When people find out that my husband and I are both Catholic converts they are often amazed. It’s usually followed by “you both converted?! neither one of you was Catholic?” and people wanting to sit us down and hear some grand story. I don’t feel like there is some great story. I mean, any conversion story is great because of the path you take and the end result. But there isn’t anything book worthy here if you know what I mean.
I started thinking about what started my journey to the Catholic church and I thought it began in the summer of 2004. But then I remembered that it probably all started before 2004. Growing up my mom made sure to take us to church so we could get confirmed. We were Lutheran and she felt it was important. After confirmation I started to get more involved with the social aspect of church. My best friend in high school and I would go to youth group every week and as soon as we could drive we attended church together too. I can clearly remember standing in church reciting the Nicene Creed and where it said “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.” the word Catholic was changed out for the word Christian and there was a little note about “catholic=universal church“. It was the first time that I realized that the Lutheran church originated in the Catholic church. I probably was supposed to learn that in my years of confirmation classes but for some reason it never was internalized like it was when I read it in the creed.
I have some (not practicing and practicing) Catholic family and I can’t help but feel that this part of my history is etched on my soul somewhere. I also dated a boy in high school who had a practicing Catholic family and I attended mass with them a few times. Most notably was Christmas Eve midnight mass and I was in awe of the beauty, the reverence. And I wondered why I couldn’t participate in everything like all of the Catholic people in the church could.
So I started college in August of 1999. I moved in to the dorms, met Kelly, and we quickly started dating. Our sophomore year of college we started attending some classes at the Newman Center on the UNL campus. We were both interested in learning more about why the Lutheran and Catholic churches were separated. I think we went once or twice and then quit when we realized we were supposed to be going to mass on Sunday mornings. It’s hard to wake up for mass when you are going out Saturday night and sleeping until noon the next day.
So Kelly and I dated and got married and after college in 2003 we moved to Connecticut. It was beautiful and fun and we traveled into New York City and had fun exploring and I was completely homesick the entire time. We moved back to Nebraska in 2004 and attended the wedding of some of our friends from college in July. We also went to a baptism for my sister’s brand new baby boy. Both were held in a Catholic Church, and while I don’t think either had a direct impact on our conversion – we didn’t leave the wedding/baptism and say We Are Going to Be Catholic – I do think that both had some influence on opening up the thinking and researching and discovering again.
I was attending college again (still trying to finish up that English degree) and I had a lot of anxiety about our future. I wasn’t anxious about where we lived or being married to Kelly. But I was anxious about who I was, what I was going to do with my life. We had a plan that we would tell everyone and that was that we would start thinking about having kids around age 30 and have two kids and be done. One would be a boy and one would be a girl and I would stay home with them. And here I was trying to figure out what to do with my life until we had those perfect children. Across the street from the university is the church we attended in Omaha and I would park in their lot to walk to class. I felt drawn to that church. Inexplicably (the Holy Spirit?) I would go to that church and just sit in the cold pew. Often times on my knees. Often times crying. I started reading the Surprised By Truth… series that summer and I told Kelly “I maybe think we should maybe think about maybe attending RCIA this fall. Maybe.”