Tania MarcicAs a child, I grew up Seventh-day Adventist (SDA). Much of my spiritual direction came through my grandmother, who was my caretaker, while both my parents worked full-time. She had a very no-nonsense attitude when it came to religion and made sure my brother and I acknowledged Jesus in everything. Before every meal, there was prayer. Before we drove anywhere, there was prayer. Before bed, there was prayer. Morning and evening, we would have Bible-based devotions. Sabbath-keeping is central to SDA theology and practice; therefore, we would start observing the Sabbath at sunset on Friday and it would last until Saturday at sunset. The 24-hour observance involved vespers on Friday evening, Sabbath School on Saturday morning (for both children and adults), followed by Sabbath services, potluck fellowship meal, and vespers again in the evening to close out the Sabbath.

Growing up Seventh-day Adventist was different; none of my friends at my public school were SDA. Aside from missing Saturday morning cartoons (this was before the advent of cable and 24 hour cartoons on demand), we had to live with many “rules.” We didn’t use caffeine. We were largely vegetarian. We did not smoke, drink, use drugs, dance, or wear jewelry (I still do not have my ears pierced). It was promoted that your body was a temple of God, and that you should treat it as such. I did not necessarily mind being different — I loved Jesus, and the SDA church sincerely loved Jesus, so I went along with much of this without any protest. 

I remember once that my father brought home a St. Christopher medal for me and I happily wore it. Even though I wasn’t allowed jewelry, I still liked it anyway. My grandmother took one look at the medal, ripped it off, and declared it as satanic — that was the end of any more jewelry. Many SDA, especially “old-school” SDA, are vehemently anti-Catholic. The main objection focuses on the perception that Catholics worship graven images, which is denounced by Moses through the Ten Commandments. To an SDA, all the saints, statues, medals, candles, incense, etc. look like worshipping something other than God. Since the Sabbath is a sign of the Creator and points to God’s ownership and authority, according to SDA teachings, worshiping on Sunday, rather than the traditional Jewish Sabbath, is perceived as worshipping someone other than God. I questioned many of these things as a child, but whatever answer my mother and grandmother gave seemed to make sense. On my mother’s side of the family, my grandfather was an SDA minister, and my grandmother was a preacher’s wife — always helping him, always evangelizing to anyone who would hear, and always keeping Jesus as part of daily life. I had a very devout family.

Adulthood in SDA

As I grew up, my grandmother moved away and our devotions began to dwindle. My father, who at one point had been devout, had left the faith before I was born, and my brother eventually followed suit. My mother was insistent that success in the world was vitally important; school and after-school activities became more important than anything related to God. We made it to church every now and again, but with soccer tournaments, school functions, and the like, it was growing difficult. When we did go to church, without my grandmother, it was just my mother and me (my mother did not push either my dad or brother to join us). 

I, however, loved going. In the SDA church, you do not get baptized until you are “of-age” and able to make the decision for yourself. Baptism is by immersion, and I was baptized two days before my 18th birthday. I had completed a baptismal course ahead of time offered by the youth pastor, and asked him difficult questions, such as what the Bible states about pre-marital sex and abortion. He fumbled the answer, but stated that he was not aware of anything in the Bible specifically against either pre-marital sex or abortion. I had asked my mother these questions and got the same answers. As a teenager, I was kind of happy to hear these answers, because they gave me license to have pre-marital sex. On another level, however, I remember being deeply disappointed and confused, because, in all my years of study and of going to church, these answers just seemed blatantly wrong.

“Mr. Catholic”

Soon after, I went off to college. At first, I attended SDA church services regularly, however, it grew difficult since the church was not close, I didn’t have a car, and school and my social life were pressing on my time. Around this time, I started dating a nominally Catholic man. I started to live a less-than-holy life. I drank, spent plenty of time with my boyfriend, and the like. 

After graduation, I moved to NYC and married my boyfriend. It’s amazing how life events like marriage and children draw out hidden religious feelings. My nominally Catholic boyfriend all of a sudden had some opinions about religion: he thought we should have a Catholic wedding! This was the guy who only attended Mass for weddings, Confirmations, First Communions, Christmas, and Easter — maybe. 

