I was raised in a small-town, Southern Baptist church in Virginia where I, along with my sister, my two brothers, and our parents, attended Sunday School and church nearly every Sunday that I can remember. In my early teen years, I responded to a preacher’s invitation to accept Christ as my Lord and Savior and was baptized. The experience of the waters of baptism seemed to be one of re-birth. I felt as though my sins were washed away and there was a new beginning and opportunity for me ahead. However, I did not experience much growth in grace during my later high school years and I went away to college in 1970 very disappointed with my hometown and the Christians that I knew.
Growing up a cradle Catholic in Argentina, Ercy Joy Ghiringhelli had a powerful experience with Jesus in the Eucharist. However, over the course of life, she became attracted by revival in Protestant churches. She eventually became an ordained Nazarene pastor and worked with the sick and suffering, until flipping channels one day, she came across an episode of The Journey Home.
Ron Moffat, a former Scots Calvinist recalls his journey into the Catholic Church. “Peter said simply, ‘Lord to whom shall we go?’ I knew in my heart, there was nowhere else I could go if I wanted a faith that wasn’t subject to change depending on the latest intellectual fads. I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing, but if I wasn’t, I knew there was no better alternative.”
My story begins in a naval hospital in Pittsburgh, California, where I was born to an 18-year-old girl and her 19-year-old husband. My parents were believers and we attended the Nazarene church close to our house.. I do remember that my mother used to turn on the TV to do her daily workouts with Jack LaLanne, and just before he came on, there was a show with a man wearing a cap, a large cross on a chain, and he wore a cape that he threw around as he talked. His eyes burned into the camera! Later I would learn that his name was Archbishop Fulton Sheen.
Over the next few years of talking to [my friend] about what he was studying, I slowly began to understand the TULIP doctrines and I realized that I didn’t actually agree with any of them. As a good Protestant, I knew that I could question every tenet of the faith that I had been brought up in and still be a good Christian, so as I gradually began to doubt Calvinism, I never questioned my relationship with God, nor His love for me.
My father was the pastor of a few different churches throughout Ohio and West Virginia during this time. He began as a Pentecostal minister, and would later go on to pastor a Baptist church. My father never attended a seminary, although he received his preaching credentials under the teaching of another Evangelist via postal-mail. I remember as a young girl, my father worked hard at his biblical studies. He continued to work full-time as a carpenter to provide a decent living for his family, but on many evenings, he would slave over a stack of books for long hours.
I grew up in Trinidad, in the West Indies, of British parentage. My parents were delightful people, loved by me and by everyone else who knew them. They were baptized Christians and lived as Christians should: helping others when necessary and sharing with those who needed it; but like many non-Catholics in those days, attending church regularly was not considered necessary. My two sisters and myself were baptized Anglicans, confirmed when we reached the proper age and as younger children were sent to Sunday school. Our parents attended church services on Easter Sunday, Christmas morning, and perhaps twice otherwise during the year. As we grew older, we stopped attending Sunday school, and only went to church when our parents did. We were believers but religion did not play an important role in our lives.
I was raised in a family that was steeped in the Assemblies of God (AG) tradition. My grandfather, Marvin Gorman, was the pastor of the largest AG church in the state of Louisiana with around four to six thousand people in attendance every Sunday. As an adult, I was a third generation minister in an Assemblies of God (AG) turned non-denominational church in Ruston, Louisiana.
Even as a sophomore I knew that I wanted to attend Notre Dame. Its Catholic identity wasn’t really a factor at all; its academic reputation, quality of student life (as reported by Princeton Review), and the memories of my first visit there drove my decision. I didn’t know what to make of Catholicism at all. One of the essays on the Notre Dame application dealt with a “spiritual topic” of our choosing. I chose to write about my impressions of Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.