Joy Stories

Allison GingrasMy Grace Trifecta – An invitation to a retreat began Allison’s realization that God was real. Other invitations and gifts nurtured her great awakening during her continual conversion. She developed a sacramental, scriptural and prayer-filled Christian life, three elements comprising her Grace Trifecta, which makes her life complete.

Andy LaValleeLive the Fast – Baker Andrew LaValle discovered “Our Lady is the FedEx to her Son.” He found his purpose in life and founded the Live the Fast apostolate after he experienced a reconversion to the Catholic Church in Medjugorje.

Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, SOLTLiving Encounters – Discouraged by broken romantic relationships, Anne Marie sensed Mary’s presence and prayed, “Make me fall in love with God.” An encounter with Jesus in a blizzard drew her to confession. Jesus gave her back the vocation she had as a child and where she has served for more than 30 years.

Ben Ewing – A Father’s Perspective – Ben tells the anguish of seeing his second child born with webfeet, mitten hands and a pronounced forehead caused by Apert Syndrome. His selfish, egotistical side clashed with the humble and providence-seeking side, shattering his spirit. God reordered his life, teaching him to love unconditionally.

Bill AlexanderSaved by Don Quixote From New Jersey to Texas, Bill Alexander recounts his transformation from a backward insecure child raised in a Protestant alcoholic family to a vibrant convert with a deep love for God after a Marriage Encounter. Like the love Don Quixote showered on Dulcinea, Jesus just engulfed  Bill with unconditional love and mercy.

Brian Gill Why I became Catholic – Brian became Catholic by choice because of childhood curiosity, marrying a Catholic woman and finding answers that made sense about contraception, papal authority and universality.

Catherine QuinnI was a pagan, hedonistic, man-hating feminist. But now I’m Catholic. This Is my story  – Abused, jockeyed between orphanages and parents, Catherine became angry with God. She was lost in a destructive spiral of no joy. She read about Katherine of Aragon’s fierce loyalty to the Catholic Church, went to Mass and quickly to RCIA and found the friend she had in Jesus as a child.RCIA and found the friend she had in Jesus as a child.

Cheryl Ann WillsJourneys to Peace – Cheryl grew up Presbyterian and led a worldly lifestyle until she hit bottom and ran back to Jesus. She married a man who pastored a small church but that idyllic life couldn’t fill her emptiness. She studied the Catechism and knew she had to become Catholic.

Colleen SpiroFrom Communion to Eucharist Colleen Spiro tells how receiving communion as a Protestant grew into loving the Eucharist and converting to the Catholic Church, becoming a Catholic blogger, Benedictine Oblate and certified spiritual director.

Connie BeckmanMary, our Mother, teach us to pray – Connie, distraught with her mother’s terminal cancer, ask the Blessed Mother to intercede for them. After a near-fatal scene at the hospital, Connie sat in the car and prayed. Through her tears she saw a glowing statue of Mary and knew she was watching over them. The next day the statue was gone, but not Connie’s peace.

Cyndi LuckyMy Restless Heart – Cyndi tried to fill the void in her life with everything Scripture warns against. Only One could fill it with the love and tenderness her restless heart desired. Raised as a Baptist, she converted after a conversion experience during her son’s Confirmation and was received into the Church after a long annulment process.

Cyndi Marlow God is a User – Raised unchurched, God used Cyndi’s fascination with metaphysics to reach out to her one night and connect with the depths of her soul. He used her co-worker to guide her toward the Catholic Church.

Diane Roe – Amazing Grace – Many deaths in her family led Diane to live it up in college, marry too young and soon divorce. Her second marriage and lifestyle was not pleasing to God. It took the loss of her job, death of her dad, move to Texas and marital discord for her to cry out to the Lord for help. She felt a big comforting hug engulf her as she slept. The next day she found a support group and a spiritual mentor that helped her develop a personal relationship with Jesus.

Elizabeth ReardonConversion – This Journey of a Lifetime  – A young Southern Baptist girl found herself walking in the doors of a Catholic church and finding the presence of God and her life forever changed.

Faith Roberts Reversion at Passover – During her slow return to the Catholic Church, Faith went to a Seder meal with a Jewish friend. The prayers reminded her of the Catholic Mass, giving her a new respect for the Church that had protected, cherished and passed down Passover, as the Last Supper for 2000 years. Passover brought her back home.

Gloria CastroSharing Your Faith Story with othersGloria’s faith journey began when a Baptist minister tried everything to share Jesus with her. He finally asked her to read the Sinner’s Prayer, declaring to God that she relied on Jesus Christ as my Savior. Now she trains Catholic retreat leaders to share their faith stories.