Well, I went off! This guy all of a sudden, becomes “Mr. Catholic.” I found this to be offensive and hypocritical. Ultimately, we were married in the SDA Church by my SDA minister grandfather, with a Catholic-priest-for-hire administering Catholic portions of the marriage ceremony. I look back on that day, and am shocked that my grandfather married us. An SDA minister will not marry an SDA to a non-SDA, as it is seen as being “unequally yoked.” It must have been Providence. After marriage, I continued to intermittently attend SDA services — always alone.

What to do about “the kids”?

Three years later, we had our first child. In the SDA Church, there is no infant Baptism. We do a dedication ceremony, much like when Mary presented Jesus in the Temple. However, my husband and his mother were insistent on Baptism, as well. Again, I found this to be offensive and hypocritical, because I never saw my husband or his family praying, attending Mass regularly, or doing anything outwardly Christian. I relented, and only because I told myself that our children could “re-do” Baptism later on in the “proper” SDA way. 

I had three children in a row, and I was in the regular habit of taking all of them to Sabbath School and services. My mother would also come with me every week. My in-laws lived further away, and were not part of our religious services. Then came the day when my oldest was three, after attending a service for one of my in-laws (perhaps a First Communion), when she asked me, “How come we go to daddy’s church, and how come we go to your church? Why are there two churches?” Indeed. I did not have an answer. 

Shortly afterwards, I sat my husband down and asked him, “How Catholic do you want these kids to be?” He gave me a fumbling answer something along the lines of “I want our kids to do all the ‘things’ I had to do.” Later on, I understood that he wanted the kids to go through all the Sacraments of Initiation into the Catholic Church. We were registered to a parish through my husband in order for the children to be baptized and it stated very clearly on the bulletin that if you wanted to know more about the Catholic Church all you had to do was call the number for RCIA. Since my husband wanted me to be in charge of the religious education in the house, I decided to call the parish and find out what it means to be Catholic. I had delayed doing all of this for a time, but one morning I woke up, was getting ready for work, and a thought in my head was screaming at me that I needed to find out what Catholicism was all about before I did any more religious education for the kids. This was a thought that could not be ignored. I called the number listed on the bulletin and left a message. The sister in charge of RCIA called me that afternoon and insisted on meeting that night. When we met, she handed me my RCIA folder and told me that meetings were every Tuesday. Talk about an “organized religion!”

But this was just supposed to be for the kids!

For weeks, I was feeling as if I had made a huge mistake. I was not trying to convert to Catholicism, only learn about it. Let me be clear: all this was for the kids’ sake, not mine — I knew my Christianity! How did I get myself into this? 

I began attending RCIA and, once I started learning about the Catholic Church, exploring the history and teachings, I realized that so much of what I had been taught as a kid was skewed. How could 1.2 billion Catholics all be damned? What kind of God would do that? How could a 150-year-old small sect of Christianity have more truth than 2,000 years of rich tradition, scholarship, and history? I knew I was going to have to join the Catholic Church — and I knew it was going to hurt.

I would have to break my mother and grandmother’s heart by rejecting their tradition and faith for what looked like on the surface was for the benefit of my nominally Catholic spouse. I was going to have to go to Confession for the first time after living more than 30 years of life! Originally, I did not think this was a good idea; I had already taken all these things to God. I was sick with stress over having to bring up the past, which I thought was already forgiven. I was wrong! Confession was the best thing that ever happened to me. Healing truly does happen in that confessional, and the priest I had was truly acting as “another Christ” in that Sacrament. For the Protestants out there who might be reading this: don’t knock Confession until you’ve tried it!

The Eucharist made us one

If I could point to the one thing that really “made” me accept the Catholic Church, it would have to be the Eucharist. I had been in Catholic churches as a kid and adult, and had always been offended that I could not take “the bread” at Communion time. After all, I was plenty religious. In fact, I thought myself more religious than any of the Catholics I knew (I would also submit this as an exhortation to Catholics everywhere to respond to the call of holiness; non-Catholics are watching all the time, and are not necessarily impressed by what they see). This became a real lesson on pride for me. It was a lot like being a Pharisee that knew all the laws, but didn’t notice the Lamb when He was right in front of them. 

