of where I am now. But when I look back on this particular part I laugh because I basically stumbled into the Catholic Church and quickly learned to call it home. Thanks be to God for His grace and mercy and the sacraments. Maybe there will be future posts on other different key points in my life – it’s always good to look back and see what good work the Lord has done and be reminded that I have come so far yet the Lord is not done with me yet!
I hope each of you have a blessed Triduum and Easter season! May we continue to run after the Lord with all that we are! And here are some pictures from my baptism