Intro and background

Written by Joel on April 2nd, 2008

At this point I feel quite overwhelmed with all of the deep theological thinkings going on in my little head. For fear that I may explode someday in the not too distant future, I need to get these thoughts out into words.

My story:

I grew up in a small “main-line” (protestant) Christian church. I was called to the ministry early in my life. At some point in high school a pastor drew me aside during summer church camp and suggested I consider God’s calling for me. With some guidance I went off to college, and find myself presently in seminary with one year to go.

At about the same time as I was encouraged to consider my calling I was introduced to the Roman Catholic Church by a classmate. She invited me to mass, and I remember feeling dreadfully uncomfortable and out of place. That’s not the way we do it at my church after all.

As some time passed and the initial culture shock wore off I began to examine Roman Catholic theology a bit deeper. I certainly hadn’t even scratched the surface yet, but I was at least intrigued. My interest grew until one arbitrary day I called the priest at the local Catholic church and asked to speak with him about conversion. I didn’t know where I stood to be honest, but what is the harm in gathering some information?

I met with the priest and he gave me a catechism, and some other reading material. I gave him my phone number so that he could follow up on my study. Without fail, a few days later the priest called my house. My father was the first to pick up the phone, and he did not share my same curiosities.

It was my senior year and I had some solid scholarships at one of our denominationally affiliated colleges. My father warned that I would lose these scholarships if I even thought about conversion. I was considerably discouraged and decided not to met with the priest for a follow up meeting. I felt a bit like the rich young ruler who chose his wealth rather than become a disciple.

My college was situated in the smallest town I could ever imagine. There were no traffic lights, only 3 or 4 businesses including the college, and a mere 2 churches. One was protestant (of my particular tradition) and the other Roman Catholic.

I, of course, attended my denomination’s church because I was preparing for ministry after all. I found the church to be someone lacking for various reasons. Having no other alternative (but honestly looking forward to opportunity) I tried out the Roman Catholic Church. I was at least familiar enough to follow along in the Sunday missal. I have found some very true long-lasting friends from that church. In fact of the few people I stay in contact with from college, they all attended that church. I even began a one-on-one impromptu class with the pastoral assistant to explore the Catholic faith deeper than I had before.

My preparation for ministry again seemed to get in the way of my exploration of the Catholic Church. I accepted an internship at a church, which would of course mean I needed to go to worship services there. Luckily, however, I met my wife through this internship in a round-about way.

Through that internship I was offered a summer job from one of the parishioners. At this summer job I met my wife, who (wouldn’t you know it) just so happens to be Roman Catholic.

We married about three years after we met, and the role that religion plays in our lives has been a constant struggle.

Currently I remain committed to my calling to become a minister (in the protestant tradition). But I feel a calling to the Catholic Church as well.

Why I began this blog:

I began writing this blog partly to aid my own spiritual journey. At the same time however, I hope to find others that may be (or have been) on a similar journey as myself. I hope to share my struggles, discoveries, epiphanies, and questions here.

Thanks for taking the time to read my story. I am uncertain where this journey will lead.


 

2 Comments so far ↓

  1. tkeldm says:

    Joel,

    I stumbled across your post in the Yahoo! discussion group Protestant-Catholic Debate. From there I followed the link to your blog.

    I joined the Catholic Church in 1992 after being a Protestant for all of my previous 35 years or so.

    I am now involved in an Emergent-Reformed church.

    I am very interested in unity amoung Christians but I sympathize with your situation. I’ve obviously gone back and forth.

    If your interested, I can grant you authority to my spiritual journey autobiography (about 10 pages worth).

  2. Joel Walkley says:

    Sure, I would love to hear your story.

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