The Eucharist has the power to unite, though. After being confirmed and receiving my first Eucharist the Easter service of 2006, there was no more “daddy’s church and mommy’s church.” We were a part of one church in our home, united into the one Church instituted by Jesus. 

Growing in the Faith every day

I think it is important for me to also note that I did not necessarily fully understand everything that the Catholic Church taught prior to my conversion. The honor given to Mary was a big hurdle. I had no concept of venerating Mary prior to being Catholic, and it took a while for me to get it. In 2013, I made my consecration to Jesus through Mary and am delighted to continually discover that Mary does not stand in the way of her Son, Jesus, but only brings you closer to Him. 

Also, at first I did not like being called a “convert.” That seemed to imply that I was not a Christian before being Catholic, or that, once I went through all the Sacraments of Initiation, I was “done.” I would implore Catholics and non-Catholics alike to remember that we are all on our journey and need to continuously “convert.” I think the Catholic Church needs to do a better job emphasizing “continuing education” for its adults. The Protestant denominations often do a much better job of this, with regular Bible study groups for adults. I have found the Institute of Catholic Culture and the New Evangelization as important avenues of continuing Faith formation. 

God meets us where we are, and make a path that brings us closer to Him. I will always be indebted to my devout SDA grandmother and nominally Catholic husband, both of whom God used to pour out upon me abundant grace and mercy along the way.

Tania S. Marcic grew up in the Washington, DC suburbs with her parents, brother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and aunt.  After graduating high school, she went on to college at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she met her future husband, David.  She graduated in 1996, and then graduated Albany Medical College in 1998.  She trained for ophthalmology in NYC for the next 4 years, and married her husband in 1999.  In 2002, after the birth of her first child, Adelle, she moved back home to the DC suburbs.  She and her husband then welcomed the birth of two more children, Anthony and Ivan.  After this, she was received into the Catholic Faith at Easter 2006.  The family subsequently moved to the Baltimore suburbs and have since welcomed two more children, Tatiana and Peter.  The family spends its time with both parents working full-time, children in school and activities, and regular participation in parish life.

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  • dario

    Thanks for sharing your journey story to His Church.One of my best friends is a former SDA.He does attend Mass w/o objection…….BTW, i know that wearing jewelry is against SDA’ teaching.However,Ive seen their members who owns luxury vehicles and wear designer clothes,accessories .I find this hypocritical.In fact just this year,I accidentally encounterted a travelling group of SDA Minister ,his wife,who was his secretary ,and a missionary teen.The former told me, that they travel all over the world and write off their expenses,including souvenirs ,as religious related expenses,when filing income tax.He even confided to me that each of them drive luxury vehicles.I noticed that they have expensive cameras,phone etc.I just couldnt believed what he told me about exotic places they’ve been to.He was so materialistic that he even inquired a tourist on how much his DSLR camera cost.I truly believed he was a wolf in sheep clothing! Anyway,welcome home!

    • Pinkydonnae

      How does this relate to the article? Why not start with the pope that you people worship? Molestation is on the top of their list…

      How about God created man and woman to be together but they choose not to procreate but they can rape young boys….

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    Wonderful story. I find holding a Saturday Sabbath very intriguing. But welcome to our faith. It’s fantastic to have someone as devout in our midst.

  • JoyInTheLord

    Welcome home, Tania! We thank God for His Mercy.

  • Pinkydonnae

    Everybody has their own right to religion but this is a big BULL. Even the Pope himself said the seventh play is the Sabbath. You still haven’t fully understand the Catholic Church my dear. Search a little deeper. They let you see only what they want you to. Why do you think Catholic send there priest in our(SDA) schools to preach false doctrines? I could go on and on but I will stop here. I hope you find your way back.

    • Hugh Beaumont

      The Catholic Church is the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ. There is no other; there is no other way. You’ve been told.

