I am a convert.
My family's church attendance was pretty spotty while I was growing up. When I was little, I remember going to some churches that I would now describe as charismatic. I remember people praying with their arms raised up and faces turned up to God. I remember being scared as I watched grown-ups praying, singing, crying, and sometimes chanting in a language that I did not understand and sometimes falling on the ground.
As I got older, our family settled into a Pentecostal Holiness church ~ mostly because my Aunt was very active in this church and made sure that our family made it to church, too. God Bless Her. But around the age of 12, my parents and my brothers stopped going to church. Thankfully, my dad continued to bring me to church. He would drive me in to town on Sunday mornings for Sunday school and for church service and again on Wednesday nights so I could attend youth group. This church was very instrumental in my faith journey and in growing in my knowledge of Scripture. I still have lifelong friends from there.
But let me explain how I became Catholic.
I'd never heard of the Catholic church. I didn't know what it was. One day, when I was in the 7th or 8th grade, I came home and my mom was watching TV. No other shows were on except for live coverage of this one event. This was back in the days when TV's only had 3 channels and PBS. And all three channels were covering this event. So, no after school cartoons for us. I asked my mom what she was watching and she told me about this place called the Catholic Church, the Vatican and a Pope who had just died and that Catholic Church was voting for a new Pope.
What's a pope? Well, he's the leader of the Catholic Church and they elect a new one when the Pope dies.
What's the Catholic Church. It's a church and the Pope is their leader. It's one of the oldest churches in the world.
And all of this from my mom who was raised Southern Baptist and then became Pentecostal Holiness and then wasn't anything for a long time. What I remember about that conversation was that my mom was very matter of fact about what was going on. There was no negativity, no condemnation, no judgement. This was my first exposure to the Catholic Church.
And this was the first time I really felt like I was being called to become Catholic. As I grew, I heard more about the Catholic Church and a lot of it was not nice. I remember my pastor being excited everytime we had visitors who "used to be Catholic". I didn't understand at the time why that excited some people. I do now. But, negative comments about the Catholic Church only caused to raise my couriosity.
God was still calling me.
So that was the first spark, my first memory of the Catholic Church. And it came from my Mom.