I was baptized and confirmed in a nominally Catholic home. My dad’s 30-year career in the U.S. military and the diplomatic service led us overseas among many moves as our 6-child family grew up, spending years in Panama, Cuba, and Colombia. Despite a Jesuit education into high school, by the time we returned to Washington, D.C. in the late 1960s, I was a high school student growing rapidly disillusioned with my faith and with the Catholic Church.
I chose to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church when it became apparent to me that I no longer could confess the Creed, in which I made the claim to believe in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church and not be in communion with the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter, and Pastor of the universal Church.
As a cradle Catholic who followed his wife into the Episcopal Church, Francis Jacobs realized he was “a Roman Catholic who happened to attend an Episcopal church.”
I have to begin my conversion story by relating something of my family life. My father worked for the government as an air traffic controller. They transferred him wherever they wished even though he had a family. So, we moved from state to state when I was a little girl. My youngest brother and I were born in Minnesota, our home state. I was born in 1948 in Minnesota and baptized October 31 that same year in Selma, Alabama, which tells how often we moved. My other brother and sister were each born in a different Southern state. Because of our constant moving, establishing a stable spiritual home was quite difficult for us.
At this very moment in our lives a long-time Evangelical friend and pastor announced to us, “Steve, my wife and I have decided to join the Catholic Church.” Janet and I were stunned. I immediately blurted out, “Al, that is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard; you are way too smart to be a Catholic!”
“Learning about Catholicism, after being schooled by Protestants, I felt like I had only been allowed to view little random pieces of incredible artwork. It is only now that I understand the pieces were a single, beautiful masterpiece.” After a rocky childhood, Alicia joined the US Navy, which brought about stability and order in her life. Life in the Navy prepared her for life in an unexpected place: the Catholic Church.
Tania was raised in a devout Seventh-day Adventist home and persevered in her faith through college. She was certain she “knew” her Christianity until her nominally Catholic husband insisted their kids complete the Sacraments in the Catholic Church. Tania was in for a life-changing surprise!
Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D., is a former minister of the Episcopal Church. In 1963 he was received with his wife, Ruth, and their five children into the Catholic Church. Twenty years later, he was ordained to the priesthood of the Catholic Church, with a dispensation from the rule of celibacy. Currently, he serves as chaplain for Catholics United for the Faith and on the boards of both that apostolate and The Coming Home Network. He is also a regular columnist for The Catholic Answer Magazine, and he serves as an assistant at St. Peter’s Church in Steubenville, Ohio.
My story began as a cradle Anglican, which means I have been surrounded by beautiful words of prayer my whole life. As long as I can remember I have come into God’s presence on the Lord’s day praying “Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known and from whom no secrets are hid: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy Holy Name.” Each week we approached Holy Communion praying “Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his Blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his Body and our souls washed through his most precious Blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us” (The Book of Common Prayer).