Conversion StoriesMormon

From Cradle Mormon to Joyful Catholic: My Journey to the Eucharist

By: JoAnne January 6, 2014 60 Comments

*JoAnn’s last name is withheld out of consideration for her family who are still Mormon. 

In the mid 1800s, Mormon missionaries travelled throughout the United States and Northern Europe, preaching Joseph Smith’s new gospel. These early Mormon missionaries found a warm welcome in my ancestors’ homes. My mother’s progenitors were middle class cotton farmers in Florida who opened their doors to the missionaries and soon converted to the controversial new faith. My mother, over a century later, was thus born and raised a Mormon while growing up in the Bible Belt. My father’s ancestors welcomed the missionaries into their Danish farmhouse and, after converting to the faith, immigrated to Utah, thus paving the way for my father to be born and raised a Utah Mormon in the following century.

When my father turned 19 he like most young Mormon men, served a two-year mission for the Mormon (also called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or LDS) church. It was during this time that he met my mother who was the daughter of the mission president. Shorty after my father returned home from his two years of service, much to his delight, my mother attended Brigham Young University in his hometown of Provo, Utah. After a brief courtship, my parents married in a Mormon temple and eventually settled in Bountiful, a suburb of Salt Lake City. My father held a steady government job and my mother dedicated her energies to rearing our growing family of six. My parents were loving and kind and my siblings and I enjoyed a stable and secure childhood.

Growing up in Bountiful, Utah was a safe and secure experience. All of my friends and neighbors were Mormon and the LDS church was the central hub of our social and religious lives. I was never exposed to other religions or church services, nor did I feel the need to be since I was lucky enough to be born into the “only true church on the face of the earth.” I was taught to have faith in the Godhead, which comprised God the Father, His created, literal son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. I was also taught to pray, study LDS scriptures, and attend church meetings, but, most importantly, to prepare myself for future temple worship. Church leaders talked in reverential tones about the profound spiritual experiences that awaited me in the temple and admonished me to live my life worthy to participate in its sacred and mysterious ordinances. I looked forward to the day when, as a young adult, I could enter those sacred temple doors and gain the knowledge necessary to attain my eternal destiny.

Budding discontent

After high school graduation, just like my parents, I attended Brigham Young University. It was during this time that I felt the first faint stirrings of discontent with my religion. All my life, I had been taught that a woman’s place was in the home and that obedience to God centered on her not working outside of it. Marriage was portrayed as the fulfillment of a young girl’s dream and the only role models available were domestic ones. From the pulpit, it was taught that only men are endowed with priesthood authority, while women are to obey and serve in supportive roles. As a little girl, I had absorbed this ideology without question, but as a young woman with budding career aspirations and an independent streak, these teachings began to anger me. I felt caught between a rock and a hard place trying to reconcile my emotions with the mandate to obey church authority and accept church teachings without question.

My irritation grew as the prophet at the time, Ezra Taft Benson, warned young women not to work outside the home and instead to find joy in keeping house and rearing children, while my male university professors publically criticized working mothers. On more than one occasion, I was rebuffed when I asked a male professor for career advice. Though I concurred in valuing family and motherhood, I refused to believe that these were the only roles a woman could hold in society. It did not seem fair that a woman was defined and limited by motherhood while a man could be a father and still achieve in other life domains. When I vocalized my frustrations to my peers, I found little if any validation. Women’s marginalization and limitations were ascribed to God’s will rather than to man’s prejudice thus giving a divine stamp of approval upon the practice and conveniently avoiding censorship within Mormon society.

It annoyed me that the majority of LDS women married young, had little earning power, internalized a sense of inferiority, and largely deferred to men. I vowed to be different and prided myself on taking college seriously, earning a degree and travelling internationally. After several years of study and travel, however, I grew increasingly lonely as most of my friends married and moved away. During my senior year of college I fell in love with an engineering student and we soon became engaged. My plans for graduate business school became a source of contention during our engagement since my fiancé, like most Mormon men, felt that a woman’s place was in the home. I eventually gave up my aspirations for post-graduate schooling in order to keep the peace.

In preparation for my wedding, I attended the temple for the first time. All my life I had looked forward to this sacred moment but the experience, far from being a climatic spiritual event, left me feeling uneasy and bewildered. I did not understand what the endowment ceremony was all about, and the handshakes and hand gestures seemed odd and, I was ashamed to admit, rather ridiculous. Since everyone assured me the ceremony was extremely sacred, and that given time and repeated temple visits I would understand its eternal significance, I assumed the problem was mine and persevered despite my misgivings.

After marriage and college graduation, my husband and I found work in the Midwest and it wasn’t long before I discovered I was pregnant. Years of struggle to reconcile career aspirations with cultural expectations came to end when I gladly resigned my position at the birth of my son. I became what every faithful Mormon wife was supposed to be: a stay-at-home mother. Awhile later, I bore another son and the years I spent raising my boys were deeply rewarding and joyful. Now that my sons are older I realize how fleeting their childhood was and I am grateful circumstances allowed me to be home with them. Perhaps even if I had been encouraged and empowered to pursue a career, I would have interrupted a professional life to raise my sons. However, the option to do so should have been mine all along in a climate free from religious and cultural coercion.

