Now That You’re A Convert

Photography by Andy Coan

So, you finally got up the nerve.  At last, reservation after reservation was entertained and dismissed, and you took the risk of potentially alienating family members and provoking uncomfortable questions from co-workers.  You decided to become the kind of member of the Catholic Church that will be known forever as the few, the odd, the converts.

When it’s used as a noun, the emphasis is on the first syllable; when it’s used as a verb, the emphasis is on the last syllable.  In either case, when it comes to Catholicism, if you conVERT, even if you stay Catholic for the next fifty years of your life, you will always be known as a CONvert.  Because of the culturally Catholic climate in many urban centers in the United States, it can be an extremely normal thing in some communities to be Catholic, but an extremely odd thing to actually become Catholic.

If you are a convert, expect to be asked probing questions about it every time you’re introduced as one.  Unless you converted to appease your in-laws, chances are you have a thousand reasons for becoming Catholic; the person asking only wants one or two.  Do what I do: give a different answer every time.  Not only do you have the fun of keeping people guessing; you also have the thrill of revisiting all of those “aha!” moments that got you to finally sum up the nerve to sign on the dotted line.

Cradle Catholics often attest that converts know more about their faith than most Catholics.  Depending on a particular convert’s path to the Catholic Church, this may or may not be the case.  Those who have read their way into the Church by studying the Church Fathers and other Catholic thinkers tend to come from an evangelical Protestant background, and tend to bring evangelical Protestant fervor into the Church with them.  Because Catholicism requires such a high level of commitment, a great number of converts (including those who are hounded to convert by their spouses) tend to do their homework before entering the Church, in contrast with the many cradle Catholics who never did their homework in Catholic school.

Cradle Catholics will often tell you that you know more than those who have been Catholic for a lifetime; get used to being seen as a bit of a novelty from time to time.  Whatever you do, don’t get cocky; you know, deep down, that you didn’t know everything you had to know before you agreed to become Catholic- more likely, you know that you knew just enough to know that Catholicism had the answers to all the nagging questions that you saw unfulfilled in your life as a non-Catholic.  There will be a temptation to either assume that the Church is right about everything from here on out, and stop searching, or to wonder if you’ve made the right decision, and treat Catholicism like a club you’ve joined but don’t have to agree with in every respect.  The fact of the matter is, Catholicism is an awful lot like marriage; rather than closing yourself off to all other options, you’ve opened up a world of possibility based on a “yes” to God’s call rather than a mere “no” to all the things you’ve found dissatisfying to this point.  Conversion is not the end of the discovery phase; it is the beginning.  To fully live the reality, of your conversion, you have to see it as your chance to embrace Christ’s call to approach him as a child; with more questions than you’ve ever had, but also with more trust than you’ve ever had to accompany that inquiry.

Please help us in our mission to assist readers to integrate their Catholic faith, family and work.  Share this article with your family and friends via email and social media.  We value your comments and encourage you to leave your thoughts below.  Thank you!  – The Editors

Print this entry

3 Comments

  1. Matt,

    I connected with your article in a meaningful way. I converted to the Church in 2006 after 23 years in the “spiritual wilderness”, a period in my life when I had no real faith after leaving the Baptist church as a teenager. I am frequently asked about my conversion and much like you, I sense a feeling of amazement from the others that I made the decision to convert. If you are truly seeking Truth, your journey will inevitably lead you to the Catholic Church.

    Being part of the Church is a gift and I believe one of the positive things Converts hopefully provide for our fellow Catholics is a sense of awe and appreciation for that gift. I know I feel this way and am grateful my family and I became part of the Church.

    Thank you for your insights!

    God bless,

    Randy

  2. Matt,
    Being a cradle Catholic I have been taught so much by these converts. These people have been part of my CONversion as an adult because of seeing their joy. I encourage all the adult “Cradle” Catholics out there to go and study your faith. There is so much more to be discovered than was taught to us back in the 70’s & 80’s as children. So many outlets provide resources; from local Bible study to the Integrated Catholic Life, USCCB.com and many other on-line resources. The Church has found its post-Vatican II stride. I encourage people to start searching again and you will find the child-like joy that we see in these Converts.

    Keep up the good works.
    Peace be with you
    Greg

  3. Matt,

    I was really happy to see this article this morning. Although not officially a convert yet (I’ll be going through RCIA next year) I already have to field this question of “Why” a lot. As well I know when I ask some of the harder questions cradle Catholics are often surprised about how much thought I’ve given the topic. It’s all so exciting!

    God Bless,

    Michael

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *