"WE FOUND THE FAITH"
Stories by recent Australian converts to the Catholic Religion
THE CATHOLIC ENQUIRY CENTRE
Each writer is a convert resulting from contact with Catholic Enquiry
Centre. These true stories are written in the hope that they may
interest other people to study the teaching, practice and belief of the
Catholic Church. The publication is also an acknowledgement of the
support of the many Catholics who make the work of the Catholic Enquiry
A.C.T.S. No 1553
The roads that lead to the fullness of faith are many and varied. One
wonders, even after many years of experience with converts, if any two
are exactly alike. My work at the Catholic Enquiry Centre has brought
me over the years into contact with some thousands of people
whose search for an adequate answer to the purpose of life led them
ultimately to peace of soul and a living faith within the Catholic
Sometimes I suggest to those who become Catholics that they might write
out for me a brief account of the events that led to their enquiries
into our Faith and their subsequent reception into the Church. I never
cease to marvel at the endless variety of heart-warming stories that
come back. They are a constant encouragement to all of us at the
Centre. They remind us to renew our own gratitude for the priceless
gift of faith which we so often tend to take for granted. They help us,
too, in our efforts to appreciate the problems of others who are still
searching for divine truth, and asking us to guide them in their search.
This pamphlet is a selected cross section from the many stories that
have come to us. Most of these stories were written in the form of
personal letters and were not intended primarily for publication. But
for that very reason they are all the more personal and spontaneous. We
requested permission to publish them because we know that they cannot
fail to elicit a sincere "thank you Lord for the gift of Faith" from
many Catholics who read them. I am confident that they will also bring
grace and courage to many who have not yet reached the end of their
search for the true Faith.
The writers of these stories were surprised when I asked their
permission to publish what they had written. They had no desire for
personal publicity. Yet they gladly gave their permission when I
assured them that it would help others to find the faith which had
brought them so much happiness.
THOMAS A WHITE,
CATHOLIC ENQUIRY CENTRE.
June 10, 1969.
Something Missing in Our Lives
By BARRY JOHNSON, Melbourne,
It is not unusual for a husband and
wife to become Catholics together, but it must be rather unique for a
young engaged couple to be received into the Church together by way of
preparation for their marriage. This was what occurred in the case of
Mr. and Mrs. Barry Johnson of Ashburton, Victoria. Seven weeks before
they were married, both were received into the Catholic Church the same
day. They are now a very zealous young Catholic couple.
Neither my wife nor I darkened a church door from the time we were
twelve until we were twenty. We started going out together when we were
sixteen. When I was doing part-time matriculation, I studied modern
History beginning with the History of the Reformation and Renaissance.
I got "carried away" with Luther and the Reformation (so carried away,
in fact, that incidentally I failed modern History due to too much
specialization - or was it speculation!)
My girl friend (now my wife) and I often discussed it, and we began
slowly to realize there was something missing in our lives, so we
started to go to church. As the only friends we had were Protestants,
we went to the Church of England and were confirmed there in August,
However, I still did not feel completely certain of myself, especially
regarding the following points:
1. Lack of defined dogma in the Church of England - nobody
to say what is definitely right and what is definitely wrong.
2. Different attitudes to Communion - ranging from a mere
memorial in the so-called Low Church, to the doctrine of
transubstantiation in the High Church.
3. Lack of Sacraments - confession, or penance, anointing
of the sick - which I knew I needed to help me live a true Christian
life. The Anglican general confession and general absolution recited en masse each week did not help me
realize the gravity of sin as I now know true confession does.
There were other things that jarred me, but suffice it to say here that
I gradually came to realize that Catholicism, after all, seemed to have
the best credentials. It was at this time I took the course merely to
examine it and find out.
The priest at the Enquiry Centre patiently helped me unravel any
problem. One of my first questions was on the "justification by
faith alone" theory. Another was - what was the position of a
Catholic regarding belief in a dogma defined by the Pope which he felt
in conscience he couldn't accept, e.g., the Immaculate Conception.
I wondered if there was really such a thing as the "Index of Banned
Books" and, if so, what penalty was imposed on Catholics who read them.
Could I go to confession and have my sins forgiven without becoming a
member of the Catholic Church? How did the Catholic Church view my
chance of salvation or that of a Presbyterian or Unitarian?
Such questions I felt might sound ridiculous or impious - but I needed
the answers to clear the air and overcome years of -prejudices. They
were all satisfactorily answered, so now I could take another step
forward. The Mass was a bit of a puzzle. How could Our Lord offer
Himself to God if he is in fact God Himself in the Blessed Trinity? Can
we really sacrifice Our Lord and make him re-live the agony of the
Cross, or was this a painless sacrifice? If God is infinite and
everywhere, how is the Real Presence explained? Is God concentrated in
the bread or what? These were questions of vital importance to me.
During this time a grave internal struggle was going on in my mind.
While I had sometimes hinted of this internal conflict to my then
fiancee, I used to alternate between denouncing and praising the
Catholic Church. This gave my fiancee a rather confused idea of the
When four months before our marriage I told her I was going to become a
Catholic, she nearly dropped dead. At first, she totally rejected the
idea and totally rejected the Church. My interest, however, aroused her
curiosity. We studied the course together and in the meantime attended
a series of pre-Cana conferences, where we got to know the local priest
From being a staunch anti-Catholic Protestant she became a vigorous
Catholic, even informing some of her Protestant friends that they were
not attending proper churches.
Seven weeks before our marriage, we were both received into the
Catholic Church. Our conversion has changed the whole course of our
lives for the better. I cannot express how much the Church has changed
our lives and our attitude towards our marriage. Our Faith is truly the
greatest single factor in our lives today and our wish is to raise a
holy Christian family.
"I 'Sticky-Beaked' My Way into the Church"
By WENDY BADMAN, Victoria.
When Wendy Badman wrote this brief
account of the events which brought her to the Catholic Faith she was a
young teacher at a public school in a Victorian country town. Now she
is a young mother, happily married to a good Catholic. Since she became
a Catholic she has been instrumental in helping her younger sister to
find the True Faith.
I suppose you could say I "sticky-beaked" my way into the Church. At 13
years of age I discovered the Catholic Hour when I was given an old
wireless for my room. 1 listened with my ears glued to the barely
audible Question Box segment so that my sister who slept in the same
room would not be disturbed. I continued to be dubious about the queer
practices of Catholics. I listened to the muddled views of my school
friends for several years. In my fourth year at high school I answered
one of the Catholic Enquiry Centre's newspaper advertisements, but I
did not continue after the first lesson because I was afraid someone
might discover what I was doing.
It was not until last year, when I was studying for Matriculation, that
I began to listen to the Catholic Hour again. I sent for some Catholic
Truth Society pamphlets on various religions and to the Catholic
Enquiry Centre - this time to complete the full course.