    • KastiKanubii

      The Catholic Church is not a secret society.

    • Dominic Duplessis

      The POPE, has never denied the fact that Saturday is the Seventh Day. In order to distinguish itself from the Jews of the time the pope made the day of worship SUNDAY for Catholics. Not protestants who simply stole it and now try to justify it biblically. The SDA church must make up its mind if it is still living under the LAW or in Faith and Grace. YOU CANT HAVE IT BOTH WAYS.

      I do not belong to any church for the reason of the so called LAWS but according to the blessing get from GOD in that community. All I have received from the SDA church over the last 54 years is rules, opinions, laws and slagging of all other christians in the world. That is NOT what I need, want and get from MY GOD.

  • Michael, the NON Catholic

    i believe that your experience with confession was an important in your life and i believe that if we confess our sins to each other there is healing happened. it is really needed in also our chruches.

    i am a sda and was before catholic. i know why i am a sda. sda means not to be against the catholic church or keeping the sabbath and having a lot of rules. Did you ever studied the catechism – i guess because you said that you studied somehow the teachings. But i really would encourage you to study the following books – which is from the Catholic Church and contains still the teachings what the Catholic Church is still teaching today. :

    1.) The Teaching of the Catholic Church as Contained in Her Documents > http://www.amazon.com/Teaching-Catholic-Church-Contained-Documents/dp/B0031EW9CY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419386130&sr=1-1&keywords=The+teaching+of+the+Catholic+Church+as+contained+in+her+documents

    2.) Enchiridion Symbolorum: Compendium of Creeds, Definitions, and Declarations on Matters of Faith and Morals by Heinrich Denzinger (http://www.amazon.com/Enchiridion-Symbolorum-Compendium-Definitions-Declarations/dp/B00IJ0BCHI/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419386686&sr=1-6&keywords=denzinger)

    3.) The Sources Of Catholic Dogma: https://archive.org/details/TheSourcesOfCatholicDogma

  • Hugh Beaumont

    Thank you for your testimony. I have to say though, that I do not think Catholics are as misinformed about Protestants as Protestants are about Catholics. It’s almost as if a Protestant would try anything before trying Catholicism. In fact, it’s probably the only thing that every last denomination would agree upon. How is that accomplished so (apparently) easily?

  • Oliver

    Sounds alot like a rigged testimony. Appearently never really understood the pillars of the Advent faith. A copy of the Great Controversy would have been sufficient. Never too late though. Jesus will come soon.

    • OnlyOne001

      The Coming Home Network “rigs” nothing. They don’t have to. These people have authentic experiences, and they write their own stories and voluntarily offer those experiences to be published as a public service. People on the other side may not believe their stories. But since the year 2002, I have been dealing first hand with inquirers and converts from every belief and ideology imaginable — including SDA and including clergy — and I can tell you that these are not fakes, but the work of God.

  • Diana

    God called us and many of my family from the Catholic church to Adventism each individually simple by studying the bible and following the bible as we Got to know Jesus. I encourage every catholic to study with an Adventist and go through the whole series. As a history major the beliefes are accurate to bible, history and original Hebrew an Greek language. Jesus is so real and I love following the original and try 10 commandments but even more so I found true salvation in Jesus Christ by His Grace not needing a ‘priest’ but just knowing Jesus one on I was my High priest. I really encourage you no matter what you believe to study with an Adventist in depth. Study for your self you must test all beliefes to the bible and not just think based on feeling and tradition. I know you will be as blessed as I am. Most of my family went in the disprove the SDA people but realized Jesus was speaking to them through His word. Have a wonderful day! If you have the truth you can study with anyone and not be shaken. Just like this nice lady it wasn’t really her own beliefs as a child and she didn’t investigate it. I have been eased to see 1000s of Catholics join Jesus in the SDA church. Much love friends

    • Walter Lotilla

      Which came first, the bible or the church ?. Who compiled the first bible ?… which bible version is faithful to the original compilation ?

