Since 2003, well over a quarter of a million parishioners have participated in Why Catholic? as part of small faith-sharing groups. While this large number is significant in itself, more impressive are the real-life stories of Why Catholic? touching and transforming lives. Because of the power of their faith-sharing sessions, women and men around the country experience an awakening of their own faith as well as the confidence and encouragement to share that faith with others.
Here is a sampling of the good news we have received.
I have only been back with the Catholic Church for two years now, after a 25-year departure to a Protestant Evangelical church. Three years ago, had you asked me if I would ever think of returning to the Catholic Church, I would have said, “Are you NUTS!?” But, here I am; and by the grace of God. I had originally left the church because “all” we had was the Mass. I wanted more. I wanted to learn more … study the Bible, and the church I was attending was not very supportive. It was then that I left and went to a Protestant church. My life has had many ups and downs over the years. There were a number of issues that I could not come to terms with during the 25 years. Eventually, I stopped going to church.
In January 2006, after a year of praying, reading, and more praying, I returned to the Catholic Church at St. Mary’s. Father LaValley and the people accepted me with open arms. As I returned I was invited to attend a Lenten study on Bible interpretation. I couldn’t believe my ears. I thought, “The Catholic Church wants to study the Bible?” I knew I was in the right place. I couldn’t get enough, and wanted more. It was then Father told us the bishop was thinking of starting a four-year process through the Catechism. I jumped for joy! I knew I was where God wanted me to be.
I joined the Why Catholic? steering team here at St. Mary’s and became a facilitator. It was the best move I have made in many years. I have been able to participate in a great movement in our Church, local and universal. This Why Catholic? program has been such a blessing to each of us. I know there are well over 2000+ people in this parish. Sometimes I wish I could jump up after Mass and shake each person and tell them, “YOU DON’T know what you are MISSING! Please come! You won’t believe how much you didn’t know about your faith. You will get to know people you see every week at church. You will have the privilege of praying for your brothers and sisters in Christ as they pray for you. I would challenge anyone to come to one of these sessions…. And when it’s done … try and tell me that you haven’t been blessed! Just TRY!”
A woman who was evangelizing for her church called and asked me what I thought the biggest problem in the world today is, and she gave examples like radical Islam, Muslims, etc. I thought for a moment, then quoted something I had read that Gandhi supposedly said, "If all Christians in the world acted like Jesus Christ, the whole world would be Christian." Then I told her I felt the biggest problem is people not living what they preach. She seemed surprised, then readily agreed with me. She then asked if she could send me a Bible Study program from her church. I told her that I was beginning a new program within my own church that was about learning more about our faith as well as Scripture (meaning, of course, Why Catholic?)
She asked what church I went to. I told her, and she asked, "Um, is that Catholic?" I said yes, and then she said, "You mean, you all read the Bible?" I assured her we do. She then said, "Does that mean Catholics are Christians?" I again assured her we were. She seemed amazed, and I ended up telling her more about the Catholic Church. She thanked me and said she would pray for the success of our new program, and we hung up. It was a wonderful experience to tell her something of what we Catholics are all about, and have that person accept it without trying to lure me away from the Church. I felt really good about our conversation, as if I had helped someone understand us a little better, and look forward even more to Why Catholic? sessions, since what little I've already learned from it gave me the courage to speak to this lady.
My Why Catholic? group consists of two married couples, three mothers with school-aged children and myself. At the first meeting, I asked the group what they hoped to achieve. They all had very practical wants and needs. But one stood apart from the others. Ted had been a fallen-away Catholic for the last 25 years and wanted to see what changes had taken place in the church and if he wanted to return. We all took a gulp of air and prayed that we would each find the path, familiar or new, to lead us to our goals. We finished Book One, The Profession of Faith, during Holy Week. That's when Ted softly announced that he had been to confession and received Communion, and was once again part of the church family. His next words were: "without this group's sharing, caring, and prayers, I could not have done this!"
Do you have your own Why Catholic? Good News story? Please email us at email@example.com. We would be happy to feature it in a future World RENEW..
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