Jennifer FitzA Southern Style Reversion: Evangelization in the Deep South – A cradle Catholic who strayed in college, married in a civil ceremony and spent years in the spiritual cafeteria, Jen’s unhappiness culminated when she could not feel the presence of God in a mission church. The couple became Sunday Evangelicals, with her attending Mass occasionally. When she tried to reconcile the two theologies on salvation with a co-worker, he led her to commit her life to God with the Sinner’s Prayer. The Holy Spirit immediately filled her with an overwhelming desire to get to Mass.

Karl Erickson A Thirst for Reverence – From Lutheran and Baptist to Episcopal, Karl and his wife visited dozens of denominations searching for the right church. Catholic Mass surprised them and through RCIA God encircled them with knowledgeable people to answer their troubling questions and welcomed them into the Church.RCIA God encircled them with knowledgeable people to answer their troubling questions and welcomed them into the Church.

Kathy Szymanski  – Life and a Marathon – Cancer patient Kathy shares her marathon journal and faith story of running the Honolulu Marathon and how it parallels life and a religious journey. 

Linda Schubert“Jesus Loves Me”Miracle Hour author Linda Schubert shares her conversion story from childhood “Jesus loves me” song, through a difficult marriage, to her commitment to the Lord through a TV evangelist, preparation for the sacraments and the realization of all that the love of Jesus means to her heart.

Lyn MettlerHow I Came to Conversion – Lyn was a 30+-year nonbeliever who never dreamed she’d be Catholic and passionately so! Even though she was adverse to Catholicism, she experienced her “calling” in 2011 and was suddenly given the eyes of faith to believe in Jesus as the Son of God without proof to her logical mind.

Margaret ReveiraNo Perfect Church – In the midst of an emotional crisis, Margaret accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior in March 1984.  She thought she had known him previously but soon realized that parish activities did not equate to the intimacy that was necessary for her to pursue that personal relationship with him.

Marie Therese Kceif  – The story behind Eve’s Apple – From farm life in Wisconsin, Marie Kceif went on to have a varied full life. She searched for love and her role in life through the US Army and unhealthy relationships. She surrendered her life to God, found redemption in the Catholic Church and became a Bible study leader, RCIA guide, lector and writer.RCIA guide, lector and writer.

Bishop Mark J. SeitzA Wistful Summer’s Dream Becomes Reality  – In that graced moment when 8-year-old Mark stood in his sunny yard in Hartland, Wisconsin, and thought adventurously about his life’s vocation, three options emerged: a fireman, a doctor or a priest. Mark remembers clearly that moment of insight and how it helped spur years of prayer and discernment that brought the joy and fulfillment he has experienced as a priest and bishop.

Melanie Jean JuneauA Physical Healing? Really? –  At a non-denominational conference for Sunday School teachers, Melanie was prayed with for her crooked spine. Her legs become the same length and she could stand straight. It was not until weeks later, when a chiropractor was struck dumb and Melanie’s agnostic mother wept with joy, that she allowed herself to relax and simply accept the bizarre, the surreal. She was healed.

Michael Fraley –  A stable, consistent God for all time – As a Pentecostal, Michael searched for missing links in the writings of the early Christians. When he attended Mass with his future wife, he wept that all of the things he had spent over twenty years investigating, she had known as part of her everyday world since infancy. He felt like a scuba diver loaded down with gear, trying to enter a world that his mermaid swam in effortlessly.

Dr. Michael Norman  – Unbridled Grace: The True Story about the Power of Choice – Michael Norman discovered his first clinic was a front for the Russian Mafia’s network of multinational and multimillion dollar illegal businesses. Secret Service and IRS agents he cooperated with framed him and kept him in suspense for 28 months before his indictment. He sought peace in various religious movements, then visited a Catholic priest and learned about redemptive suffering. He received the grace to surrender to God’s will, carry his cross and triumph over evil.

Nancy ShumanThe First CallRaised in an “unchurched but Catholic-on-the-books” family, Nancy did not learn of Jesus until the first grade. She fell in love with him. At her Catholic school, she would sneak into the empty church during recess. Jesus Christ was her first love and always will be.

