In this series, readers share their stories about what led them to join the Catholic Church. If you have a story to tell, why not send it in to us? It could touch someone else who needs to hear God’s voice in his or her life.
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In 1994 a movement swept across the Pentecostal landscape; it was ‘The Toronto Blessing’.
The Pentecostal church I attended embraced this blessing with the attendant “signs and wonders” associated with it.
I could not reconcile the “signs and wonders” which consisted of people baying like animals, laughing hysterically and uncontrollably with the order and beauty of the ways of Christ and his apostles.
I asked my pastor for biblical justification of this ‘blessing”. I was handed, a few days later, a photocopy of a photocopy of a list of texts from the bible that apparently gave justification for the blessing.
I am an engineer and so I am trained to critically evaluate and use analytical thinking to arrive at conclusions based on evidence. It seemed to me that the texts quoted were too far-fetched to be generous, and to be misleading to be more precise.
I asked him where the authority for these justifications come from? The answer was, to me, unsatisfactory.
In 1985 I married my wife – my one and only! She was (and is) a “cradle Catholic” and a faithful one at that. We had many “discussions” about our faiths; some, on my part, without charity. Of course, being an engineer, I had studied the facts – but had I?
In 1993 we went to Perth for my work. With three young children, we embraced the new work opportunity as an adventure.
The adventure was one that I had not anticipated. My wife, Donna, had brought with her a number of cassette tapes recorded by Scott Hahn (remember cassette tapes?).
She said that I should listen to them, so I did. I was impressed to say the least, but not a convert on the spot. There was more research to be done.
I was raised in the Churches of Christ, a noble movement of Christian people who wanted to follow Christ and his teachings, not polluted by any “teachings of man”.
The churches I attended were populated by people with big hearts and a desire to serve Christ and his people.
I was baptised in 1972 as a 12-year-old who responded to the invitation to accept Christ as my Lord and Saviour.
I remember my mother shed tears of joy when I was receiving the post invitation counselling from the pastor.
I grew as a Christian, but there was always something “missing”.
About 1984 I was introduced to the Pentecostal movement by a work colleague, very forceful in his views and very convinced that the Pentecostal movement was restoring Christianity to the way it was when Christ and his apostles taught it. So naturally I had to have a closer look; which I did.
So, I embarked on an interlude where I pursued my faith through the Pentecostal movement. Until 1994 that is.
Having received unsatisfactory answers I started my own research, again, with the aid of Scot Hahn cassettes.
But this time I listened with renewed attentiveness.
I also conducted my own research into the Church Fathers.
Knowing that the most accurate information comes from those most closely associated with the events, it was obvious to me that if the Catholic faith was the right one then the Church Fathers would shed light on this.
And so, my conversion came down to three issues.
Firstly, for the Church to be authentic it needed to have authority. For the 40,000 odd Christian churches there cannot be one authority, as they are all different. The only one with authority in its teaching is the Catholic church. Through St Peter and his successors there is a line of authority that illuminates the truth.
The second issue is that the teachings of the Church Fathers are the same as the teachings of the Catholic Church today.
Simple reading of the Fathers showed that the Church of the first few centuries teaches the same as the Church today.
The third issue came from one of Scott Hahn’s cassettes. The series was entitled The Fourth Cup, a study on the Last Supper. The words that struck me were that, in order for the sacrifice to be complete, you must eat the sacrifice.
And so, after receiving instructions in the faith, on the feast of Leo the Great, pope and doctor, I was received into the Church by Fr John O’Neill at Saint John Vianney’s Doonside on 10 November 1995.