Our story

Monique is a convert to the Catholic church

Her story of battling dragons...

I remember first being aware of God when I was three. My mother told me that God loves us, is everywhere at once, and can see all of us all the time. Well, I was a little worried about the idea that God could see me all the time, but soon got used to it. After that I remember singing songs of thanks to Him whenever I was all by myself.

There was a nice Catholic parish near my home. Friends from school went there and I remember going there a few times. A bus came through the neighborhood that picked up children and brought them to the parish for some catechism (teaching). The bus was decorated like a cat, complete with whiskers and a tail. It was a riot! I'm not sure how long I went there or why I stopped going.

My next life-changing experience with Christianity did not occur until I was fourteen years old. Born-again Christians at my high school came out of the woodwork to tell me that they were praying for me. I kept running into them everywhere! I was invited to a youth group called Campus Life, which was part of Youth For Christ. They met once a week to talk about all kinds of topics from a Christian perspective, to socialize, to play games, and to eat snacks. I loved going and soon found myself wanting to have a closer relationship with God.

Soon after that, at the age of fifteen, I made a deeper commitment to Christ and was baptized in front of all my friends and family. Then, I became a very uber-zealous, born-again Christian who had to share Jesus with every single person she met. I was so on fire and super-zealous that I probably annoyed my dear family a little by constantly trying to proselitize many of them. Yet, it was a beautiful time in my journey, and God did a lot of amazing, wonderful things in my life. It was a time when I was hungry for reading scripture and could not put the Bible down to stop reading. Passages from the Bible constantly jumped out at me and came to life! I felt a closeness to God and faithfully went to church every week for about five years.

After that, my faith was tested. I went through some difficult experiences and was hurt by some fellow Christians. I struggled with forgiveness and became dissolusioned. I stopped going to church and decided that God and I would be just fine all on our own. I still prayed and read my Bible every day, but felt that church was no longer a healthy or positive place for me. Then, I began questioning many things I read in the Bible and was heavily influenced by the culture around me. During this time, my fun-loving, easy-going college buddies and I had parties every weekend and we drank like fish! My early twenties were a wild and crazy time.

In my late twenties, I recognized that something was missing in my life and I felt like God was far away, even though He is never far from any one of us. It dawned on me that I had a forgiveness problem, and needed to forgive the people who hurt me. It has been a slow lesson that I am still learning, but God drew me back to Him through it. I started trying to go to Church again. I visited many wonderful places, looking for a spiritual home. I'd usually stay at one place for several months and then I'd get frightened away from the idea of getting too close to people.

I was still going through this part of my journey when I met my husband, Mark, in 2003. Then, I stopped going to church again, for a while. When we moved out to Arizona in 2007, it became apparent that I really needed to deal with this forgiveness problem more seriously. I stumbled upon a group of Christians who had a unique mission to help bring Christ's love and healing to people. They helped me a lot. I stayed with them for three years and I am still friends with many of them. Their group disbanded and went in different directions. Then, Mark wanted to start going to church with me. I was thrilled! We found a nice non-denominational community not far from home, and we faithfully attended there for about two years. The people there were also very nice and I appreciated them a lot.

Around July of 2011 I first began researching Catholicism. A Catholic friend on Facebook shared some things that made me curious. I had to investigate what he was saying, and he wasn't even trying to evangelize me, or anything. He was just saying stuff that sparked my interest.

My attraction to the Catholic Church was fueled by a search for the truth. I learned that various Christian communities I'd been involved with had given me misinformation about Catholics. I was shocked! I needed to find out what Catholics actually believed directly from Catholics, themselves. The more I studied, the more I found myself taking the Catholic position on various topics. It happened enough that I decided it would be good for me to start attending a local Catholic parish.

God was also drawing me to the Catholic Church through the sacraments, which are outward signs instituted by Christ to bring grace into our lives. I did not know anything about sacraments before studying Catholicism. Yet, I found myself inexplicably drawn to Christ in the Eucharist. I found new healing in Christ and strength in Him that I had not known before.