      • KastiKanubii

        Walter Lotilla wrote: >>Which came first, the bible or the church ?. Who compiled the first bible ?… which bible version is faithful to the original compilation ?<<
        Walter Lotilla.
        These questions are outside of official SDA teaching. Adventists are not allowed to think about the answer to these kinds of questions.

  • Gary Madrigal

    Its Impossible find the true, and not to stay with the true, because the true is Jesus. Welcome.

  • Noel

    The Catholic Church was founded by Christ who appointed Peter as its head, and upon him as upon a rock Christ built His Church. He guaranteed it permanence by promising that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:17-19), and that He would be with it “all days even to the consummation of the world”(Mt 28:19-20).

  • Tim

    I was surprised to hear that you object to being called a convert. To me, a cradle catholic, this is a complement. You have sought out the truth and sacrificed much to follow it. Cradle catholics often take the church for granted. You should be proud to be a convert! You are courageous! Welcome home!

  • HisGrace Saves

    Furthermore, the Holy Spirit will not contradict Himself.

    1 Corinthians 1:10,13 – Paul taught there should be no division among Christians. We must firmly oppose error, but denominational division is not the result of people standing firm for what God requires. They admit people in other denominations are still pleasing to God! They are divided over man-made doctrines. Surely God is displeased.

    Ephesians 4:4-6 – There is one body and one faith, just as surely as there is one God. God will not accept many different faiths, any more than He will accept many different gods.

    John 17:20,21 – Jesus prayed for unity among believers. But the result of man-made guides is division.

    If all people would really obey the Bible, the result would be unity: all people would be Christians, members of the one true church. The fruit of following man-made standards is division: people are divided into many different denominations, contrary to God’s will.

  • JMa

    According to Jesus and the scriptures (and no Ellen G White’s nonsense and the “investigative judgement” are NOT part of the scriptures at all..lie to yourselves all you want but it will never make it the truth) BOTH the SDA “AND” the Catholic Church are carnal/fleshly institutions of men! The SDA’s worship an idol of the “sabbath day” more than Christ (when btw, the sabbath was a FORESHADOW of Christ himself) and Catholics have thousands of idols and their religion is really Mystery Babylon and has nothing to do with Jesus Christ and the new birth, which is “spiritual!” Both religions (just in different ways) have gross idolatry and worship the flesh and fleshly carnal things. There is no true spirituality in either!

    Jesus said the time is coming where the TRUE worshippers would worship God the Father (who it says is invisible btw) in SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH! You do not find Spirit or Truth in either! Both parties need to go to Jesus Christ ALONE. No works, sabbath keeping or sacraments can save you, it is trusting ALONE in the finished work of Christ and entering into his sabbath rest (which is spiritual not physical) that justifies a man. The law cannot save, neither can a priest forgiving you warrant God’s forgiveness. Everyone must come through Jesus Christ. He said I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE and nobody comes to the Father except THROUGH ME!

  • Dominic Duplessis

    Thank you for your article. I grew up in a SDA family who were ministers. I went to their school and after leaving school went to “investigate” the RC Church to find out why SDA’s spend so much of their time slagging the RC Church. What I found was a religion that had stability, made no silly assumptions such as Christ coming in 1844 etc. I found a religion based on the actual lives of the founders and apostles and not out of rebelliousness.

    To this day I still go to the SDA church from time to time to hear a gifted speaker but attend the Seventh Day Roman Catholic Church down the road.

    I attended a three week Seminar of the SDA church the last few weeks. Once again, it was directed against one party. The Roman Catholic Church. Only Daniel and Revelation.

    I am so disappointed to see that the SDA church still finds it more important to SMASH other belief systems than to help people to live in Christ. Three weeks that could have really helped lost souls to find God, instead of bashing every belief system other than the SDA church.

    I want to tell the SDA church that people are leaving your church, not because of Dogma necessarily, but because of your exclusivity attitude. A church that openly DEFIED GOD by trying to outmaneuver him when he says NO ONE KNOWS THE DAY OF MY COMING. Not only did they make a fool of themselves in 1844 by purposefully defying GOD but they do it to this day by telling people how and when Christ will come.

    Why don’t they rather teach people HOW TO LIVE until (when ever) he comes.