Photo: Jim Anderson during his first appearance on The Journey Home in October 2001.
With the notable exception of our founder, Marcus Grodi, nobody has been on staff longer than Jim Anderson, who currently serves as Ministry Membership and Pastoral Care Coordinator for CHNetwork. He joined the staff in May of 2001 (his first task on day one was assembling his own desk!) and has since worked with countless men and women on the journey toward the Catholic Faith, including the crucial work of maintaining long-term relationships with converts to make sure they’re continuing to adjust well to life in the Church.
Jim has also been Catholic longer than anyone on staff! He was received into the Church in on July 25th, 1981, the feast of St. James. A former Protestant seminarian himself, Jim’s name has been mentioned by numerous Journey Home guests as a help to them on their path into the Church.
In light of our apostolate’s 30th anniversary this year, we asked Jim about some of his experiences from working for CHNetwork over the past 22 years:
The Coming Home Network’s visibility has risen quite a bit since you first joined the staff; how did you first encounter the work in those early years?
Jim: I attended the Defending the Faith Conference at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in June 1993. At the end of the conference, it was announced that a luncheon was to be held that afternoon, and any current or former non- Catholic clergy or seminarians, professors, etc. were invited to attend. I took up the invitation. It was at that luncheon, hosted by Marcus Grodi, that the founding of what would become known as The Coming Home Network was announced.
Some readers may not realize how international our work is. What’s your sense of how many countries our members come from?
Jim: The lion’s share of the people who contact us are from the United States. In addition to that, we have been contacted by people seeking the fullness of the Truth from over 70 countries. Recently we were contacted by a Muslim man and his wife in Afghanistan who wish to become Catholic Christians. Because I speak German, I’ve also been able to correspond with several members from Germany in their own language.
You’ve witnessed so many Journey Home recordings—do you have any interesting stories from what it’s like to have been behind-the- scenes of them for more than two decades?
Jim: There was the time that Marcus was interviewing a guest and a tornado warning was announced in Irondale, AL. The staff of EWTN evacuated the studio audience and got them to safety. Meanwhile, Marcus and his guest continued with the interview and completed the show. Everyone survived!
There was also the time that the scheduled Journey Home guest forgot that he was supposed to fly to Alabama to be on with Marcus. By the time we discovered that no one was going to show up, it was two hours before the beginning of the live broadcast. This gave Marcus the opportunity, with very little preparation, to talk about the Bible verses he never saw as a Protestant pastor. That idea of the “verses I never saw” has come to be one of the major recurring themes in our work.
What has your experience over the years taught you about the challenges our CHNetwork members continue to face after they become Catholic?
Jim: When a person enters into full communion with the Catholic Church, it is one thing to arrive Home, and another to feel at home in the Church. Often it takes a bit of time for people to find their place in a parish. They are not used to Catholic culture, especially if it is a large parish. Sometimes they feel very alone, surrounded by people who can seem indifferent to them. Added to this is that very often, spouses, adult children and other friends and family members, who hold onto anti-Catholic beliefs, can make a new Catholic’s life very difficult. In addition, clergy who enter the Church many times find themselves unemployed with no means to support their family. We do all that we can to encourage and support them through their time of struggles and transition.
How have your roles changed since you first started with The Coming Home Network back in 2001?
Jim: I have worn many hats and have had many titles since I first began working with the Coming Home Network 22 years ago. For many years I screened and scheduled the guests for The Journey Home. I also ministered to the non-Catholic clergy who contacted CHNetwork seeking assistance with their journey to the Catholic Church. Most recently, I have the pleasure of assisting all male lay people who contact us who wish to learn about the Catholic faith. I also manage all of the new incoming emails that are sent to our apostolate. In addition, I run the teleprompter when we record episodes of The Journey Home.
We’re very grateful for Jim’s experience and expertise here at The Coming Home Network! And we’re thrilled that he’s been able to help so many of our members in so many ways over the past two-plus decades.