Thinking about it, this story is a hard one for me to tell because I have to acknowledge many of my own personal faults from my past. I can honestly say, growing up Seventh-Day Adventist, I never would have imagined converting to the Catholic faith. The thought just never crossed my mind. Faith has always been an important part of my life. Growing up, my father was a deacon in the church, I attended the church school, and I was there every Friday evening for vespers and Saturday morning for church. I was volunteered to teach VBS and Sabbath school on and off in high school. It wasn’t until my teenage years I began to feel very stagnant in my faith. This is something I would wrestle with for years.
My early interactions with the Catholic Church were limited. Looking back, I can only remember visiting Sacred Heart about five times prior to converting. I attended Midnight Mass on occasion in high school with one of my friends, but other than that, I had limited contact with the Catholic faith. I guess my actual journey didn’t begin until I met my husband. I first met my husband a few days after my 17th birthday. It was my last semester of my junior year in high school. I remember not wanting to be in Sociology, but somehow my friend, Greg, managed to convince me to take the class with him. That morning I walked into the classroom and sat behind Greg. It was a cold morning and me being the not morning person that I am put my head down on my desk with the intention of keeping it there until class started, but apparently God had another plan. It was just us sitting in the room and all of a sudden I hear Greg greeting someone. I lift my head up for a second and see this dorky looking guy walking in with his black cross shoulder book bag, ACDC t-shirt, and jeans. I still remember the first thing he said to me, well, at me. He leaned over to Greg and said, “Is she always this quite?” And I responded,”No, I’m just really tired.” It took a few more interactions with him before Kurtis and I actually became friends.
My husband always flirted with the idea of joining the Catholic faith. A few months after we started dating, Kurtis began going to go to church with me on Saturdays, and after about a year, he converted to the Adventist faith. I was ecstatic at the time, but that was short lived. Everything changed in the summer of 2010. My father passed away and Kurtis was preparing to leave for Emory. I had a very difficult time handling my father’s death and dealing with Kurtis leaving for Atlanta. It just felt like I was loosing everything. I remember wrestling with the feelings of just wanting time to stop, but understanding that that just wasn’t possible. Letting memories from the past flow and just learning to move on was an extremely difficult lesson for me to learn. Soon after Kurtis left for Emory we fought constantly and our disagreements regarding faith was front and center.
When Kurtis arrived in Atlanta, he began meeting with the campus priest at Emory and slowly began diving back into Catholicism. At the time I just could not fathom why he would ever want to convert to the Catholic faith. After a year of fighting a decision was made. He asked that I either join him in at least learning more about Catholicism or we were just going to call our relationship quits and both just move on. Learning to let go of the past and just diving into the unknown was where my faith journey began. I was actually starting to become more active in my faith again and my joy was slowly returning. It was the first time in years when I didn’t feel spiritually stuck behind a wall. It’s been a freeing experience in so many different ways.
In August 2011, I moved up to Atlanta to finish school at Oglethorpe University. This is when I really began to get active in the Catholic faith. It was during my time at OU Kurtis and I started RCIA at Our Lady of the Assumption. I first heard of OLA during the university club fair. At the activities fair I ran into the OLA Youth Minister, Anne. Looking back, I never realized how much of a blessing it was to run into her that day. I never knew that same youth minister would be my sponsor at my confirmation, play such a huge role in solidifying my decision in joining the Catholic faith, and even get me involved in youth ministry. This is just scratching the surface. Words truly cannot describe how much I’ve grown to love her.
Halfway through RCIA I was really on the fence about joining the Church. It wasn’t until Anne took me on a retreat to a Benedictine monastery that solidified my decision. It was amazing getting to talk with the monks about faith and seeing their faith in action. Saint Bernard Abbey still holds a special place in my heart. Being an oblate, its nice knowing that I can always talk to my ‘big’ brothers about anything. They’re pretty awesome role models to have.
Well, Easter Sunday came and the rest is history! I’ve learned a lot the past few years. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that joy is never truly lost. It just takes many different forms throughout our lives. Joy is like a star, at times it may seem like a shadow of a distant memory, but that isn’t always the case. I like to think of joy to be always constant, but ever changing. You just have to find time to look for it. My conversion isn’t a miraculous tale of encountering angels, great miracles of healing, or any other vision from Heaven. It’s a story about encountering God in the ordinary.