Overburdened

My husband and I formed a tight knit group of friends in our Mormon ward (local congregation), most of whom were transplants from Utah like us. I dutifully held the positions to which I was assigned within the church and tried to meet the expectations of being a good Mormon wife and mother. However, as the years rolled by, these expectations began to feel more and more heavy, and I grew increasingly unhappy with the LDS church. Since I was taught it was the only true church on earth, and its teachings infallible, I saw my discontent as a sign of spiritual weakness, and I suffered a great deal of anguish and guilt for having them. I felt ashamed to admit that my religion had become a heavy burden, but the truth was, I felt controlled, devalued, unworthy, and exhausted from trying to meet its demands.

Worship within Mormonism occurs in a tiered format, with Sunday services held at a common church building open to all and more sacred services held at a temple site where only the most devout members are issued permits (called “recommends”) and allowed to enter. Mormon doctrine teaches that temple worship, along with faith, repentance, and good works, is an essential requirement in order to live with God in His highest heaven. The essence of temple worship centers around making promises to God and learning and repeating certain handshakes and hand gestures, called ordinances. Upon death, God supposedly requires believers to perform these ordinances in order to gain admission to His presence. Those believers that can do so, and have obeyed all the other tenants of Mormonism, will supposedly be gifted in the next life with not only God’s presence but with eventual exaltation, which is the privilege of becoming gods of your own world in the eternities.

The privilege to enter the temple is contingent upon a list of criteria. Members must first pay a ten percent tithe and submit to yearly interviews with church authorities to determine their worthiness. They are expected to wear church-issued undergarments that do not accommodate the wearing of sleeveless or short apparel. They must avoid all hot drinks and alcohol. They must regularly attend church meetings and accept church assignments willingly. Members can always choose not to fulfill these requirements and still attend Sunday services, however, they would not be allowed to worship in the temple and thus theoretically will be shut out of God’s highest kingdom.

Meeting these requirements resulted in running on a treadmill of exhaustion. The irony was that, even though I often fulfilled the criteria to attend the temple, I still left there feeling confused and angry. The years of preserving in temple worship had not resolved my discomfort with this form of worship. I simply could not understand why the sovereign God of the universe would make entrance into His kingdom contingent upon knowing secret handshakes and code words. God, it seemed to me, was a bureaucrat, and a highly provisional one at that. From the cradle I had been told I was saved only after all I could do and as an adult, it became agonizingly apparent I could never do or be enough.

Though I had accepted my role as a wife and mother, I was still pained by the status of women at church. Since LDS teachings declare that men are the only ones gifted with God’s priesthood, they are the only ones empowered within the organization. Women are thus unauthorized to bless others in God’s name, even their own children. This exclusion and discrimination continued to cause me deep pain and anger.

The search for an authentic life

To say that my discontent created a predicament would be an understatement. My husband and I had married with the intention of raising our children in the church and following in the tradition of our ancestors. Much of my social network involved church members and, though my parents had long since abandoned the Mormon faith, my in-laws were highly active in it. I felt hemmed-in on all sides by other’s expectations and by my prior commitments. I came to dread Sundays. I was so busy running a household and raising my children that I was able to put my doubts and discontents on the back burner where they quietly simmered for years.

Eventually however, those discontents boiled over and demanded my full attention. What turned up the heat and forced me to confront this issue was, unfortunately, a tragic loss. My older brother, at the age of 36, was killed in a motorcycle accident. I was devastated. My brother’s death forced me to realize that my life would also end someday and thus I’d better be sure I was living an authentic one. His death gave me the courage to finally accept my misgivings about Mormonism and to take the first faltering steps outside the LDS world. For a people pleaser indoctrinated since birth with the idea that my eternal salvation rested on accepting LDS teachings, this was a difficult thing to do.

Over the next eight years, however, I slowly withdrew from the Mormon religion one step at a time while I began an intense period of deep questioning and searching. Mentally, I set aside the rigid ideology ingrained into me and considered other explanations about God. I intently studied the major religions of the world, even Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as New Age spirituality. I read hundreds of near death experiences. I explored the wider Christian world and attended a variety of church services. I participated in inter-faith prayer groups, attended Christian women’s conferences and read voraciously. Every step I took outside of Mormonism was fascinating, but also frightening and threatening. I was a stay-at-home mother with two children and no job. I wasn’t sure what my quest would cost in terms of personal relationships, but I knew I had to continue.

My marriage was in a state of upheaval and disequilibrium for several years as my husband was deeply hurt by my choices. During this time I suffered from his anger, disappointment, and emotional withdrawal. I walked increasingly in solitude with God, learning to rely on no one else but Him. Thankfully, my spiritual quest did not cost me my marriage though it would have if I had made all the changes that were to come abruptly. As it was, I took slow, incremental steps away from the LDS church, was discreet about my spiritual quest, and allowed my sons to continue in the LDS faith. This measured approach gave my husband time to adjust to and eventually accept the monumental changes happening in my life. Prayer also played a huge role in helping my family during this difficult time.

