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Anglican & EpiscopalianConversion Stories

I Never Dreamed I’d Be Married to a Catholic Priest!

Ruth Ryland May 13, 2011 No Comments

I certainly never dreamed I’d be married to a Roman Catholic priest!

The thirteen years my husband Ray served as an Episcopal priest were exciting, fulfilling years. We had both come from a Disciples of Christ background, and we found the intellectual and liturgical ethos of the Episcopal Church very satisfying. Our five children came along during that period.

We loved the people in the various parishes and the school where Ray served. The people were great, good people who struggled along with us to live the Christian life. There were, of course, the usual ups and downs, joys and sorrows of living and serving. But through it all, we felt most blessed by our Lord in all the important ways.

Through these years of study, prayer, and simply living with God’s people, we gradually moved to a more “catholic” view of the Church (from “low church” to “high church”). There began a search for the historical “roots” of the Church. We became more and more aware of conflicting views and teachings in the Episcopal Church, not only in doctrinal matters but in moral ones as well. Some teachings were quite heretical.

Questions arose: Who was right? Which were the teachings faithful to the Gospel? Who was to say which teachings were true or false? Where was the locus of authority?

When we began to see where the search was leading, we resisted. We did not want to go. We did not want to turn our comfortable life upside down. We did not want to go into the “unknown,” into a “foreign land.”

We loved the Episcopal Church and all it meant to us: the people, the beautiful churches, the grand music, and the liturgy. Then there were all the questions about how to support our family and how we could leave dear friends. (When we entered the Church, we knew not even one Catholic, only the two priests who instructed us.) What about our families who would grieve and be shocked that we had “lost our minds”?

Those who have traveled this road know all about the sufferings. And yet, and yet … we could hear the insistent beat of the “following feet” of the Hound of Heaven as He pursued, keeping His steady and unhurried pace.

When the Holy Spirit showed us, through sheer grace, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the Catholic Church is indeed the true Church, founded by Jesus Christ Himself on the Rock of Peter, could we say anything but “Yes!” to Him? Praise be to Jesus Christ for His mercy and grace!

In 1963, together with our five young children, we were received into the Catholic Church. We had truly come home. In those days, it was rather rare for a Protestant clergyman to take that step. Except for the angels and archangels, we had no one with whom to celebrate our joy. But joy it was and is.

Dear brothers and sisters who are on the Way, or contemplating the Way: The path may be dark for you, the problems seemingly insurmountable, the sufferings great. But if you are looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith, you can be certain of this: He will never betray your trust. Trust Him.

Ruth Ryland

Ruth Ryland and (the late) Father Ray Ryland (see Fr. Ray’s conversion story here) celebrated their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary. They have five children and twenty-two grandchildren.

This story appears in the book Journeys Home, edited by Marcus Grodi (CHResources, rev. ed., 2011). To order the book, click

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