Though the idea for the Confraternity of Clergy Converts has been brewing for years, it was inaugurated October 29, 2008 at a retreat of non-Catholic clergy inquirers and converts, and their wives. The CCC is a private association (as outlined in the Code of Canon Law, 321-329) of CHNetwork clergy convert members who freely covenant together for the work of serving Jesus Christ and his Church. In time, the CCC may also include a smaller membership of lay converts, as well as lifelong Catholics.
Reasons For the Confraternity
Over the past 22 years, our discussions with hundreds of clergy converts have convinced us that the similarities clergy converts share unite us in a unique way. Though we come from a wide variety of backgrounds and bring with us a variety of gifts, training, and experiences, our similarities give us a perspective that can enrich the Church because it complements the perspective of other converts and lifelong Catholics as well.
These similarities can be summarized as four conversions that most clergy converts have experienced:
1. Conversion to Jesus Christ;
2. Conversion to a ministerial vocation;
3. Conversion to marriage
4. Conversion to the Catholic Church.
Each of these conversions required an increasing level of radical surrender. Though each of us has experienced these conversions at different levels and maybe in different orders, the following order is generally true of most clergy converts:
1: Conversion to Jesus Christ
We have each, by the mysterious grace of God experienced this, either as a gradual, lifelong confirmation and awakening of baptismal graces, or as a more radical, life-altering experience that redirected our life-priorities, often from the inside out, and which left some of us indecipherable to our friends and family.
2: Conversion to a Ministerial Vocation
Each of us responded to what we perceived as a draw or call from God to leave the secular world for Christian service as a pastor, youth worker, missionary, or other minister. Our answer to this calling typically included:
a. Formal training in a seminary, Bible school, or other setting;
b. Ordination vows to lifelong service;
c. Ordination anointing, laying on of hands, and prayer for gifts of the Spirit;
d. Pastoral experiences that reflected clear evidences of God’s grace and blessings;
e. Affirmation of God’s call by associates and congregations.
3: Conversion to Marriage
Though we may not have understood or appreciated it in these terms, our marriages were indeed a conversion to a new state of life in which we were united to another person, becoming One in Christ. We may not have originally considered this a Sacrament, but part of this conversion involved discovering this sacramental significance.
4: Conversion to the Catholic Church.
This is why you and I connected on this page. Our lives were radically changed through an awakening to the truths of the Catholic faith, which required the rejection (or at least the laying aside) of a large portion of our past, a resignation from pastoral responsibilities, and entrance into a Church which many of us once doubted was even Christian.
These four conversions tie us together in a unique way
We would hope that lifelong Catholic lay people have all experienced the first conversion and, if so called by God, the third; Catholic priests have experienced the first and second conversions; lay converts have experienced the first, possibly the third, and the fourth; but most non-Catholic clergy converts share all four conversions.
What ties together the members of the Confraternity of Clergy Converts (CCC) is the assumption that God has always been purposefully and personally guiding each of us toward the Catholic Church. Our previous lives and experiences were neither accidental nor meaningless. On the contrary, the calling we sensed from God to dedicate our lives to serve Him in Christian work was not a mishearing of God. We only misunderstood the specifics (where, when, why, and how) of this calling that we received within the limited categories of our previous faith tradition.
God was extending the call then in preparation for our service now.
The purpose of the CCC is to establish connections so that we clergy converts can help each other rediscover, reevaluate, and if necessary recommit ourselves to the vows we once made.
Due to the wisdom and pastoral generosity of the Church, some limited number of married clergy converts may discover over time that they have a call to the Catholic priesthood. However, recent history has shown that the vast majority of non-Catholic clergy converts are called to live out our vows to ministry as lay men and women in the Catholic Church.
-Marcus Grodi, President and Founder of the Coming Home Network International