My Journey into the Church - A Most Unlikely Story
It took 50 years, and perhaps a billion tears, but I finally found my forever home in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I had searched for that home all my life, but not until the death of one of my dear friends, Jim, did I find it. This is my story.
God graced me with a deeply Christian mother. She spent countless hours teaching me prayers and started teaching me to read using a picture Bible book. I was baptized United Methodist at 12 years old, just after my father died. She gave me a paperback version of the New Testament written in plain English. I read it nearly cover to cover. It seems that the spiritual world of my early childhood was reawakened by baptism. I recall being drawn to pictures of rosaries in magazines. I'd see the Catholic kids go religious education and I felt left out. I was inexplicably drawn to religious (Catholic) things. Looking back, I realize that I never felt like a whole person. Something was missing in me. I went the way of the world to find that something; a fruitless and often times disastrous effort if ever there was one.
Though I pushed God into the back of my mind, He kept resurfacing throughout my adult years, often as people invited me to accompany them to their churches. For years I jumped from one Christian denomination to another, but always sensed that something wasn’t quite right. Only two Catholics had ever invited me to Mass, one of which was my dear friend Jim. Having been formed in various protestant denominations, I thought the idea of visiting the Catholic Church was ludicrous.
May 2006 my beloved friend died. I was asked to do the readings at his funeral Mass at Holy Family Church. When time came for Holy Communion, I decided to take it. I knew that it was against Church rules, but I reasoned, “I am a Christian; who are they to deny me Communion?” Wasn’t disobedience born of pride the first sin of Eve in the Garden of Eden? . . . So, I took Communion and my life changed forever that May.
I could never accurately describe what happened to me that day, but the closest I can come is to say that the feeling of not being a whole person, that had clouded my entire life, was gone. I was so confused. No way did I believe that the Catholic Church could be the true church. I went home obsessed with studying all things Catholic to prove them wrong, belief by belief! I read Catholicism for Dummies cover to cover. I watched EWTN, especially shows like “The Journey Home”. I listened to The Station of the Cross Catholic Radio as often as I could. I’d open my Catholic Bible and start reading, only to mysteriously arrive at scriptures about Peter’s Keys and the authority given the church by Christ to “bind and loose”. I had read the Gospels many times, but now I understood them differently. Christ’s discourse in the Gospel of John about His Body and Blood, how “unless you eat of it, you have no life in you.” Leapt off the page at me now. One by one the Lord showed me the veracity of every Catholic teaching I was trying to discredit. The final straw was when He led me to the Book of Kings to show me that, “the King’s mother is the queen in the Davidic Kingdom, with her role being to bring the king’s subjects’ concerns to her son the king for redress!! Now I understood why the Church loves Mary so much.
Now it was July, 2006 and I was convinced that the Roman Catholic Church was, indeed, the church started by Jesus when He changed Simon’s name to Peter (meaning, “The Rock”) and said, “Upon this Rock I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against Her.” I decided to attend my second Mass. I was totally lost. God sent help my way, as always, this time from our beloved Sr. Bernarde. She gave me a Missal and walked me through the Order of the Mass. I studied that Missal and memorized many of the prayers. My best friend, Janet, helped me from then on. Janet put me in touch with Debbie DiFilippo, adult faith formation coordinator. I was confirmed in a special ceremony on the birthday of my beloved late brother, Gary, October 29, 2006. I was now, and will forever be, Roman Catholic. I am now whole.
I will always wonder why God chose me to be one of His children, because I sure would not have chosen me! I marvel at the power of His graces working in my life, solving serious problems of many years duration. For example, through waling and praying my Rosary and other prayers, I lost 100 pounds. I quit a 2+ pack per day smoking habit. God is still reworking me into the person I was meant to be. I have a long way to go.
Watching me practice Catholicism resulted in my 94 year old mother deciding to join the Catholic Church, which she did in a special Mass that our beloved priest Fr. Eloo celebrated in my house. February 2009, just 7 months before she died. My beloved friend Vinny read a testimonial booklet that I brought home from a Catholic conference and decided that he needed to go to confession and Holy Communion, for the first time in 50 years! We accomplished that at the Abbey of the Genesee, September 23, 2006, only 9 months before he died!
Since my confirmation, the last of my family, my big sister Karen has died. I have never felt alone or abandoned because God has been so faithful, filling the gaping holes in my life with true friends like Janet and Helen and Joyce. In addition, I am comforted knowing that my church family extends beyond them to include my saint friends such as St. Therese of Lisieux and her “Little Way”, St. Faustina of “The Devine Mercy”, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Padre Pio. To think that 50 years I scoffed at peoples’ belief in the power of saintly intercessory prayer!
This is my Christian testimonial. I could go on, for every day God writes a new page into the book of my life to the degree that I welcome Him in to guide the way. The many times that I still try doing things my way are my loss to live with and there are, sadly, still many of those times. Therefore, please pray for me.
Peace and Love to you all,
Dawn Lynn Paula Wells