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet…”

During this period of searching, I read about a woman who claimed to have messages from God. I found her writings posted on the Internet and began to study them. These writings, coming from the pen of a simple housewife and mother, were astounding and touched my heart in a profound way. The messages spoke of God’s passionate love for the human soul, the real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, the role of Mary as Queen of Heaven, and the authority of the Pope as Christ’s vicar on earth (all new concepts to me). The writings were interwoven with references to Bible verses and I soon developed a deep hunger and thirst for more of God’s Word. I joined a formal, non-denominational Bible study and for the next four years explored the writings of Isaiah, John the Beloved Apostle, Paul, and Moses. A whole new world opened up.

Although I had been taught from the Bible all my life, I was told it had not been translated correctly and could not be understood without LDS interpretation. It was always the Book of Mormon that was heavily emphasized in church meetings, while the Bible was seen as more of a supplemental text. Now, for the first time in my life I was reading the Bible without external commentary, nor through the LDS lens. I slowly came to recognize the depths of disparity between LDS doctrine and biblical teachings. Though words such as “God” “salvation”, “atonement”, and “priesthood” were used in both Mormonism and the Bible, they had different meanings. It was confusing and took a long time before I could identify all the ways I had been misinformed. I was also stunned to learn that the early Apostles warned believers of the very thing that the founder of Mormonism had done…preach a different gospel (see Galatians 1:8). Though I had initially stepped outside of Mormonism due to my unhappiness with the controlling and discriminatory nature of the religion, I had never questioned many of its foundational teachings. Now, I was horrified and shocked to realize that for all my life, I had been taught doctrine that was fundamentally flawed.

Like fireworks going off in a dark sky, each time I studied God’s Word, a new insight or truth would illuminate my understanding and leave me in awe. I came to realize that the Bible is trustworthy and the inspired, holy Word of God (see 2 Timothy 3:16). As the Bible makes crystal clear, there is, has been, and only ever will be one God — in this universe or in any other (see Isaiah 46:9). I learned that ancient temple worship centered exclusively on animal sacrifice, which Christ’s death on the cross made obsolete. With deep relief I came to understand that human beings’ hearts, not stone and mortar buildings, are the only temples God requires (see Acts 17:24). I learned that all believers who follow God in sincerity and truth have the opportunity to be together forever in heaven, not just those that can lay claim to LDS temple worship.

During these years I continued to sample other church services, yet from the mystic writings I had read, I became more and more interested in the Catholic Mass and began attending once a month. Like all the other church services I sampled, I would sit in the back, talk to no one, and feel a little scared and guilty for not worshipping with my family. At first, I had no clue what was going on, yet over time, I came to observe that the Catholic Mass always centered on Jesus Christ. From the Old and New Testament Scripture readings, to the recited praises and affirmations, the Mass is a jubilant celebration of Christ’s sacrifice. During the service, the priest speaks for only ten minutes or less and thus no human interpretation or commentary takes away from this sacred Christ-centered focus. What a contrast to LDS services where worship consists of talks from lay members concerning subjects as obeying church leaders, attending the temple, or reading the Book of Mormon.

From my monthly observations of Mass, I came to identify how the concept of the Eucharist differed from my previous understanding of the Lord’s Last Supper. Whereas during an LDS service the sacrament of breaking bread was performed in memory of Christ’s past sacrifice on the cross, and the broken bread a symbol of that ancient event, the Eucharist was that very sacrifice itself, perpetually being offered upon the altar. The broken wafer isn’t a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice; it is Christ (see Mark 14:22).

This great truth took time to sink in. Meanwhile, I was impressed and comforted to see men and women both participating in the Mass as lectors and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. My relief at such inclusion was just a promise of the thrill that was to come when, after my own baptism in the Catholic Faith years later, I was invited to lay my hands on another sister and bless her in God’s Name. I was stunned and overjoyed since all my life I had been told such privileges only belonged to men. I cannot fully express what a deep comfort it is to know that I am included and have an equal share in the holy priesthood of all believers through Baptism (see 1 Peter 2:9). God, it turned out, was not withholding and biased after all. Nor was He exclusive and conditional in allowing me inside His sanctuaries. One day, weeks before my baptism, I recall sitting in the chapel feeling such gratitude that I could be there without having to pass a series of interviews, fulfill a list of requirements, and carry a permit. I could sit in God house without having to prove myself worthy of the privilege!

Another wonderful discovery that unfolded for me during these years was my recognition of who Mary is and the role she plays in the Church. As a child I had been taught she was just a peasant girl whose task ended when she bore and raised Jesus. To the contrary, I came to understand that Mary was the first disciple and played a key role in the early Church. More amazing is the fact that she still participates in her Son’s redemptive work and appears around the world to encourage lives of conversion and prayer. I came to sense how deeply Jesus loves and honors His mother and how much He wishes His followers to do likewise.

More and more as the years passed, I wanted to partake of the Eucharist, yet I didn’t see how I could make such a final and radical change without permanently alienating my husband. I told myself I would join the Catholic Faith once my boys were safely raised, but God had other plans. One day while driving, I turned on the radio and caught a conversation between a Catholic priest and a call-in listener. The listener explained how he wanted to join the Catholic Church, but was reluctant since his wife belonged to a different religion. The priest responded by telling the man that he should not delay if the Lord was calling him. I rolled my eyes and thought that might work for this guy but he’s not married to a Mormon. Just then, the caller explained that his wife was Mormon. My ears perked up, I got goose bumps and listened intently as the priest recommend a book entitled Inside Mormonism by Isaiah Bennett (Catholic Answers, Inc. 2001). You can bet I bought a copy right away!

