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Why Catholic, Why Not?

April 24, AD2016 2 Comments

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“So much of what I had learned as a Protestant was opinion, hearsay, and rumor. When I read the Early Church Fathers, I found that they were Catholic in their ecclesiology and theology, and this forced me to study what the Catholic Church said about itself. When I learned the truth, I then became accountable to God for it, and I joyfully became Catholic.” – Jennie F., Catholic Converts

“I think seeing religion compatible with science and with genuine ethics and morals and rational apologetics brought me to the Church.” – Eric A., Catholic Converts

“Ready??? Here it goes… The Holy Eucharist is 100% Jesus Christ’s true body and blood.” – Rocky B., friend

“I was born one. My mom made me stay one. The things I read and studied made me a reborn one.” – Amadeo G., Catholic Geeks

“My grandmother was a persecuted Catholic in war-torn Germany. She immigrated to Canada and continued to practice her Catholic faith. It’s a part of my blood.” – Jessica S., Catholic Geeks

“We Roman Catholics must do as Jesus did. We must walk with others in Jesus’ footsteps—wherever that takes us.” – James R., Catholic Geeks

“With ‘scripture alone’ there is no way to arbitrate disputes about [the] important areas. (In my case it was Law and Grace.)” – Laura W., Theology of the Body 3

“Why am I a Catholic? What else could I be? You see, the Lord has touched my mind. And he told me, ‘I Love Thee.'” – Judy A., Why I am a TRUE Catholic

Nearly a month ago, while considering the subject of my latest article, I made an interesting discovery. A large number of my friends in the Church are either converts or reverts. And as I continued to ask, I learned more about their various conversion and reversion stories. Speaking personally, as a Catholic revert, I found this to be astonishing.

Like many Catholics, whenever I heard about dwindling church attendance or people walking away from their faith, my heart sank. But, at the same time, I noticed the amount of people taking part in RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) and converting to Catholicism. So that made me wonder: Maybe all these new people are replacing the ones who have left. Maybe this is what Jesus meant when he used the parable of the Sower in Mark 4: 3-9?

Before setting out on writing this article, I put together a little questionnaire and shared it with various Facebook groups along with e-mailing my friends. I truly wanted to know five things:

Question 1: Why would or did you become Catholic?

Question 2: If you are a former Catholic, why did you leave?

Question 3: What does it mean to be Catholic, in today’s world?

Question 4: What’s the difference between Protestants and Catholics?

Question 5: What issues or doctrines do you agree or disagree with the Catholic Church?

I was overjoyed with the response I got. Within a week, I had collected almost 50 pages’ worth of answers.

In addition, I also did online research to find out how many new people are being welcomed into the Catholic Church. According to TheCatholicMiscellany, as of March 24, 2016, 25,073 people have become Catholic. And that’s just in the United States!

Another report I read in The Splendor of the Church said that, in South Korea, over 100,000 new converts joined the Church in the last year—adding considerably to that country’s Catholic population of 5.65 million.

While sorting through the answers to my questionnaire, I found that many agreed completely with Church doctrines and teachings. Of the ones who objected, most disagreed with the Church’s stance on issues ranging from homosexual unions and birth control to divorce and annulments. Some felt that people in the Church need to be better at evangelizing.

Evangelization seems to be an odd word to many Catholics today. What pops into your mind when you hear it? Maybe someone going door to door with a Bible in hand? Or someone asking people on the street “Do you know Jesus”? Or someone holding up a sign at a football game with John 3:16 written on it? While all of these are certainly ways of evangelizing, they aren’t the only ways.

In recent years, programs like ChristLife and Dynamic Catholic have strived to equip, educate, and inspire Catholics to be on fire for their faith. In their unique ways, they are helping Catholics live and participate in The New Evangelization.

Happily, in my own parish, St. Joseph in Hanover, PA, we are participating in both of these programs. It is such a joy to see so many Catholics enlightened, inspired, and encouraged to share their faith with one another. That is because evangelization goes so much deeper than just telling others about Christ. It involves looking at our owns lives (warts and all); seeing how Christ’s love, mercy, and grace have transformed us; and then living in such a way that the world sees Jesus in us.

I would like to give a heartfelt thanks to the hundreds of people who took part in my questionnaire. May you continue to have hearts that burn for Christ.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Paul is happily married. Both he and his wife, Marjorie, reside on the border between Pennsylvania and Maryland. They're eager first-time owners of a house. He is the Youth Ministry Leader for Fusion at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Abbottstown, PA, as well as an activities director at a nearby retirement community. Ever the creative type, Paul is an avid writer, actor, filmmaker, artist, and musician. He's also extremely passionate about his Catholic faith.

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