BaptistConversion Stories

Deacon Bill Jarrell: Former Southern Baptist

August 23, 2010 No Comments

Growing up in a Southern Baptist household in the pre-dominantly Catholic culture of New Orleans was, as Deacon Bill Jarrell would later find out, part of his faith formation.  He loved his active participation in the Baptist life, sometimes attending church services and activities four times a week.  But the apparent unanswered prayers to make the varsity baseball team, coupled with the thinly-veiled racism of his congregation, led Deacon Bill to abandon his trust in God.  Several failed attempts at college, then military life eventually brought Deacon Bill into a career as a helicopter pilot for an oil company in the Gulf of Mexico.  Marriage to a devout Catholic woman and the birth of two sons began to shape him as a man and reawaken his spiritual sense.  When a kidnapped girl for whom he had offered prayers was found unharmed two weeks later, it moved Deacon Bill deeply.  He began reading the early Church Fathers and began to be pulled toward conversion to the Catholic Church.  Subsequently, with his wife’s battle with cancer and his retirement, Deacon Bill was able to discern his call to the Diaconate, currently serving in prison ministry.