It is amazing how God works, using coincidences of perfect timing such as this. The book the priest mentioned was customized perfectly for me, since it clearly outlined LDS and Catholic teachings and revealed the discrepancies between them. The book validated the misgivings I had had about Mormonism, as well as cleared up the last lingering confusion left over from LDS indoctrination. With every last question seamlessly resolved, I mustered my courage and informed my husband of my decision to join the Catholic Faith. He regretfully, but graciously, accepted. Within months, I officially revoked my membership in the LDS Church and signed up for RCIA classes. A year later, I joyfully stood in the baptismal waters and made my espousals to God.

“…and the truth will set you free”

Now my feet are firmly planted on solid ground, on a tradition going back thousands of years to the dawn of Christianity, a tradition whose leader comes from a long line of successors, the first of whom was appointed by none other than Christ Himself. I now participate in true worship with its ancient, scriptural underpinnings, and the living Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. This rich tradition is in stark contrast to the religion of my birth, which was founded on the unscriptural claims and writings of a 19th century farm boy from upstate New York.

Due to this farm boy’s writings, I had mistrusted the Bible as the living Word of God and lived under the concept of obeying rules as a way to gain salvation. I had been taught that divine love was highly conditional and that grace was not a gift but something I had to earn. God was presented not as the mysterious, ineffable source of all creation, but simply as an evolved human being who meted out salvation much like an insurance agent issues a policy: with little passion and lots of contingencies. As a result of such indoctrination, I had been plagued with feelings of anxiety, inadequacy, and alienation towards my Creator.

Now, thanks be to God, my soul is at peace and I rest secure knowing that the Lord’s unfathomable grace and mercy are gifts to be received with deep thanks, not to be earned in anxiety. Instead of dreading the Sabbath, I now joyfully come to Mass every Sunday and, with deep gratitude, partake of the Eucharist, knowing that it is indeed the living Presence of my Lord and Savior, disguised in the little white host. The complexity and resulting stress of my previous comprehension of Jesus Christ’s Gospel is now pared down to the beautiful simplicity of biblical truth. The shackles of my former understanding have fallen away and my spirit soars free.

  • Jill Bishton

    Thanks be to God for JoAnne’s journey to the Catholic Faith and for the peace she is now experiencing.

  • Saberol

    I am happy to read about JoAnne’s new-found path in the Catholic faith. I pray for her and her family, that they too may be led by the Holy Spirit, who is the spirit of truth.

  • found

    God is still resqueing His children from lies that shackel us. He writes the truth in the temples of our hearts then gives us the way to hear and see them. When called like this no one or anything not even the gates of hell can destroy the truth that has set us free. He protects us with his word hidden deep with our hewarts and we are called home to Him and His divine Catholic Church . Thankfully some keep searching till they find the true church the same way they found the true savior Jesus Christ our Lord who is at the center of our home church hanging on the cross from which He gave His Testamony to the world.prayThe place we come to kneelworship and adore Him, give Thanks, pray, be forigiven and be touched by His Grace to be enveloped in His Love to be holy as He is Holy as He imparts His Holiness within our souls to feel His holy presence bowing with the whole family on earth and in Heaven before His throne. My house is a house of prayer.

  • jkru

    Faith is a gift, but this story shows how the gift of faith is not given quickly and easily. “JoAnne” spent a long time in study and prayer. She is a wise and gifted woman. My soul salutes her! Praising God!

  • Rynny

    Thank you for your amazing and awe inspiring courage! Mormonism seems so hard to leave and stories like yours give me hope 🙂 you’re a beautiful soul. I pray that your family be at peace and comforted with your decision, that your husband re-falls in love with you -the new you- as revealed through your new found true love in Christ and His Church, and that your sons come to know there is reason for your faith. And that the Blessed Mother bring all your loved ones home to the Eucharist if it is God’s desire. Amen.

    • utahdane

      It is hard to leave, because unlike the Catholic religion, it actually offers you something. A community, foreign language training, a welfare system, free food, employment center ect. Catholics offer hospitals and schools which is wonderful, but once you graduate or become well it offers little.

      • deaconjohnny

        Perceptive comment, utahdane, thank you!

        • utahdane

          Thank you. I wish I could have the best of both. I really did enjoy my Catholic education, even though I was Mormon.

          • Lorri

            The tragedy here is that you clearly learned nothing. If you had, you would no longer practice Mormonism. Everyone on this board has been polite enough to not mention Joseph Smith’s polygamous practices and the fact that African Americans were not at one time allowed into the temple.

            • utahdane

              Lori you do not know anything about me. I talked to the Catholic Priest for 3 years at the school. I considered being Catholic. The Priest suggested I stay Mormon. I also taught the Catholic Seminarians. I have a Mormon, Catholic, and Secular education. Don’t tell me what I know and I do not know. The issues of polygamy are simple. It had to do with Abraham’s example of increasing numbers. You are wrong about African Americans. Originally they were allowed to have the priesthood and would have been allowed in the temple, but the issue of Blacks becoming polygamists and marrying white girls was just too much for society. Many blacks were killed just for any relationship with a white woman. In a weird way it was for their protection. Notice I have not mentioned pedophiles, Galileo,celebicy, burning of heretics ect. I have not mentioned these because unlike you I know history is more complicated than propaganda and people have not been fair to Mormons or Catholics when talking about these subjects. I did not become Catholic because the University and the Priests told me to remain Mormon. Unlike you they were very kind.