Neil CombsGod bless the Unbroken Road – Neil’s conversion was more intellectual than emotional for this Lutheran from Long Island. He grew in his faith as his children prepared for their Catholic sacraments and soon he was in RCIA. The Cursillo movement inspired him to spend three years studying prayer and write a book on prayer. Becoming a Catholic was a well thought-out, rational decision made along his unbroken road.RCIA. The Cursillo movement inspired him to spend three years studying prayer and write a book on prayer. Becoming a Catholic was a well thought-out, rational decision made along his unbroken road.

Regina McQuiston The Call of the Holy Spirit – Regina McQuiston shares her story of renewal, healing and life in the Spirit that changed her life, enabling her to witness to others and pray with them.

Rob BrullGod Kept Molding Me – God molded Rob Brull from his childhood through the passive Church-going of young adulthood and brought him a vibrant, renewed faith through Catholic radio.

Sarah ReinhardCatholic for Ten Years – Sarah Reinhard was curious. Why did her boyfriend faithfully attend the Catholic Church? RCIA followed, with tears that ambushed her at every Mass. Her boyfriend’s faith never wavered nor did he prod her, judge her or lose patience with her. He got Sarah for a wife, a Catholic wife.RCIA followed, with tears that ambushed her at every Mass. Her boyfriend’s faith never wavered nor did he prod her, judge her or lose patience with her. He got Sarah for a wife, a Catholic wife.

Scott Lucado Tripping into a spiritual treasure trove – Scott Lucado compares his faith story to discovering a spiritual treasure trove after worshipping at the altar of self-indulgence. He credits Pope Benedict XVI’s God and the World for sparking his interest in hundreds of Catholic apologetic books that lead him deep into Catholicism.

Tima BorgesChurch teaching changed our lives – Tima and Dave Borges’ conversion began 10 years into their marriage when their vague understanding of Catholicism changed. Tima rediscovered her love for her Catholic roots and Theology of the Body teachings revolutionized their attitude about contraception and Dave’s vasectomy was reversed.

Virginia LietoThe Leap of FaithVirginia Lieto traces her gradual conversion from nominal Catholic to fully committed Catholic and teacher of sacraments and liturgy through a leap of faith.

Your Joy Story:

Telling your Joy Story builds your faith and the faith of others. Reflect on your faith journey, where it began at your baptism, how it came alive and grew strong with difficulties, victories and miracles. Where did God take you and where is he leading you?

Perhaps, as Marie Therese Kceif and Dr. Michael Norman, you were trapped by evil circumstances until God’s miracles amazed you. Were you a pagan, hedonistic, man-hating feminist as was Catherine Quinn? Or, as Neil Combs and me, God drew you into the depths of the Catholic Church from the comfortable denomination that you grew up in and first dedicated you life to him?

Did you find your purpose in life as Andy LaValleeLaVallee, Sr. Anne Marie Walsh and Bishop Mark Seitz did? Or during a search for his presence as Elizabeth Reardon did in college?

As Cheryl Ann Wills and Margaret Reveira did you make your commitment to Christ in an anti-Catholic setting before you found your home in the Catholic Church?  Find him after trying New Age meditation, as did Cyndi Marlow? At a Seder mean as Faith Roberts experienced?

Did you find God after marrying a divorced Catholic as Colleen Spiro? Or marrying a non-Catholic as Regina McQuiston did? Or did the Blessed Mother give you her comfort and insight as Connie Beckman experienced?

Perhaps you were invited to a retreat and realized God was real like Allison Gingras. Or invited to say the Sinners Prayer and then you believed as Jennifer Fitz and Gloria Castro did.

Through curiosity and the study of Catholic writing as Brian Gill, Scott Lucado,  Michael Fraley and Tima Borges? Or sneaking into Church during recess at school as did Nancy Shuman?

Or as Kathy Szymanski are you journaling about your life with cancer and want to honor the Lord and others supporting you in your battle?  Do you have a miracle story of healing to tell as Melanie Jean Juneau shared? Or an emotional healing such as Linda Schubert and Ben Ewing?

Are you a convert?

Bill Alexander, Sarah Reinhard, Lyn Mettler and Karl Erickson recount their surprising conversions to Catholicism. Or were you a CINO (Catholic in Name Only) and now your faith is coming alive? That’s the story told by Virginia Lieto and Diane Roe.

Were you drawn deeper in the Church through Catholic radio as was Rob Brull? Or made the decision to prepare to receive the sacraments along with your children as Cyndi Lucky did?

Like their stories, yours has three stages:

  • Who you were before your conversion, reversion or a miracle you experienced?
  • What God-moment changed you?
  • Who you are now?

Whatever your heart compels you to share, I pray that you will contact me and complete your joy by posting your Joy Story for the glory of God.

Nancy

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