There was something very different about Catholicism. Why did Catholics
go to church every Sunday? Why did they tell their sins to a man? And
did they really have to pay threepence per sin as one friend told me? I
was quite interested in finding out for myself. After all, didn't we
learn "clear thinking" in English class at school. I read The Road to Damascus and other
books surreptitiously borrowed from the local library. So many
intelligent people became Catholics. Until then I had only heard of a
few girls who had "turned" to marry Catholic boys.
About this time I became worried. I was a normal high school girl. I
had good, although religiously apathetic, parents. They had sent me to
Sunday School and I was a communicant Anglican. My friends talked a
great deal about religion and the meaning of life, but few of them
attended Church regularly or applied religious principles to daily
life. Why should I be different?
I had never been inside a Catholic Church at this time; eventually, I
summoned up the courage to ask a Catholic acquaintance to take me to
Mass with her. I was impressed by her firm but casual acceptance
of her Faith and my interest in it. I had expected to be rushed off my
feet when my intentions were known.
I sometimes made visits to the Blessed Sacrament after carefully
waiting to make sure no one saw me enter or leave the church in our
The year was slipping by, the final exams were looming nearer and I
felt I was going to fail miserably. My study .habits were greatly
disrupted by the constant knowledge that the Catholic Religion was true
and I must become a Catholic to do God's will. This conflicted with my
selfish desires and a wish to conform with my family and friends.
At the beginning of this year I was attending Mass regularly and I
began to take personal instruction from the parish priest. My exam
results came out and I passed. I was convinced that Our Lord and His
Mother had helped me.
My doubts and fears vanished and I became more and more aware of God's
great gift to me. Five weeks ago, I was received into the Church and I
was confirmed last weekend. My crosses have been small ones. My family
and friends, although more than a little bewildered at my decision,
have come to accept it. Of course, I hope and pray that they will one
day share the great treasure of the True Faith.
Someone Who Needed Help
By RON SYKES, Canberra, A.C.T.
Mr. Ronald J. Sykes took the Catholic
Enquiry Centre's course merely out of his interest in studying various
religions. Ronald's first search for truth led him to atheism and then
bitterness against the Catholic Church, subsequent to his Catholic
girl-friend (who suggested the course to him in the first instance) and
himself - having agreed to terminate their friendship on the grounds of
incompatibility, arising out of their conflicting ideologies. Ronald is
now Secretary of a St. Vincent de Paul Conference and full time worker
for the blind. The following is his story.
For me the Catholic faith was a tremendously complicated thing to
understand. Though my father does not profess any religion, my mother
is a fine Christian woman. They gave us love and understanding, which
many professed Christians do not give their children. The surrounding
atmosphere in which I was reared was devoid of Christian teaching, but
not devoid of anti-Catholicism.
When I became very attached to a young Catholic girl called Catherine
at the office I was forced for the first time in my life to examine my
"materialistic" philosophy and compare it with Christian doctrine. At
her request, I applied to the Catholic Enquiry Centre for their course
informing them there that my interest was merely that I was making a
study of various religions - which I was.
The topic of religion was my favourite. Catherine and I seldom talked
about anything else. Since I knew all the answers I delighted in
ridiculing the faith of others. She bought A.C.T.S. Pamphlets for me,
which succeeded only in supplying me with more ammunition. Constant
discussion and searching analysis led me firstly to atheism. I became
pro-Communist in my whole outlook.
Catherine meant a lot to me in those days. When we first met she needed
help. I think the early days of our friendship helped her a great deal.
When she suggested we terminate the friendship because of our
conflicting ideologies, I became frustrated and depressed. Consequent
to losing her, I grew to despise the Catholic Church. It was then I sat
down and wrote to the Catholic Enquiry Centre eight pages of a diatribe
on Catholic beliefs and criticism on what I had read. I often
wonder since what reaction the bitterness of the contents evoked from
the priest at the Centre!
In it, I doubted the existence of God. For me, the existence of God was
pure speculation, something that only some people feel and certainly
not me. I could appreciate the fact that if we trace life far enough in
its history then we must reach a stage where there is something
that we all depend on for our existence. But who could define that
"something"? And since no one can define it, how can anyone profess to
love it? Furthermore, how do we know we still depend on it. How can we
have confidence in this indefinable force or being? To me the Catholic
claim that God made us to know and love Him was simply making God an
The Gospels, as far as I was concerned, were four very ordinary men's
interpretations of Christ's actions and sayings. Miracles should have
been defined as "occurrences, usually beneficial and unexpected, which
man cannot explain". Catholics accredit them to the power of God simply
because man cannot explain them.
I could accept Christ as an historical person, but to claim that he was
God. Well, what next? We were asked to believe it to be so, simply
because he said so and the man was dead for nearly 2000 years Because
people could not explain his powers, they naturally accredited them to
divine origin. To me it would have been safer simply to state that this
man, Christ, did things that no other man could do. What evidence was
there anyway, apart from the word of man, that Christ did actually rise
from the dead?
As for the Catholic claim to be the true church with an infallible
head! Well, Christ did not actually form any Church. He gave ideas to a
dozen men upon which to form a Church. Every modern Church represented
these ideas to me except the Catholic Church, which was incorrect in
its teachings of bigotry, prejudice and intolerance. I quoted the
examples of Galileo, such things as the persecution of non-believers,
the selling of Indulgences. These were the policies of the Catholic
Church before the Reformation, policies purported to be executed in the
name of God! Other Churches were formed because true Christians could
not accept the barbarous attitude of the Catholic Church then. The
other denominations shed the superstition and fear that the Catholic
Church still clings to.
The strength of the Catholic Church lay in the fact that children were
taught to fear the unknown from the day they were born and every
subsequent day during their schooling, and a child's mind will absorb
everything until the age of seven or eight. If the Catholic Church
believed so strongly in its ideals, then why couldn't it begin teaching
them when a person is at the age to reason for himself.
The Church's claim to infallibility couldn't be true since it was
formed and is still governed by men. Christ never said that St. Peter
was to have a successor. In any case, the Pope today could not be a
successor to St. Peter, if we are to use the word in its true sense. He
has been elected by means of the political machinery of the Catholic
Church. He has not been appointed by Christ but merely appointed by
I honestly didn't expect much of a letter in reply to my diatribe.
Nobody could have been as surprised as I was when a few days later I
got a patient and detailed answer to each of my objections and
accusations, together with long notes of detailed proofs and comments
from eminent Protestant scholars contradicting my charges.
The logic of it impressed me. I learned that if I were to
single-handedly demolish the Church then I would have to revise and
improve my arguments by reading and talking a great deal more.
I discovered a book by a Chinese called Lim Yutang - philosopher and
pagan. His philosophy was to enjoy life and forget about an imaginary
and sadistic Creator. His philosophy became mine and I vowed to read
all his thoroughly enjoyable works. You can imagine my reaction when I
discovered in the Canberra Library that my favourite writer and
supplier of argument material had written one entitled "Why I Became a
Christian". I was stunned to think that Lim Yutang and Christianity
could be compatible. The book was very moving and fascinating.
This made me continue the course, where such problems as the justice of
God, the inerrancy of the Bible, the problem of evil in the world,
presented themselves to me. Having no answers, I sought them from the
Centre. Again the answers were detailed, kind and gracious. I noticed I
wasn't sent the "Peace Prayer" which was supposed to be enclosed. I
wrote for it and got it by return. I was in search of peace of mind. I
desperately needed it.
I am sure now it was the loss of Catherine that plagued my subconscious
mind. One night I walked miles trying to find some reason or solution
for my despair. I walked into a Catholic presbytery and met a priest
who has since become a great friend. When he sat me down in his study,
he opened a can of cold beer for me. He let me talk that night , but
then for two nights a week for eight or nine months he did the talking.
His personality and kindness impressed me. I had always imagined
priests to be unsympathetic "businessmen". I can remember vividly
seemingly small things that Father said and did that impressed me
deeply. I think it was only in our second talk he said that "God is
love, justice, kindness and mercy", or words to that effect.
Perhaps it was the way he said it, but the words made sense. Somewhere,
I felt he was right. I realized that Christians don't pretend to know
everything about God, or picture Him as a bearded gentleman on a
throne. His statement that the Church was the only organization which
had existed for 2,000 years showed it was either authentic or the
greatest fraud of all time. Authentic seemed more acceptable.
In a book he gave me to read, it was pointed out that matter was
indestructible. I related it to the Christian claim that after death
the body is not destroyed but merely changed.
I began to think that somewhere, somehow, there had to be an answer
available to a man if he wanted it. It appalled me to continue
believing that we were born to die and decay without any knowledge of
our creation or destiny. I used to gaze at the stars and wonder how
space and time could possibly be infinite. I recall saying to myself,
"There must be God", and I felt I believed this basic fact upon which
every tenet of the faith is based.
I've always felt a nagging pity for those unfortunate souls we see
daily. Many times I've taken in derelicts to feed. With all the
suffering and misery in the world, I knew that the ultimate answer had
to be one of goodness. I knew there was a God, and that God was good.
Reading the Sermon on the Mount, I felt that the justice, mercy and
goodness of God would ultimately triumph over the injustice and
inhumanity of man. No man could escape this since "the paths of glory
lead but to the grave."
I met a girl called Virginia about this time and I accompanied her to
Mass. I didn't understand it because it was a High Mass, but I studied
the faces of those returning from Holy Communion, and for the first
time I realized that people really did believe. I had always imagined
that people only clung to this immense fairy tale wanting to believe in
it because they weren't strong enough to face the reality of life. She
took me to Mass every Sunday from then on. I am indebted to her because
she eased my loneliness, and I pray for her still.
One evening I prayed to be sent someone who needed help. I don't know
why I did this - perhaps it was the subconscious mind again. She came
under the name of Clare. Clare was passing through troubled waters and
needed help badly. She wished to become a Catholic but had several
misconceptions that prevented her from doing so.
I am still amazed at the fact that I was able to direct and inspire
her. She was receiving instruction when she left for France and I am
certain she was baptized there. I had been able to inspire someone with
a Faith I didn't know I possessed. In this sense it was Clare who drew
it from me, because we discussed the subject constantly.
I became desperately in need of help myself. I began visiting St.
Patrick's Church each night. I remember the first time I entered making
sure that there was no one else inside. I experienced some relief from
my loneliness in those visits and sensed some hope of eventual peace of
mind. Prayer was difficult and even embarrassing in the presence of
anyone else. Eventually I shed my pride, the greatest stumbling block
for anyone in search of God, and knelt and asked: "God, if you are
real, please help me to believe." Acceptance of God was my only real
problem. If one accepts Jesus Christ, then the tenets of the Catholic
Faith seem to fit like pieces of a jig-saw puzzle. All my objections
were washed away when I accepted Jesus, because the tenets of the Faith
appear in His words in the New Testament.
I began to realize that the Christian person was different than I had
imagined. People construct a picture of a group or organization
according to their experience with its members. Unfortunately, we tend
to take more notice of bad example than we do of good. Small acts of
kindness that are occurring about us constantly are seldom noticed or
soon forgotten. But anything the least harmful or callous, even if
unintentional, is never forgotten and often magnified.
My opinion of the Church has been based on the example of some
Catholics I had known. The people who were helping me now presented a
different example. Although, this may seem a minor point, its
realization took me a big step forward, since I came to realize that
the core of the whole question is "What does the Church teach?", never
mind about how some of the members apply it. To me the essence of
Christianity seemed to be "Love God and love your neighbour." I was
also aware that each Christian had the means to reach perfection. I now
knew that only Christianity could help each person and thus each nation
to be better and more just.
Faith began to grow in me until it became life itself. It was the
"Rock' on which I hoped to build my future life. The privilege of entry
into the Catholic Church became my one ambition and it would be one of
the happiest days of my life when the Church accepted me. That ambition
was realized and that happiness was fulfilled when I was baptized
and received into the Catholic Church. On the day of my baptism
Catherine had Mass offered for me.
Shortly after my Baptism I returned home, where I met Carol - a
wonderful girl whom I love very much. After two years of courtship we
were married with Nuptial Mass and we are very happily married. Carol
is the daughter of the former Secretary of the Conference of St.
Vincent de Paul of which I am now secretary.
One year after my Baptism, my mother was baptized a Catholic. I seem to
be able to pray the more earnestly when I know of someone in need. The
blessings given to such people as a result of prayer have indicated to
me time and time again the worth of prayer.
Undoubtedly, it was the instruction from the Catholic Enquiry Centre
that played the major part in explaining to me the doctrine of the
Church. My priest friend showed me how this doctrine can be lived. My
loneliness provided the reason for my search for truth and finally led
me to discover the meaning of humility.
Only I know how good God has been to me, both directly and through the
friends who helped me. I only hope I am able to prove worthy of his
love and worthy of membership of His Church.
My Curiosity Kept Me Searching
By MRS. MARJORIE E. DAVIES,
Mrs. Marjorie Davies, whose Catholic
grandfather was disowned by his family for marrying a very religious
Church of England lady outside of the Catholic Church, was strictly
brought up in the Church of England. At thirteen, she worried her
parents by becoming too religious. When thirty and mother of four
children, she answered an advertisement of the Catholic Enquiry Centre
"on impulse", but hesitated about taking the course because, she wrote,
"I feel I would be unable to change my faith on account of family
union, in which I am a strong believer". As the purpose of the course
is not to make people change their faith, but simply to explain the
Catholic faith to those who want to know about it, she was enrolled.
How the change came, Marjorie tells us herself.
My father was the son of a Catholic man and Church of England woman.
This Catholic grandfather of mine was disowned by his own family for
marrying my grandmother out of the Church. She loved her Church and I
recollect how she often sang hymns and was generally religious in
thought and outlook. My own mother was of no particular faith, but was
very strictly brought up and had my brother and I baptized in the
Church of England when we were only six weeks old. At five, she had us
attending Sunday School.
When I was eight, a new Vicar came to our Church. This man was a great
religious influence in my life. He stressed the necessity of daily
prayer, and even if we were unable to say many prayers, to at least say
the Lord's Prayer every day. He made great changes for youth, started
junior Church, social evenings, etc. By the time I was thirteen, I
could think of nothing but Church. My parents did not attend church and
were worried about my becoming too religious.
It was at this time I started to wonder about Catholics. I was allowed
to go to dancing classes in the Catholic hall, which was right next to
our own church. We had heard all sorts of stories about priests, about
confession, about Catholics having large families even though they were
poor, and above all how they were allowed to do anything they liked as
long as they attended Mass on Sunday. Now, I was meeting them at the
dancing lessons. I began to wonder for myself. What was it about
Catholics? I was afraid to ask them. But my curiosity grew until one
Sunday I sneaked into the Catholic Church to have a look. What I saw, I
loved. It intrigued me to sec they all attended Mass together. This
made an indelible impression on my mind, and looking back I think it
was this that made me become a Catholic many years later.
At fourteen I was confirmed in the Church of England. My grandfather -
who couldn't receive Communion in his own church, told me then that I
must never forget to make regular Communion a habit. I did this all my
life. I was a regular communicant even when I wrote to the Catholic
Enquiry Centre years later. Then I listened to every word Catholics
said and I read as much as I could. In short, I tried to be a good
Catholic in the Church of England.
At fifteen, I met a young married Catholic couple of about 25 years of
age, who are still my good friends. Howard, the husband, was a convert.
They are a wonderful Catholic family. I loved their children and the
example this couple set made a big impression on me. It was Howard
first suggested the Catholic Enquiry Centre to me, but I was worried
lest my father and mother might be displeased with me, so I didn't
write for the course.
At twenty-five I married. I often told my husband of my love of the
Catholic Church, but I hesitated to do anything about it. I lacked the
courage and also I was a strong believer in unity of religious beliefs
in a family. Becoming a Catholic, I felt, would be dividing me from my
husband and children. I knew he had no objection to my visiting the
Catholic church if I wanted to, but he did not want me to take the
children. In my heart I knew I belonged to the Catholic Church. But how
could I upset him? I turned to God for guidance.
Eventually, after my fourth child was born, I saw the Catholic Enquiry
Centre advertisement in the paper and cut it out to send for the
lessons. I did this on impulse and with my husband's knowledge. But one
secret I kept from him was when I actually enrolled for the course and
began receiving the lessons. I felt guilty about this. My husband is a
good family man, who has no objections to Catholics, but neither has he
any desire to be one. It wasn't that I didn't want to deceive him, but
knowing that his thoughts on religion were not as deep as mine, I felt
the time was not opportune to tell him of my growing desire to be a
My faith was nearly shattered one morning when I received in the post a
book of lottery tickets from some Catholic organization. I could only
think of one place where they could have got my address - the Catholic
Enquiry Centre. How awful, I thought! And one of the reasons I had
taken the course was because it was in confidence. It's not that I
object to buying a ticket if asked to, but being sent a whole book to
sell! I was so worried. As I was enjoying the course immensely I felt
obliged to sell the tickets in appreciation, but decided I'd ask my
Catholic friends first. They felt, I was wrong and decided to ask the
priest. I was so relieved a few days later when I had a letter from the
Director of the Catholic Enquiry Centre as a result of a query from the
priest, assuring me that wherever the organization got my address from
they certainly did not get it from the Centre, and furthermore that
nobody had access to the names and addresses of anybody on the course.
It was such a relief!
Papal infallibility was a bit hard to accept - that the Church should
have a Pope - a leader - this I could accept. After all, every
organization must have a head. But to regard that head as being
infallible was different. When this was explained correctly, however, I
can well appreciate the need and appropriateness of it. Learning of
priests and nuns, I envied them. Living in communities, with set times
for prayer, away from everyday hardships and worries makes life easy
for them rather than for the likes of me, preoccupied with keeping a
family and living in the middle of materialism.
Even after finishing the lessons, I still had problems, but no doubts.
The course didn't teach me much more than I already knew, as I did not
need to be convinced. But it did give me the determination to press on
with my desire to become a Catholic. I visited a priest and had quite a
long talk with him. He asked me to talk my husband into seeing my point
of view. This may not seem hard, but for me it was a tremendous
difficulty. And he also wanted me to suggest sending the children to
Catholic schools. At this time I was expecting my fifth baby and
decided to do nothing until I spoke to the Sister in the hospital whom
I knew very well from my previous visits there.
However, I began to attend Mass, and once again the large numbers
fascinated me as they did when I was only thirteen. Their reverence for
the altar and the tabernacle, the children and families, the lack of
concern how one was dressed because no one was interested in what you
were wearing, impressed me. All were there for the one purpose - to
worship Our Lord and to pray to him. When I think of the stories I had
heard as a child, I wondered how ever sensible people could believe
It took three years to overcome my final difficulties about making up
my mind, mainly because of the effect I thought such a decision would
have on my children. Each night I asked God to guide me and do whatever
he wanted me to do. Finally, the grace came and I was received. My
parents and husband accepted it quite casually and had apparently
thought I would have changed much earlier. Actually, I often wonder why
I took so many years. The day I was received I was so excited I wanted
to tell everyone I was a Catholic, but instead I had to walk quietly
At present I am busy interesting my family, but I want them to come of
their own accord. My children attend Mass with me sometimes and I hope
they will all receive the grace to follow me. As yet, my husband has
never attended, but I pray that one day he will. While I can never
thank God enough for the gift of faith in spite of my hesitation, I
pray for so many who, like me, would like to be part of the Church but,
not having had the privilege of growing up in it, are too nervous to
take the step.
Something You Would Hide
"Brought up in a home where religious
beliefs were almost unknown, and religion never discussed, unless it
was ridiculed", Tom Dicks was introduced to the Catholic Enquiry Centre
by his Catholic fiancee, Jan Crisp, and actually studied the course in
her name, revealing his true identity some months after having
completed the course. The following is Dr. Tom's story.
The names and places in the following
story are fictitious as the writer is a doctor and in compliance with
medical ethics desires to remain anonymous. The facts, however, are
totally true, as given by the writer himself, Dr. Tom Dicks. - Editor.
I was brought up in a home where religious beliefs were almost unknown
and religion never discussed. Roman Catholicism in particular was
thought to be bad, and most Catholics misguided, brow-beaten zombies
who did what they were told when they were told and paid up what they
I was sent to a Methodist College, mainly because my father went there
as a lad. We never went to Church and only occasionally did I attend
At the university, religion was a joke and Catholics were not just
included in your list of friends. The only time I regularly attended
Church was during my National Service, and then in body only, but not
in mind or spirit. I feel now that this attitude actually made the way
easier for me, when I became interested in Catholicism, as I had no
deep attachments to any faith or doctrines.
When I was in my fifth year of medicine at the University I met my
wife-to-be. She shook me when she proudly stated she was a Catholic, as
I had always felt that this was something you would hide if you could.
Ever since I first took a girl out, my parents always asked me: "What
religion is she?" "What does her father do?", etc. You can imagine
their horror when I told them Jan was a Catholic, and later when I said
we had planned to marry when I finished at the University!
Jan and I spent many hours discussing Catholicism - in fact all our
dates were spent at this - before I picked up courage to seek further
instruction. I still felt too ignorant and perhaps shy to approach a
priest. Jan suggested enlisting the help of the Catholic Enquiry
Centre. Because of my parents' attitude I could not have the weekly
lessons arriving home, so I got her to enrol in her own name. She
passed the lessons on to me, noted my problems and sent them to the
They weren't serious problems really, rather problems arising out of
utter ignorance - the difference between Catholics "going to Mass" and
non-Catholics "going to church", the meaning of the word "Pope", what
Christ really meant when in Mt. 16:19 he said: "Whatsoever you shall
bind upon earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever you shall
loose upon earth, shall also be loosed in heaven?"
For me the idea of a supernatural life was something new. After all, I
had got along quite well with a solely natural life for so long, I
didn't quite grasp the necessity of imposing a supernatural life on me
at this stage.
Jan, previous to taking me to Mass, had taught me how and when to
kneel, how to bow my head in prayer, etc. At Mass I was quite surprised
to see people looking around to see who was there, greeting their
neighbours in the pews. The lack of reverence by people who claimed
prayer meant so much to them shocked me.
I didn't expect to understand any of the Mass and it was just as well.
The priest mumbled away to himself in Latin with his back turned to us;
there were no hymns, and I felt just like a spectator rather than a
participant. The priest spoke of the Catholics as being "God's chosen
people". This contradicted what I always thought to be a title for the
Jews and certainly Jews and Catholics seemed to have very little in
common. How then could they choose the same title?
Of course, Jan sent all my queries to the Enquiry Centre and they were
all very graciously answered. In fact, the priests there will never
know how really grateful I am to them, first for the opportunity to
gain the course (even by subterfuge), and, secondly, for the advice
they gave me when I was so confused, and, in a way, frightened.
Rather fearing to take the step, I had tried to talk Jan into a
marriage outside the Church. But there was nothing doing. I would have
to marry her in the Catholic Church, or not marry her at all.
A new worry arose when I realized I was cheating by taking the course
in Jan's name. I felt I had to apologize - probably the most
embarrassing and difficult letter I ever wrote in my life. I got an
understanding reply that made me feel they knew all along there was
something fishy, but went right along with it for the sake of being
able to teach another Nicodemus the true faith. By then I had decided I
had to become a Catholic.
Why? You might just as well ask me why I fell in love with Jan in the
first place, and not with any other of the girls I had known, I just
don't know the answer. Possibly, God in His wisdom wanted me to be
another of His "zombies"! Really, faith is a gift. It is a gift from
God to anyone who searches for him with an open mind and heart, and a
fervent desire to find the truth.
Faith is a tremendous gift. I can never fully express the joy and
happiness I have found, and the great help that the faith has been in
our marriage. To be able to go to Communion and kneel with my wife; to
be able to say the Rosary at night with her - has brought us closer
together and has strengthened our love for each other more than I ever
My parents certainly were not very enthusiastic about my choice. They
even suggested I became an Anglican as a half-way measure. However, my
parents have now completely accepted my decision and rarely make any
objections or deride me about the Church. They love my wife as a
daughter and can see how happy we are together. Some of my friends, of
course, still think me a bit odd, but they don't voice their feelings
Being a Catholic doctor does complicate my work at times. This mainly
occurs when people in poor financial situations or health want advice
on contraception, or request that horrible little tablet. However, it
does help a lot when people are suffering, or have lost a loved one.
Jan and I were married five years ago with Nuptial Mass. We have a boy,
a girl, and another baby is expected shortly. During these last five
years I've come to realize what I missed as a child and as a youth, and
just what a large hole there was in my life. This has been filled now
and I pray I will never lose the faith God has given me. I hope my
children will never have the empty lives I had as a child, and one day,
perhaps, one of them may become a priest or a nun to help to give to
others the chance to find God or the faith.
Being a doctor, I suppose, I find it hard to end without a prescription
for the seeker of the truth. Firstly, forget all the tales you have
heard about the Pope, Catholicism, etc. (Believe me, you hear some good
ones from "friends" who are afraid you might "fall".) Approach the
problem with an open mind and heart. Pray for guidance as you've never
prayed before. Finally, put all your trust in God.
A Blind Prejudice
By JEFF ADAMS, Tasmania.
Born in Tasmania in a district where
there was no Catholic church, Jeff Adams got his initial interest in
Catholic beliefs and practices from a cousin who was studying the
Catholic Enquiry Centre's correspondence course. Knowing little or
nothing about any religion he was prejudiced against the Catholic
Church, but always had a desire to learn more about God since the time
he attended Sunday School as a child.
My parents were never really interested in any religion, although I was
sent to a Protestant Sunday school and church. When I turned 14 I
stopped going to Sunday school and church. From then on I don't think I
thought much really about God or religion for some years, but one thing
I did know; I would never become a Catholic.
At that stage in my life I was completely anti-Catholic; I know now
that that was due to a complete lack of understanding, a blind
prejudice. I remained so until a cousin of mine was telling me about
the Catholic Enquiry Centre. She told me that she had been receiving a
correspondence course of lessons from the Centre and that she hoped to
be a Catholic one day. This seems to have started me thinking about my
attitude to Catholics, and suddenly I felt I wanted to know more about
the Catholic Religion.
In the meantime, I had seen such great films as "The Sound of Music"
and "The Bells of St. Mary's". These played a big part in making me
wonder what the Catholic Religion was really. My cousin gave me the
address of the Catholic Enquiry Centre and I wrote and told them what I
wanted to know. They recommended their weekly booklets on the Catholic
Faith and started sending them to me. This was the turning point, and
it was here that I realized the magnitude and extent of my own
misunderstanding about the Catholic Church.
I'm sure I am one of the more fortunate ones because everything in the
Church's teachings made sense to me from the start. I had no real
difficulty with any point of belief. The more I studied the more I felt
that the Catholic philosophy of life was the very thing I was looking
for. How strange it was to recall that only a couple of years earlier I
had been so prejudiced. Now I know that I was prejudiced only against
my own false image of the Church, not against what the Church really is.
While still receiving the weekly lessons from the Enquiry Centre I
called on a priest and got help from him with some points I did not
understand. When I finished the correspondence course of twenty lessons
I decided that I wanted to be a Catholic. I called on the priest again.
He took me through a further complete course of personal instruction. I
was quite sure then that God wanted me to be a Catholic.
Approximately twelve months after I had first written that letter to
the Catholic Enquiry Centre I was baptized. From then on my whole life
changed. My new understanding of Christianity gave it new meaning and
The Advocate of Desperate Cases
By MRS. MARGARET BROWN,
Mrs. Brown and her family were
involved in a car accident from which they had a miraculous escape,
attributed to the intercession of St. Rita. From her investigations
into the life of St. Rita she was led to the Catholic Enquiry Centre
and from there into the Catholic Church, bringing her children and
husband back with her. This is the story in Mrs. Brown's own words.
I wasn't particularly interested in changing my religion until three
years ago. Then, I had been working in a shop and one day found a medal
of St. Rita on the counter. I picked it up and seeing what it was I
presumed that it belonged to some Catholic. Knowing the owner would
probably turn up looking for it, I left it back on the counter,
forgetting all about it. However, later, by some mistake, it got mixed
in with some change from my shopping and ended up in my purse.
A few days later, my husband Cyril, my brother and myself were driving
in our car when we had a terrible smash. A tip truck jack-knifed into
us. Some people passing by in another car pulled up to see if we were
allright. I vaguely remember one of them saying "God help them. They
must be dead!" That was all I remembered. Many hours later in hospital
a policeman told me that my brother and I were being admitted, while my
husband was being discharged.
I wondered how Cyril would get home. The car was a write-off. I asked
the policeman if be would find my bag and bring it to me so I could get
my purse and give Cyril some money. When the policeman returned with my
bag he said how amazed he was that we were alive. He had attended far
less serious accidents where the people were killed.
With that, he handed me my purse. Then this amazing thing happened.
Even before I opened it this medal of St. Rita fell out of it on to the
ground. I picked it up and at the time I couldn't even remember how I
came to have it. I had forgotten about seeing it previously in the shop.
When, eventually, I was discharged from hospital, I was still thinking
about this medal. It was on my mind so much that I asked just about
every Catholic I knew who St. Rita was, and no one could tell me. I
still had the medal with me.
Shortly after this, David, my son, was in hospital having his third
operation in a fortnight,. and the doctors didn't think his chances too
good. One evening Cyril and I were on our way to the hospital. We
stopped by St. Francis' Church to pray for David's recovery and later
passed by a Catholic bookshop where behold I saw a book entitled "The
Life of St. Rita." I could feel my heart leap. I bought the book.
Sitting in the waiting room outside the theatre where David was being
operated on, I began to read the book. From the first chapter I learned
that St. Rita was the patron saint of desperate cases. I put down the
book and for four hours I pleaded with her to save my son. She did.
David came out of the operation and began to recover.
It was then I decided I wanted to know more about the Catholic faith. I
enrolled for the Enquiry Centre's course of lessons and found great
comfort in the prayers in the folder. I began to say them daily and
teach them to David and my daughter Cheryl. Cheryl had never been
baptized. David was baptized in the hospital by the hospital chaplain
when he was seriously ill. That was something I did which I couldn't
really explain. I called the priest at the hospital to baptize him -
not for any particular reason except that it seemed the most natural
thing to do.
From studying the lessons, my desire to become a Catholic grew, as well
as my devotion to St. Rita. I learned, too, what a wrong thing my
husband, being a Catholic, had done in marrying me out of his Church.
We used to attend Mass, but of course Cyril could not receive Holy
Communion. This bothered me too.
Then Cheryl began to ask questions: "Why is it, Mum, that you are not a
Catholic and Daddy is?" "Why, Mummy, wasn't I baptized?"
There was only one thing to do, and that was to go and see the priest
at St. Clement's. He was the one who taught Cyril at school and I knew
him when he was hospital chaplain where I once was a nurse. The whole
family began taking instructions from him. Cyril found them as
interesting and worthwhile as I did. I was hesitant for a while about
becoming a Catholic, as I wanted to be sure it was the right thing for
me to do. But I am happy about it now and I feel a much different
Cheryl was baptized and David's private baptism was solemnized. I was
received and Cyril and I remarried in the Church. I was so full of joy
the day that happened. I had inadvertently taken him from the Church
and now I can kneel beside him in church again.
I Knew I Needed Something
By ELIZABETH BELLINGER,
Born in England in 1946, of agnostic
parents, Elizabeth Bellinger made her first brief contact with the
Catholic faith in a boarding school in Germany at the age of eleven.
Six years later, she emigrated to Australia with her parents,
experiencing no desire for religion, until at the age of twenty "having
reached an age", as she puts it, "where a definite void in my life was
making itself felt, I decided to understand the Catholic faith in more
detail than before".
Having studied the Catholic faith,
through the Catholic Enquiry Centre's correspondence course, Elizabeth,
a keen and intelligent clerical worker, was received into the Catholic
Church at the age of 21. Here, in her own words, is how it came about.
As a child I had no religious training. My parents, while being
nominally Anglican, were in fact agnostic, my father especially being
very critical of Catholic practice. We were then living in Germany. It
was not until I was sent to a boarding school at the age of eleven that
I came into personal contact with Catholics. Three of the five girls in
our dormitory were Catholics. I was fascinated by a faith so different
to the scraps of Anglicanism that I had picked up during my early
years. I was most intrigued by a lovely pink "necklace" (which of
course turned out to be a Rosary) owned by my closest friend, and the
little statue of a lady in blue which stood on her locker.
Curiosity got the better of me. One night after "lights out" I crept
over to this friend of mine to find out more. And thus it was that I
had my first instruction in the Catholic faith. During my two years in
that school I became deeply interested in the Catholic faith, and
definitely felt drawn towards it.
As my parents were returning home to England, I left the school, and
Catholicism was thrown to the back of my mind by further school studies
and the environment of an agnostic family. Three years later I find
myself in Australia at the age of 17. It was not until I was 20, having
reached an age where a definite void in my life was making itself felt,
I decided to understand the Catholic faith in more detail than before.
I was then passing through a particularly trying phase and realized I
could not stand alone. In some incomprehensible way, I felt that there
did exist a Being who cared intimately about the fate of every
individual. I was groping in the dark, however, and was unable to
theorize further on this rather vague piece of guesswork.
Leafing through a Sunday paper, I happened to see an advertisement
offering a free correspondence course on the Catholic Religion. My old
interest was revived. I felt "This is IT"! I wrote for the course and
was enrolled. Having read the first lesson, "God and I", I realized
that here was the crystallization of all my vague yearnings, written by
people who knew, beyond any shadow of doubt, that what they were
teaching was the truth.
For the first time in my life, I began to pray regularly. Although at
first they seemed to be a mere formula for belief, I found that after a
matter of weeks they were a most beloved formula. One prayer in
particular, a prayer for faith and sincerity, helped me infinitely. I
don't know why, but I could say it with more devotion than any of the
others, except the Act of Contrition.
Gradually a certain peace and tranquility came into my life. I found
myself saying "Thank God" when seeing a sight of particular beauty. To
my surprise it came quite naturally when ski-ing at Gunnamatta to say
"Thank God." While walking to work in the morning, the sight of the
wattle and the cherry blossom in bloom evoked a silent "thank you" to
God. Six months ago this would have made me feel sheepish and slightly
foolish. Now, it seemed merely right and natural to be grateful for
things which I had previously taken very much for granted.
But it was not all sunshine. I am naturally shy. Learning privately
about God was great, growing in faith and love for Him was marvellous,
but there were problems. How could I tell my parents, especially my
father? I love my father and I feared the shock he'd have at my desire
to become a Catholic. I lacked the courage to present myself to a
priest for a more detailed instruction on completion of the course. I
knew very little of the history of the Church, her Popes (except what I
had heard about the bad ones), Bishops, the growth and development of
the Church down the ages.
There was the question of conditional Baptism. I was, as far as I was
aware, baptized by an Anglican minister. Would I therefore have to
undergo conditional Baptism, or profess my faith? Did I have to learn
the catechism word by word? This question worried me out of all
proportion to the problem, as learning by heart is not my forte, and
the thought of facing an oral examination was dreadful.
Finally, the greatest obstacle to my conversion - that of Confession.
To a person who for many years had been self-sufficient and rather
insular the thought of telling my sins to God before a priest made me
extremely nervous. God knew of all my various wrongdoings, but having
to actually admit them, and to express my sincere sorrow for them, took
some screwing up of courage. In fact, it was not until I had received
my first absolution that I realized what a barrier my sins had
been between God and me. There is still some nervousness present at
Confession, but it is not that of a self-willed pride unwilling to
confess mistakes; it is only a fear that inadvertently I would not make
a full and satisfactory confession.
I cannot stress enough the importance of the tactful advice and
guidance given to me at this time of doubt, fear and worry, by the
priests at the Enquiry Centre. Through their kind letters and prayers,
I began to know for the first time the peace and love of Christ and it
meant more to me every day.
My belief in God grew to full fruition of faith under the direction of
our local priest who received me into the Catholic Church.
I still have many things to learn about my faith, and there is a lot of
room for personal improvement, but it is no longer a lonely struggle
for a perfection beyond the reach of a "lone wolf". For now I feel that
God is by my side. I have Our Lady and the Saints as examples to strive
after, and as intercessors. I have a faith which will never fail a
need, however large or small. Thank God!
God Finds a Way
By MAX LYONS, Brisbane, Qld.
Max Lyons was an undergraduate at the
Brisbane University when he became a Catholic in June 1967 at the age
of 20. Since then, he has gone to Europe to continue his studies. This
brief account of his search for God was written after his reception
into the Church.
My early religious training was fragmentary and diverse in Protestant
denominations. In my sub-senior (Year 11) year at secondary school, I
gave up religion completely. I believed I was a convinced atheist when
I entered the University. I remember seeing advertisements in the daily
papers offering "the Truth about the Catholic Religion", but I felt no
desire whatever to answer them. Yet is was one of these advertisements
entitled "We would like you to know us better" that aroused my
curiosity and caused me to enrol for the Enquiry Centre's course of
I read the first few lessons half-heartedly - out of courtesy -and
seeing that it was the same old (rather meaningless) story, I just
started putting them into their folder. The story of the Creation of
the Universe from nothing by God was there. My own thoughts on the
universe were, why couldn't it be there in the first place? God was
inorganic, while the universe was organic. God was self-existent. Why
couldn't the universe be equally self-existent? I believed it was. It
didn't need God to create it.
I believed that there were two types of atheism. The simple atheist is
one whose spiritual power is ruled by his organic power; be does not
recognize the existence of a spiritual being. I was one of those. The
other, which seems to me to be more common, is the one whose spiritual
power has become impaired in some way so that he actually dispels the
idea of God.
From the age of fourteen I prayed that I would become an atheist and
asked forgiveness in advance. At that time I was religiously inclined
to the point of eccentricity. Now in atheism, I was quite genuine and
certainly never prayed for religious faith. I felt God had taken away
the bit of Protestant faith I possessed; I was afraid he might give me
back the true faith purged of anaemic beliefs. I guess I tried to blind
myself against believing, as I felt quite content with the way of life
I had established for myself. But at the same time I couldn't help
trying to visualize what a God would be like. I wrote to the Enquiry
Centre for literature on the Catholic idea of the nature of God. A
pamphlet which was sent to me, and further reading matter which was
recommended strengthened my belief that there must be a God of some
kind. But I still felt no personal need for help from God in my own
I continued to read the weekly lessons without much real interest until
I came to Lesson 15 on the Virgin Mary. This seemed an interesting
topic, so interesting in fact that I went back and re-read all the
Towards the end of the correspondence course a letter from the Enquiry
Centre suggested I should read the Bible. This I did. I found that in
spite of my many strong ideas, I still believed the Gospel story of
Jesus Christ. However, I could not go along with the expressed ideas of
a divine nature and prayer. Divine things were spiritual, earthly
things were material. Prayer could be a lifting up of the mind to God,
but to me it wasn't very spiritual to be continually asking God for
I read somewhere that God gives these things to people if it is good
for them to have them. But, I felt, God would give them anyway, if they
were good for me without my praying for them. In this connection I was
reminded of Alexander Pope's Essay on Man - "One truth is clear -
whatever is, is right." And my conclusion was that our prayers would
not make it otherwise or change what "is" to a different "is".
One of the things that repelled me in Christianity (perhaps
Protestantism) was the idea of individual salvation. At least, if
prayer was effective, there seemed to be more sense in the Catholic
belief that people could help each other by prayer. I didn't see the
need for prayer in my own life since I felt quite self-sufficient
without it, and yet I was always impressed at the endings of the
letters from the priests at the Enquiry Centre. They invariably ended:
"Be assured of a remembrance in our prayers", or "we would be grateful
for a remembrance in your prayers." I felt obliged and I did begin to
pray - out of courtesy at first, out of need, later. It surprises me
now in retrospect when I remember how long it took me to see the simple
and obvious meaning of Christ's words, "Ask and you shall receive."
My road back to Christ began when I started praying. I did not go to
Mass on Sundays because my mother objected very strongly to the
Catholic Church. But we had Mass at the University on Mondays and
Fridays and I attended these. At first I was not certain what to do at
Mass, but I made all the responses. Though religion featured in the
conversations of a lot of people at the University, I felt I needed to
discuss my problems with a priest.
