Thirty Years


On January 12, 1973, I was received into the Holy Catholic Church. My sacraments were administered by Fr. Randall Roche, S.J., in the Huesmann chapel on the campus of Loyola Marymount University, El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora Reina de los Angeles (better known as L.A.). It was my 18th birthday.
My parents met in the choir of a Protestant Episcopal church in San Diego CA. They married, young, in that same church. I was born 46 minutes after the end of my mother's 17th birthday. Happy birthday, mom, and thanks for choosing life for me and for my brothers and sisters. I was baptised at an Episcopal church in the SF Bay area when I was a few months old. My dear godmother (with whom I still keep in touch) is Russian Orthodox. I lived in England from age 3 to age 6, attended Episcopalian day schools until I was 10 years old, and was confirmed and communicated as an Anglican. I was very happy as an Anglican, and I still miss the liturgy and the small church community feeling. I also miss the music and the chant. I visited other churches (notably Lutheran and Methodist) as a child, and even attended a few Latin Masses with friends (which I found very disappointing).
So how did I end up Catholic?
My family was posted to France when I was 10. We left our Anglican parish behind. We were living out in the country as the only English speaking family in the small village of Premontre. I should mention that this village is home to an Abbey that I later found was founded by St. Norbert .
If we wanted to go to church on Sunday, we had 3 choices. The generic protestant service at the military base, Mass at the base, or Mass in the village. My parents stopped going to church entirely. I was scared to go to the local mass (still in Latin) so I quit going to church, too. I was angry that MY church seemingly didn't exist. What was it with these Catholics? Everywhere THEY went, they had the comfort and familiarity of their specific liturgy, but I could only get mine if and when a liturgically minded Protestant pastor came to base. It just wasn't fair.
Back in the states, my parents continued not to go to church, and I continued to go to various churches on occasion. The various Protestant churches of my friends had great youth groups and lots of fun activities. I went on a camping trip with some Baptist friends. They were miffed that I wouldn't answer the altar call. I told them that I was saved when I was baptised as a baby. I also refused to hand out tracts to the other campers.
By the age of 14, I was really seriously confused by this whole religion thing. I met my first serious boyfriend at a school dance. I was a freshman at the public school, he was a junior at a Jesuit high school. He believed and lived his faith. We went out for 6 months, and then my family uprooted again and I ended up 3000 miles away. At the same time I was dating this young man, I was also regularly babysitting an Orthodox Jewish family's children. I threw myself into learning about religion and history.
My next boyfriend was Anglican but his parents had sent him to Lutheran schools. That didn't make a lot of sense to me. I continued to study but didn't reach any conclusions. My third boyfriend was raised Catholic, and I went to Mass with him and his family at least partly to impress his family. But it all started to make sense, then, all the studying I had done. At the age of 16, I decided that the only two religions that made any sense at all were Orthodox Judaism and Roman Catholicism. Since I had accepted Jesus as my Messiah and saviour, that left me no alternative.
On my own, I signed up for the 'Inquiry' classes at my boyfriend's parish. I went through the process, and wanted to enter the church at Easter, but my parents threw a fit. They told me I didn't need to leave the Anglican church, they trotted out the branch theory, and they finally forbade me to enter the Roman Catholic church. I frankly was surprised, since they had left church to the point where they hadn't even baptised my baby sister. I took the issue up with the pastor. He told me that the I was to honor my parents, and that while I was legally a minor, I could not join the Church. The only exception would be if I were in danger of death. Sadly, I agreed.
I broke up with that boyfriend around the time we both started college. I chose to go to a Catholic school, and my parents didn't object because it was close to home. The moment I hit campus, I sought out a chaplain and explained my situation. We were able to get the needed permissions from the Diocese and so, the day I turned 18, I was in!
The last 30 years have been a bumpy road. Becoming Catholic and learning what it means to be Catholic are very different things. I have not always been obedient to the church, I am certainly a sinner and I am so grateful that Purgatory is an option! As I age, I am becoming more appreciative of the sacrament of Penance. God has been generous to me. Shortly after my reception into the church, He sent me the wonderful man to whom I am married, and as fruits of that marriage, 6 wonderful children. I was able to celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony with the assistance of the same priest who heard my first Confession, Confirmed me in the faith, heard my profession of faith, and gave me my first Holy Communion.
I will close this longish memory with a quote that certainly applies to me. "To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant."
One last note - my husband's birthday is the Feast Day of Saint Norbert. God has a strange sense of humor!

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This page contains a single entry by alicia published on January 11, 2003 7:43 PM.

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