      • Garth

        been reading some of your very odd and angry comments, maybe you can get some free meds from the bishops warehouse…. You are not doing the Mormons any favour. 7th generation Mormon/Catholic convert.

        • utahdane

          Anger, I can see, odd not sure.

      • Lorri

        I am a Catholic. Catholicism is very different from Mormonism that it is true Christianity, centered around Christ and founded by the Apostles. There is plenty of community surrounding the Catholic Church, extensive charitable services, and as you mentioned, provides’some of the best education in the world. Kindly do not make such broad stroke statements based upon your very limited knowledge of Catholicism and its adherents. Thank you

        • utahdane

          Excuse me, I have a Catholic education and am Mormon and almost became Catholic. I know a great deal about both religions. I am sorry no community is as strong as the Mormon community. It is just a fact.

  • debbie

    Our God is an Awesome God! Thanks be to God. PEACE.

  • Wow, what a great story. Mormonism seems so far afield that every time I learn something new about it my eyes open in surprise. Welcome to our wonderful faith. My prayers for you and your family.

    • utahdane

      I used to think the same about Catholics until I received a Catholic education. My guess is you know very little about Mormons. The Catholic and Mormon Religions are both very complex. Learn before you judge.

      • utahdane, I don’t think my comment was judgemental. I only expressed how different Mormonism appears to be. I’ve met many Mormons in my life and every single one was a fine upstanding person. All Catholics should be as decent as the Mormons I have known. If I offended you, I apologize.

        • utahdane

          I took offense to far afield. Perhaps you just meant it was different than you. Thanks for your apology. Mormons are kind of defensive now. Sorry

          • No problem. Peace be with you.

  • Frank B

    Thanks for your story JoAnne. My youngest brother converted to Mormonism back in the mid-90’s and I pray for him everyday. Your story gives me much hope. God bless.

  • Michele Mikucki

    My son was a firm Catholic. went off to college. Met Mormon friends there, then a girl. She is so cute, and he knows it. Her and her friends convinced him he should be baptized Mormon and read the book of Mormon to be saved? He was alone at college and found friendship and happiness with these kind Mormon people. He was convinced this Joseph Smith guy is real… and all these beliefs we never heard of. He was recently baptized Mormon and I’m heart broken. He graduated and home now.. he communicates with the Mormon girl that is very kind, and I truly think she cares for my son. But, she also tore out my heart and convinced my son of her beliefs. I came across this page searching for answers on how to get my son back. For now I believe he’s just enjoying her friendship and pleasing her. She’s already tried getting him to move to Utah to be closer to her. I’m scared to death. In his heart, he knows the truth, but for a while he really enjoyed the kindness of Morman people when he was out of state alone. I am Catholic, and so disagree with so much of LDS faith.. no disrespect to those that are… but I don’t want my son marrying this girl, and teaching my grandchildren, the faith I feel is sooo wrong in so many ways. Thanks for the article, it helped confirm that if only my son did his research, he’d see the truth..

    • Teresa Grodi

      Be assured that you, your son, and his friend are in the prayers of the members of the Coming Home Network. We are lifting him up to his kind and loving Father.

    • michelle

      He will return eventually, to be mormon is very hard. you must be perfect. it is exhausting, eventually the more he learns about it the faaster he will see the con.. have faith. share with him mormonthink.com. has much info. i left after 30 years.

      • utahdane

        Both religions are hard to live perfectly.

      • Susana

        We (LDS) are not perfect but we strive to be better everyday through the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ and with the help of our Heavenly Father.

    • deaconjohnny

      Michele Mikucki, if I may respond before being influenced by other responses. I hear your pain and grief; and if my words may extend any comfort to you in the Name of Christ and Holy Church, then so be it.

      First of all, keep offering your son unconditional love and acceptance. Personally (and others may disagree) I feel that you should avoid negative comments about the girl, and try to highlight points you like about her. Your son obviously likes her very much, so try to engage with him emotionally, and show empathy.

      Your son is going to be watching you and other Catholics very very closely as he weighs up life choices that he knows only he can make. If he senses that you are suppressing any judgmental attitudes, he will pick up on it, and will use it later as “justification” for choosing whatever path he chooses.

      I was watching Raymond Arroyo’s “The World Over Live” last night, and he was interviewing a lady doctor who has written a book about the mother-son relationship. She was saying that often teenage sons will disconnect emotionally from their mothers during teenage years, but mums should just “swing with the punches” (my words) because (this is the significant thing for you I believe) often, after they graduate from college, in their early twenties, they are going to need and will knit a far closer bond with you. You can see it on EWTN http://www.ewtn.com/tv/live/worldover.asp

      I read your piece, and I think of our Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of our Dear Lord Jesus, and there she is, at the foot of her Son’s Cross, and a sword of the Spirit is piercing her very heart, soul and being. When Our Lord cried out “It is Finished!” Blessed Mary’s entire world and life must have crumbled down around her. Allow the blessed Virgin to comfort you, and to intercede for you, as you look unwavering upon Jesus in your trial.