I went along to one of the priests at the parish church in the hope of
having some discussions. When I told them about my mother's strong
objections to my interest in the Catholic Faith I was refused
instructions. To me this seemed at the time to be worse than apostasy,
to turn people away from the Church. I know now that it was done out of
consideration for the "peace of the household". On telling my parents
of my ideas a row started in the house. But I remembered from my
reading of the Gospels that Our Lord had promised us things like this:
"Do not suppose I have come to bring peace to the earth . . ." (Mt.
10:34-39), and the passage of the true "imitation of Christ" in Luke
14:25-34. All this helped me to realize my need for divine help through
prayer. I became determined. I met the University chaplain and arranged
to be instructed by him.
The instructions did not last very long because I had been studying in
my own way for two years. The chaplain was satisfied that I had learned
all I needed to know from the correspondence course, together with the
guidance I had received by letter from the Enquiry Centre and my
perusal through books in the library. I started going regularly to
Mass, and began to feel a greater need for the God I had purposely
pushed out of my life. Though I knew enough to be received into the
church, I now knew I'd be learning all my life. The various problems
during the two years of searching had all helped to break down my pride
in my own self-sufficiency and give me an awareness of my dependence on
God. I had discovered the meaning of praying.
On July 12 I was received into the Church. The same day I received my
first Communion. Two weeks later I was confirmed and took the name
Bernard. I was surprised at how well disposed my parents became and
accepted my entry into the Church. The desire to enter a monastery is
still with me. I don't know how my parents will react to the idea. But
I have learned now to leave these problems in God's hands. If God is
really calling me to the monastic life He will find a way. My life is
in His hands.
A Letter With a Difference
From MRS. P. A. COLE, Adelaide,
Mrs. P. A. Cole, South Australia,
housewife and mother of four boys, the eldest now twenty, took the
Catholic Enquiry's Correspondence Course in 1964. While on the course,
she politely completed and returned the questionnaires, telling us
simply she was saying the recommended prayers, was not discussing the
lessons with anybody, never attended Mass, was once shown around the
inside of a Catholic Church by a friend eighteen years ago and thought
our course would possibly promote greater mutual love and understanding
among Australians. She did, however, recommended it to some of her
friends, though she considered it more of an outline and suggested we
could give more detailed information in the lessons.
Dear Father White,
You will no doubt wonder why I am writing to you now, as it's over
three years since I took your course! I must hasten to explain that I
never replied to your final letter (at least, I did, but never sent
it), because things at home were pretty grim at that time, all caused
by the fact that I was expressing such interest in Catholicism.
You see, it all began when I was sixteen. Then I had seriously
considered becoming a Catholic, but came up against such strong
parental opposition that I dropped the whole idea. My parents were
strictly Protestant, who considered Catholicism something akin to
witchcraft, and certainly something that no nicely brought up young
lady would delve into. I decided to let the matter end there, at least
until I was twenty-one. Then, perhaps, if I felt the same way about it,
I could make my own decisions.
At twenty-one my thoughts were more on a partner than on religion.
However, I thought about it on and off (more often "off" than "on" I
think) for years. Then about four years ago, for no particular reason
that I can think of, I found this "thing" was on my mind all the time.
It used to hit me hardest on Sunday mornings in our own church
(Methodist). Sitting there in church, I found myself thinking all the
time: "This means nothing to me, I would rather be on my knees in a
Catholic church." Finally, I decided I had to do something about it.
Why? I don't know. I don't really know why even now. All I know is that
I knew deep down inside me, that I had to do something about this
thought that kept nagging at me.
I had seen the newspaper advertisements a number of times offering your
correspondence course of religious instruction. I decided I'd apply to
one. Then I had two reasons in my mind. One, to clarify a few things,
as it was many years since I had any discussion with anyone on the
subject. Two, rather than make a sudden shock announcement to my
husband that I was converting (as I was absolutely sure at that time it
was the only thing for me to do), I wanted him to get used to the idea
I didn't tell him I was applying for your lessons, but, of course, it
wasn't long until both he and the boys began to notice my interest in
Catholicism. The tension began to grow. It all seems a bit silly now,
but the problem was very real to me then, so I do hope you will forgive
my rudeness in finally ignoring your last letter. I have been feeling
guilty ever since! The derisive comments I got when a letter came from
the Enquiry Centre began to make me feel jumpy. So I decided not to
write any more.
However, I persevered in my design and was finally received into the
Catholic Church on Christmas Eve and made my first Communion at
The first year was difficult, to say the least. My darling husband
found it very hard to accept my interest in Catholicism. Our (then)
Parish Priest gave me lots of jobs to do and I know he did it in order
to help me integrate into parish life. Trouble is, I am now so jolly
integrated I am run off my feet! Looking back, I can now appreciate
that it must have been something of a bombshell for my husband to see
his apparently sane wife appear to go slightly mad!
Our four lovely sons took it quite well. The youngest one, Philip (aged
twelve years) always attends Mass with me and would indeed like to take
the same step I did, but my husband won't allow it just now. We hope
and pray. The next year will bring the permission we wait for, I am
sure. When Philip will be able to take the step, it will be a happy
occasion in all aspects.
After the first year which was so filled with tensions, things seemed
to ease up considerably. My husband even allowed two of the boys to
attend the Christian Brothers' College here in Adelaide. They have been
there over a year now and are very happy and settled. In fact, my
husband, after his early reservations about it, is now unreserved about
his praise of the school and the Brothers. I think it was a question of
time proving that the Brothers were not going to 'brainwash' the boys!
So there you have a brief account of my family situation.
You will now understand and forgive, I hope, my not writing to you when
I should have three years ago. I must thank you in a special way for
sending me the lessons. They simply clarified everything for me. Since
my reception into the Church, I have never for an instant had any
regrets for the decision I made. To me the Faith is a great gift and I
pray that I may be always loyal to it
I don't think there is much more I can say to you. It's sometimes
difficult to put things into words. If you wish to reply to this, I
shall be happy to hear from you.
Yours most sincerely,
MRS. P. A. COLE
(Well, who wouldn't reply to a letter
like that! -Father White.)
The Catholic Enquiry Centre is
established in Sydney. It invites interested people who are not
Catholics to discover more about the teaching of the Catholic Church.
This is done by a correspondence course free of charge and in
2O Free Weekly Lessons
on the Catholic Religion
The Catholic Enquiry Centre offers a free course of 20 weekly lessons,
by mail, on the Catholic Religion to all who are not Roman Catholics.
Tell your friends about it:
They may write for an explanatory brochure and enrolment card. The
lessons are posted in plain, sealed envelopes; they place the receiver
under no obligation of any kind; all names and addresses of applicants
are treated as strictly confidential; nobody calls. (Offer is free to
all in the Australian Local Postal Area.)
This application form may be used.
Please send me your brochure in a plain, sealed envelope. I am not a
(Block letters please)
CATHOLIC ENQUIRY CENTRE
P.O. BOX 63, MAROUBRA, N.S.W. 2035
Anyone may buy the complete text of the lessons as a 250-page book "The