So, You’re Thinking of Converting to Catholicism…

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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.

Pray

Cover your spiritual journey in prayer. Pray that God will guide you. Pray the Rosary. Pray before the Blessed Sacrament. Pray, pray, pray.

Read Up

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. AnselmConfessions 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.

Are you a convert? What would you recommend to those who are interested in learning more about the Catholic faith?
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Comments

  1. says

    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!

  2. Jean says

    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.

  3. says

    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.

    • Haley says

      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.

      • says

        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!

  4. 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!

      • 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. :-)

  5. says

    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.

  6. says

    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.

    • Haley says

      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.”

  7. says

    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!

    • Haley says

      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.

      • says

        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.

  8. April says

    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.

  9. says

    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.

    • says

      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!

  10. 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.

    • Haley says

      That is so wise, Ruth Anne. I pray for couples who are struggling because they are in disagreement over conversion. That is so hard!

  11. says

    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.

    • Haley says

      I haven’t read/seen that, but I’ve heard good things! And great point about talking to converts about their experience.

  12. Emily says

    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.

    • Haley says

      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!

  13. SaraLynn says

    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.

    • says

      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!

  14. 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:))

    Kim Chrisman

  15. Emily says

    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!

    • Haley says

      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!

  16. April says

    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!

    • SaraLynn says

      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.

    • Haley says

      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!

  17. says

    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! :)

  18. says

    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.

    • Haley says

      I’m loving all these great title suggestions! Thank you, Kim. I love hearing other people’s conversion stories!

  19. Margaret says

    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?

    • Haley says

      Hi Margaret,
      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!

  20. 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.

    -Maggie

    • 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!

        Maggie

    • Haley says

      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: haley.s.stewart@gmail.com

      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

        Haley,

        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.

      • 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!

        -Maggie

  21. Amanda Renee says

    Hi Ladies,

    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

      Hi, Amanda!

      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.

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