      Remember — your son belongs to God, not you. He must find his own robust faith. Right now he may well be deciding what is the most important priority in his life: fidelity to God, or the attraction of this precious woman who also is on the life journey toward faith (pray for her too!).

      Trust God; roll your care upon Him, and as Jesus so often said “fear not!” This trial is as much for you as for your son. “Even though He slay me, still will I trust Him!” Job said about God. Allow the gift of simple trust and continued faith in God to permeate your being. (I’m going to add a question I’ve added after posting this: Have you ever met this woman? Other questions spring to mind, but they can wait.)

      And if you ignore EVERYTHING I just wrote, please take on board ONE thing: “Be a friend to your son!” God bless you!

      • Lorri

        Your answer is filled wih the Holy Spirit.’

      • utahdane

        If you really want your son to return to the Catholic faith, you will need to find him a great Catholic community. I know many Catholics are sincere, good, believe many correct things, value education, ect, but no offense but I really do not think you have the community that is offered to Mormons, Mormons especially have a great community for young adults. Free employment help, free networking, free dating service that is live not online, free safety net, language training, free fraternity at college (Institute) ect. I went to college at a Catholic and Mormon College and so I was blessed, but some college kids go to public Universities and the only support they get socially and morally is from the Mormon Institute. I am Mormon, but perhaps Catholics could retain more of their youth if they had similar programs at public universities?

        • Sheila S. Conrads

          I am a convert to the Catholic Church – my protestant background was varied. I became an Episcopalian at 15 because to me church was about worshipping almighty God. My brother became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The God I worshipped was to me beyond my ability to comprehend. My brother told me he always knew that God was a man. To me the most important thing about Church was worshiping almighty God. To my brother it was all about community. utahdane is right. I was raised around Mormons, nobody has community like the Mormons. Nobody has organization like the Mormons. When it comes to beliefs like abortion and marriage my brother and I totally agree. I love my brother and we are very close. (by the way utahdane divorce can be healed in the Catholic Church, I was divorced and am now remarried to a Catholic.) But still I go to church to hear the word of God and receive the body and blood of my savior Jesus. That is first, not community.

          • utahdane

            I was just angry when I talked about divorce. I know the Catholic Church is working on this and I am proud of them. Divorce is horrible, but unfortunately sometimes it cannot be avoided. Annulments and temple divorce take too long. Both religions could be more understanding on this issue. The Bahai have a very interesting solution to this. If you want a divorce, you separate from your spouse for one year. Then you are allowed to divorce, after thinking about it a year.

    • C

      Funny that I read this now; it’s Pentecost Sunday, the birthday of the Church, the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples…Michele, it’s perplexing how one can be convinced of ideas such as those in Mormonism, but I won’t dwell on those mechanisms right now. Your commentators from months and a year ago are right in saying that you should be positive towards your son and this woman; it appears that you are, so God bless you for that! It’s interesting that we think in terms of “war against,” “fight against,” “anti-,” et cetera (e.g. anti-abortion, fight against cancer, put an end to cyberbullying), but we ultimately direct our attention on precisely those things! We ought to think of pro-life, advancement towards good health, promoting good community values online, et cetera. Likewise, we should pray for conversions of the soul, for being receptive and open to truth, for wisdom, for discernment, for counsel and fortitude (well, you may know these gifts of the Holy Spirit already). I’m curious as to what’s happened with you and your son in the course of a year, but I hope that both of you are well, and I pray that the two of you, and this woman, may know the truth and peace of God, and those of the Holy Spirit that He sent on the first Pentecost. May God bless your existence and the courage to make yourself known and vulnerable to your fellow brethren in Christ; thank you for being an attentive organ of the mystical Body of Christ that sends urgent messages to the rest of the Body. St. Monica, pray for us.

    • utahdane

      It is a little bit of a simplification to say that Mormon Baptism saves you. Let me put it in Greek Orthodox terms: Unless your reject Christ you will be saved and go to heaven but the level of joy you experience will be based to what degree you believed in and followed Christ. Mormon baptism exalts, it does not save. To avoid permanent Hell you must accept Jesus or at least reject the Devil. To be exalted or be like God (theosis) one of the requirements is Mormon Baptism in this life or the next. Hope this helps.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theosis

  • James J

    My wife is a former Mormon who converted to Catholicism about 14 years ago. We are both Catholic and are raising our children Catholic. However, her parents are trying very hard to get her back into Mormonism. It cause her great pain and confusion and at times she questions her decision to become Catholic. This is unsettling to me and I am not certain what to do…

    • Jo Ann

      I try to have compassion on those LDS members who cannot tolerate a different belief system. They are simply a product of LDS indoctrination and they don’t know any better. My mother-in-law was quite disapproving and judgmental towards me when I left the Mormon faith. I had to have a very frank talk with her and set my boundaries. I told her she may be disappointed and sad that I don’t share her Mormon beliefs, but if she wants to remain in a relationship with me she would need to keep those feelings to herself. To her credit, she has and we enjoy a respectful, warm relationship. The phrase I always use when confronting disunity is this: “surely what unites us as believers is far, far greater than what divides us.”

