My Catholic Conversion Story

My Catholic Conversion Story

 

I converted to Catholicism at the Easter Vigil in 2007, just days before running my first Boston Marathon. This is the short version of how that came to be.

Just after Thanksgiving in 2005, my Mother-in-Law passed away as a result of a tragic accident. My husband, who was Active Duty with the U.S. Army at the time, was preparing to deploy to Afghanistan. As a result of his mother’s death, he received a delayed reporting date of March 2006.

At the time of my Mother-in-Law’s death, I was employed as a Human Resources Specialist at Fort Drum, NY. Feeling overwhelmed and wanting to be closer to family during my husband’s deployment, I sought out employment in the midwest (primarily Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan). As luck would have it, I secured a reassignment to Fort McCoy, WI, the interview for which came just a couple of days after my husband deployed.

Now, I must explain that going to Fort McCoy was like coming “home” for a couple of reasons. First, I was born in Wisconsin (in Burlington, closer to the Milwaukee side of the state). Second, the first duty station that my husband was assigned to after we married was Fort McCoy. We spent two years here before moving on to Fort Wainwright, AK (for three years) and then Fort Drum, NY (for eight years).

During his time at Fort McCoy in the 1990’s (1993-1995), my husband worked with a retired Army veteran turned civilian. As this was my only connection left to Fort McCoy, he…well, actually his wife…was the first person I contacted upon securing employment there. Although I hadn’t seen or been in contact with them for years, they opened both their hearts and home to me, as well as my two dogs, and one cat (luckily for me, they also run a kennel and grooming business :))

While I simultaneously sold our home in New York state and bought a new home in Wisconsin, I stayed with my old-new again friends and accompanied them to various events, including a barn dance sponsored by St. Patrick’s Parish in Sparta, WI. It turns out that this particular event – during the end summer of 2006 – would be absolutely life-changing!

You see, up until the night of that barn dance, I had come up with just about every excuse in the book to NOT to accept their invites to church. It just wasn’t my thing at the time – I was spiritual, but not religious – if you catch my drift. Then, came that barn dance.

Ah, yes, THAT barn dance. You see, I lost a jacket at that barn dance. Not just any jacket, but a Boilermaker 15K race jacket from a venue in New York state. At the time, it was nearly as coveted as the Boston Marathon jacket that I would eventually earn the right to wear in April 2007. I absolutely LOVED that jacket.

So, anyway, about the jacket. It wasn’t until we were getting ready to go that I noticed it was missing. We searched high and low to no avail. And while it seemed silly to think that someone would purposefully steal a jacket from a church-sponsored event, I couldn’t completely rule it out. After all, it WAS a pretty cool jacket!

Fast forward to the next day, which just happened to be Sunday. Again, the invite to church was extended and again I declined. But, something (someone?) prompted me to reply with the following challenge: “I tell you what, you find my jacket from last night, and I’ll go with you to church every week until I move into my new house.”

Upon their returning home from mass, I was greeted with the biggest, “You are NOT going to believe this” that I’ve ever heard in my life. It turns out that someone – whom they had never, ever seen before in THEIR lives – came up to them after mass and asked them if they had lost a jacket. They responded that they hadn’t, but they knew who had (meaning, me).

That, my friends, was the beginning of the end of my non-Catholic life. As promised, I attended church with my friends until I moved into my new house. But, it didn’t stop there, of course. I wouldn’t otherwise have a conversion story, right?

The message that I received at every Sunday’s homily turned out to be exactly what I needed to hear. I can’t explain it. I can’t deny it. I have no way to reason that it wasn’t meant to be – for me.

Now, seven years later, I am raising five kids in the Catholic faith while strengthening my own. This blog is my {im}perfect journey toward the goal of becoming a more Christ-centered Catholic.



2 thoughts on “My Catholic Conversion Story”

  • Agh! I love conversion stories. I’ve never written mine down on my blog, but it’s on my floating around there somewhere to do someday list.

    We should meet in LaCrosse with all of the kids at a park someday. I bet my friend from Cashton would join us 🙂

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