I began attending in November of 2011, and started going to daily Mass. I knew I wanted to become Catholic at that point. So, I went through RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation). That is a place where people can learn about the Catholic Church without any obligation to join or become Catholic. I was joyfully received into full communion with the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil of 2013 where I was confirmed and received my first eucharist. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. I'm so thankful to God for everything, especially for leading me to the Church that Jesus founded, Himself.

Mark is a cradle Catholic

That means I was taken to be baptized in the Catholic church not long after I was born. My parents sadly divorced before I was ten. I remember moving a couple times but still attending a Catholic church with my mother. I have some memories of attending Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) classes in the mid 70s. When I had completed a certain level of education I was then able to receive first communion. It wasn't long after this that we stopped going to the Catholic church. Maybe it was because we moved again and one wasn't convenient. Maybe my mother felt some stigma about being divorced and no longer feeling welcome in the Church or that she could no longer receive the sacraments. I hear this was a common problem then.

We attended one or two non-denominational churches in the mean time and I liked them. The music and singing were more like what you'd hear on the radio than the typical Catholic mass. I tried some activities. I spoke in tongues with a group during an intense session once. Very interesting.

Before I had graduated from high school my mother had passed away. I moved in with my father and step-mother for almost a year and once again attended Catholic church. They didn't bring their Catholic faith home with them when mass had ended and the Church lost its appeal on me. When I graduated high school I joined the military so that I could find a good job. I stopped attending church completely.

Fast forward a couple decades, I'm now married and my wife begins exploring various faiths trying to find a good spiritual home. After a couple years we started attending a non-denominational church together. This church offered great teachings, regularly baptized many new converts and actively helped the community in which we lived. The Holy Spirit was definitely at work there, but we felt something was missing. We just weren't sure what. Fortunately, my wife found her way to the Catholic church which was a mere three blocks away from where we lived.

The first time I walked in to the church I felt comfortable and at home. It wound up rekindling my lost faith. We also discovered those things that were missing in the churches we had attended previously by ourselves growing up and together. By that I mean the sacraments. Confession and eucharist are very important to the Catholic faith. Without them there is no way to return to God and be reconciled with Him. The eucharist is what gives a Catholic life and nourishes him until Jesus Christ returns.

While we had been married in a civil ceremony it wasn't in a church. In fact we had one of our friends marry us on the beach near our home. My wife wanted to get married in the Catholic church. Marriage is another important sacrament as it mirrors Christ's love for the church. He is the groom and the Church his bride.

There were many steps we had to go through to have our marriage recognized by the Catholic church, a process called convalidation. I returned to the sacrament of confession. Boy did that feel good after being away for some thirty years. An enormous weight of sin was taken off my shoulders and left at the foot of the cross. I continued to go every other week. About a year later we were convalidated. A few months later and I was able to be receive the sacrament of confirmation. Confirmation is one of the rites of initiation in the church. Baptism and first communion are the other two. Depending on the diocese, the order may be different.

My wife then began attending Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). It's essentially nine months of classes that meet once a week. It provides for the proper formation of people who want to enter the Church by teaching them what she professes. I attended with my wife to learn as well. My wife came into the Church on the Easter Vigil mass and became Catholic.

I then looked for ways in which I could get involved more in the Church so that I could get acquainted with like-minded people. I wound up joining the Knights of Columbus and quickly became a 4th degree knight in the order. The Knights are essentially a fraternity of active, practicing Catholics who take their faith very seriously. They hold fund raisers for the Church and raise money to help the Church and its families, both locally and world-wide. They have events in which families can get together and feel a strong sense of community. They help the families a brother knight leaves behind when he passes.

I was also happy to be invited to help with one of our faith formation classes for people who want to come into the Church and be confirmed. I give a presentation for one of the retreats that students attend where I instruct them on some of the very things I had to learn to come fully into the faith.

This website is just one more way of helping to build up the body (the Church) while not only learning more about my faith, but how to present it to those who know nothing about it. The amount of misconceptions about the Catholic church is unbelievable. I wonder at times where people get their crazy notions from. Sadly, in our culture it seems if it's not on a reality TV show, the evening "news" or FaceBook then it doesn't matter.

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"...and upon this rock I will build My Church..." Matthew 16:18