  • utahdane

    You people are clueless about Mormons. I have a Catholic, Mormon, and secular education. I am also a fifth generation Mormon. Mormons do not force women not to work. More moms work in Utah than any other state. Women are simply advised to put family needs above career aspirations. This does not mean women can not work of have a career. You people are hopeless.

    • utahdane

      No Mormon woman has been excluded from the Lord’s Supper or the temple for working. We are not like you. You cast out those who are divorced. (EDITED BY MODERATOR)

    • Michele Mikucki

      Well, I don’t think us people are hopeless.. I just think “us people” who don’t understand Mormon beliefs need to do research before passing opinions, and be careful with words when passing judgment. I’m not sure what you read to upset you… but on behalf of us Catholics I apologize, because I originally came to this page looking for answers, and while trying to understand I have found some things about Mormons that may not be quite true. Most likely just like the person who made a comment about woman who don’t work.

      • utahdane

        Sorry, I can be a little defensive. I actually like the Catholic religion. I just get tired of people not understanding Mormons. I need to control my temper. Thanks for being nice.

        • Elvira

          The Catholic believes are also often misunderstood, so i get your frustration utahdane, so i also wanted to apologise on behalf of the Catholics. And thank you for the clarification.

          • utahdane

            Thank you. You are very kind.

  • Garth

    Thank you JoAnne,

  • Garth

    Oops, Thank you Joanne, am on the same journey. It helps to hear one is not alone in the search for truth…I had to move to Scotland and marry a Polish Catholic woman and it has still taken years to detach from the Mormon nigglings in my brain…Mormons say “the glory of God is intelligence” I think the glory of God is Love, May God Bless You.

    • Jo Ann

      I so agree with you! The glory of God is LOVE.

  • Lorri

    Thank you for such a deep and loving testimony about your former life as a Mormon and rebirth as a Catholic. It is fascinating and inspiring to exoerience my faith through the eyes of a convert, especially those of a former Mormon. At a time when we watch the world falling apart, testimonies such as yours send in the light and peace of the one living and true God Jehovah. Thank you and God bless you and your family!!

    • JoAnne

      Thank you as well for your words of love and encouragement. The Holy Spirit is at work in the world even during these dark times, I am living proof of this truth.

  • Jorge…

    Dear JoAnne,
    I am a brazilian Catholic and I have Mormon cousins. It’s so good seeing how the Truth, the Love, the only God can change our lifes and convert all the people, doesn’t matter their darks!

    Praised be God for you, my sister! Your history give me stenght to believe in the conversion of my dear cousins!

  • Michele Mikucki

    I have been on the page before, and feel the need to add a comment that eats at me often. My son was raised Catholic, Then converted to Mormon faith when he went off to college. He met Mormon friends He has brought some of his friends to our house and they are the nicest, kindest sweetest, most respectful group of kids I have ever met!! Our Catholic faith does drive me crazy mailing out letters, and mentioning in church to give more money. But it’s my choice and nothing they can do if I choose to not give the percentage they ask! My son graduated from college and is making really good money. He moved back in with us after graduation. Our goal for our son is to save, pay off loans and get a dependable vehicle. I even offered to pay a % on the loan just to help him get ahead… and honestly it’s killing me, but anything for my kid! I later found out, I’m going with out. and short every month.. (not totally because of me helping him but partial) and here he is giving his LDS church a decent portion of his check!! Instead of paying off his loan, and having ability to get a dependable car, he’s giving a good size chunk of his money to the church as “tidings” and they keep track, and if he don’t give what they say he should, he looses Mormon privileges because he’s not meeting their standings. Him holding that card which indicates he meets their standards means everything to him. So lets just say, I’m not happy to say the least. In his eyes he’s pleasing God. I my eyes? I’m short cash to help him, I go with out to help him, and he’s giving it away! He works in the city in not such a safe area, 40 min away in an old truck, but can’t afford a new one and still gives so much to his church! They don’t consider he has his own bills.. school loans, car insurance his phone bill!! He’d even save money on interest if he gave the bank the money he gives to the church. I know his faith is important to him, but it’s caused an argument between us which makes me more bitter about the faith. Who are they to tell anybody what they can afford? I KNOW, all faiths ask for donations, but to demand or your out? Simply insane and wrong! He’s not out of the church, He’d just lose his card stating he’s in good standings!! Who do they think they are even asking to see paystubs? ARG!! Makes me so mad!

    • kyle

      Hi Michele. As a Mormon, please allow me to dispel some myths in your post. I will do so gently, not to judge but to inform.
      From your comment:
      “…he’s giving a good size chunk of his money to the church as “tidings” and they keep track, and if he don’t give what they say he should, he looses Mormon privileges because he’s not meeting their standings.”
      While the church does keep track of your son’s tithing, there is no way for them to know how much your son is making. He is counseled to give 10%, and he is asked during his “Temple Recommend Interview” if he is a full tithe payer. It is up to him to be honest. But again, the church leadership has no clue how much he makes per year.
      Again, from your comment:
      “I KNOW, all faiths ask for donations, but to demand or your out?”
      There are no demands made that we pay tithing. It is true that if we are not full tithe payers that we MAY NOT receive our Temple Recommends, and thus be unable to enter the Temple. But that in no way means that we MUST pay, nor does it remove us from membership of the church. (the fact that it is nearly impossible to remove your name from the church records is another matter entirely)
      I am sorry that you are in the position that you are by helping your son. Hopefully he recognizes the sacrifice that you are making for him. I also hope these facts help in understanding your son’s choices a little better.

  • Hugh Beaumont

    Jesus said:
    Joh 15:4 Abide in me: and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me.

    How do we “abide” in Jesus? Jesus said:

    Joh 6:56 (6:57) He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me: and I in him.

  • Chelsea Kimmick

    This is so helpful to me. My family is Mormon all the way back to the beginning and all my life I’ve questioned it. When I was a little girl I asked the bishop’s daughter why it was the true faith and she said it just was and to question it was to question God. Now I’m wanting to convert to what I truly believe is the true church but am still terrified of losing my family because of my choice. Knowing there have been other members with these same issues makes it easier to take those final steps.

    • JoAnn

      I understand your fear, I was also terrified. Please remember that the Lord is a wonderful promise keeper. He will see you through and give you His peace along the way. Knowing him more fully in the Eucharist has been worth every step of my journey. May God bless you on yours.

  • Sarah

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I was a “cradle Mormon” but stopped attending when I was a teenager for the same reasons – the only life of Holiness is motherhood and housewife. The inequality and indoctrination of Truth that never seemed true to me. I searched for many years and even studied religion in college and grad school at Harvard Divinity School, but academically and without heart. I finally found my spiritual home in the Catholic Church. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • John

    Hey, I’m a catholic student at fsu! I found my faith – praise God – a few years after my mom passed. My brother went has been lost and, rather than attending college this year, a visiting family in Utah that are mormon. Mormonism seems convincing and comforting to him because he has no faith right now. Please pray that Christ guides him back the the Catholic Church; the Church that He established thousands of years ago for our sake and His glory. Thanks for the prayers!

  • Aryne E

    I’m a Mormon girl who married a Catholic boy. We were married in the Catholic church and our children were both baptized Catholic. But I love the LDS church in SO many ways. It’s hard to say good bye to. Any advice for how to set aside my LDS convictions so I can focus on raising my children Catholic? My heart breaks because I really do love the LDS church but I also love the Catholic church. I’m torn and scared that I need to figure this out as my son is approaching 8 years old and should be receiving first communion or baptism soon.

    • Sue Meissner

      Aryne E. It does not matter which you choose if the teaching does not continue in the home. At least in LDS children’s primary, they read the scriptures, learn to understand basic concepts such as baptism, practice giving public talks, understand the sacrament ( eucharist) learn who Jesus and God and the Holy Ghost are. But even if taught at church but not reinforced at home, there is little difference. My husband went through first communion and he said his understanding was nil. No explanations just do it. But 8 year olds in the LDS church if started from age 6 to prepare for baptism know a whole lot more. The children’s hymn “I am a child of God” Just that simple understanding of their relationship to God is priceless. Again, religious education is really centered in the home by word and deed no matter which path you choose for your family.

      • JoAnn

        I agree the LDS church does a thorough job teaching children its doctrine. The problem is the doctrine is incorrect and false. God does not require we worship in stone and mortar temple buildings to earn our salvation. God is not an evolved human being, nor can we evolve into Gods ourselves in the next life. God has never condoned polygamy, God does not discriminate and never has he prevented African Americans from full membership in HIs church.

  • Sue Meissner

    Your understanding of Mormon doctrine was very very flawed. Too many to name. Oppressed women forced to be housewives? Give me a break. I attended grad school and neither my LDS husband nor did church leaders oppressed me to give up a career and stay home. That is Utah Mormon culture. No authority because women do not hold the priesthood? What, the Catholic church gives the priesthood to women? Never knew the Bible was the word of God? Give me a break. LDS do believe it is true and Joseph Smith never completed the translation. It was a translation of addition not subtraction according to Catholic scholar Stephen Webb. The LDS temple is about covenant making to be faithful to God. Catholics call it a consecrated life. And if you had learned about the temple, then you would kniw that women do perform ordinances in the temple. And Mary has never ever been referred to as a ‘peasant’ girl.

    I am glad you found Catholicism I really am. But as a long time convert and highly educated woman in the LDS church, I see you were imbibed by culture and not sound theology. I think many of the converts from Mormonism to Catholicism have very tenuous knowledge of the doctrine. All Christian religions ( including Mormonism) have filters on the scriptures. Catholics are no different. Not saying they are wrong, but it does control interpretation to fit its narrative as well. Not judging just observing. You are young and have the zeal of a convert. I sincerely wish you the best.

  • Kristen

    Love your conversion story. It makes my heart happy to hear stories of people coming to the fullness of faith!
    I once dated a Mormon, who unfortunately made some mistakes in his youth and was forever deemed unworthy by his church. It broke my heart to see him so bashed and put down by his own church and I longed for him to find his loving and forgiving Father in the Catholic Church. Eventually we went our own ways, but I keep praying for his conversion, wherever he is.

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