What worked and what didn’t work in drawing you into the Catholic Church?

Over at Facebook’s  Anglican Ordinariate Informal Conversation Forum, someone posted a mock poll asking what “persuasive arguments” one might use to persuade those still in the Episcopalian Church or other Anglican body to become Catholic.

Alas, many on the forum did not detect this was a tongue-in-cheek poll.  Among the multiple choice answers:  tell them none of their sacraments except baptism and maybe some marriages are valid; another that their priest is not a real priest and has never been one.

But that got me thinking:  what drew you into the Catholic Church?  What pushed you away?

I found insistence by Catholics that I must “convert to the One True Church” not only unpersuasive but off-putting.  Same thing with the “Anglican Orders are null and void” arguments.  These arguments set me against joining the Catholic Church.

What attracted me were individual Catholics who radiated holiness and love, who I knew were not “lenient” or “anything goes” in the faith—and probably agreed with the above statements—but did not say those things to me—only loved me, and, through a ministry of encouragement and without necessarily saying anything urged me to “come up higher,” to take the risk to believe, to have faith, to make the plunge.  Most of all, I yearned to be in communion with them.

This does not mean that it is not important for people to proclaim the truths of the faith.  I did hear these things—-and eventually come to accept them—but they had the reverse effect on me than they should have at the time.

All this to say is people become Catholic for different reasons, some persuaded by moral or philosophical or theological arguments; some attracted by love and beauty in Catholic community and worship; and some by quiet, intuitive leading of the Holy Spirit.

If you were to encounter a brother or a sister in an Anglican body, how would you approach them?  Because the hard-line, doctrinal approach repelled me, I would not be inclined to use it.




16 thoughts on “What worked and what didn’t work in drawing you into the Catholic Church?

  1. Unlike the Anglican / Episcopal community in the United States, I have learned that the Diocese based Catholic Church reaches out to everyone and excludes no one from their fold; the total dedication of Catholic priests , the availability of Mass and corporate prayers every day and of course “the real presence of Christ”.


    • In Connecticut they were so low -church Episcopal that the Bishop’s Church in Hartford wanted me to go thru confirmation again before they would receive my letter of transfer from Maryland. Although I had both been baptized and confirmed as an Episcopalian by Bishop Harry Doll in Baltimore, MD and at the same parish that I served both on the vestry + trained in ” high church Alter service ” ! At this same time the Catholic church in Hartford – welcomed me into their flock ” Anglican and all” (they voted me in at the Catholic Book Store in downtown Hartford which held week day masses ! ). And with my readings of Newman and all things Catholic at the Eastern CT. State University library , I was all set for a speedy entrance into the Catholic church in Norwich (RCIA at St. Joseph’s Parish—Willimantic , CT ) — sans marriage, sans dislike of Women priests, sans no issues with homosexuals – but just like Newman a love for the authority of the Real Church and the Real Presence. And while some Catholic parishes have issues – you just go on until you find a good fit. And in the Archdiocese of Boston – the menu is so rich and varied !

      Liked by 1 person

  2. DEBORAH, your article was very, very timely, as I had just read an article in” The Catholic Weekly” regarding Br. Robert Krishna OP. who was Hindu. then Atheist, then Anglican and now Catholic. His entry into the Catholic was through his friendship with Catholic friends, NOT through hard line efforts by doctrinal peoples discussions. Brother Robert OP will be Ordained a Catholic Priest on Saturday 15 July 2017, as a Dominican by Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP of Sydney.


  3. Best plan is to marry someone. Seventy-two percent of those who,enter the Church as adults do so in order to marry a Catholic. If this is not an option, radiating saintliness is certainly attractive. Certainly my top suggestion. Failing this, imitate a wolf circling a herd. Those who are currently enjoying a satisfying Christian community experience are probably not good prospects. Pick out the hurt, the disappointed, the ignored. Those who,have changed denominations several times and are still looking for something better. Those who are tired of endless decisions and are looking for the set menu. Finally, reach out to the six Catholics who leave the Church for every one who enters. Retention is considerably easier than recruitment.


    • I’m not so sure that retention is easier than recruitment. In my home archdiocese, we have had more than a few pastors roll out proverbial red carpets leading right out the door and invite parishioners to walk them through the dysfunctional manner in which they have run their parishes and treated their parishioners. If those who come back find the same dysfunctional situation that they left, not only will they walk straight out the door again, but it will become even more difficult to convince them to come back.



  4. Having been raised Baptist, they instilled in me a love of scripture. In my late teens, exposed to Catholics and various literature (D Day, New Oxford Review, etc), I encountered a direct correlation between the Catholic social gospel and the Bible I loved, as well as a contrariness about the fear of ‘works’ in the evangelicalism of my youth. The Eucharist remained an abstraction to me but one that would not release its hold.

    That combination—the biblical Catholic social gospel and Eucharist—eventually, caused me to succumb, and whatever anti-Catholic resistance I had was overwhelmed by the tidal wave of the Catholic Church.

    In the end, wild horses could not have kept me away.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As a “cradle Catholic” baptized as an infant and raised in a program of ostensibly Catholic catechetical indoctrination that included first communion (second grade) and confirmation (seventh grade), I technically cannot answer the question of what brought me into the Catholic Church, but I can answer the similar question of what kept me in the Catholic Church when I got into serious dialog with members of other Christian denominations. In retrospect, there were three significant factors.

    >> 1. Through involvement in an ecumenical bible study run by an evangelical organization (The Navigators), I learned the methods of bible study, started reading and studying scripture prayerfully with the understanding that it is the Word of God, and discovered more than a few passages that were very supportive of Catholic positions on points of divergence, most which my evangelical friends seemed to want to ignore.

    >> 2. At our Navy’s chapels, I discovered vibrant Catholic Christian community that was utterly lacking in the parishes of my home archdiocese.

    >> 3. Through my studies at a Benedictine national seminary and school of theology and worship with my Benedictine friends, I discovered a depth of theology and spirituality that seemed to be utterly lacking in other denominations (and, yes, also utterly lacking in the parishes of my home archdiocese).

    Why settle for Malbec (yuck!) when you can be drinking a fine Chateauneuf du Pape (Cuvée Vatican, Sixtine Reserve)?

    With respect to methods of evangelism, it is well known that the “hard sell” does not work. Rather, forcible argument only causes the other party to become defensive and more entrenched in his or her positions. A collaborative discussion that is respectful of the other party is much more effective in changing peoples’ minds.

    That said, the Vatican generally takes a dim view of proselytization — that is, efforts to tear individuals away from other denominations to bring them into the Catholic Church — because the greater good is to heal the schism. In reality, proselytization usually has two consequences, both of which are counterproductive.

    >> 1. Proselytization generally breeds distrust among the leadership of other Christian denominations, making it much more difficult to engage them in honest dialog.

    >> 2. Proselytization is more likely to tear away members of other denominations who are open to the possibility of coming into the Catholic Church and leaving behind those who are ardently opposed, thus deepening the divide rather than healing it.

    The result is that the schism becomes much more difficult to heal.

    Of course, the flip side is that the Catholic Church does not turn away those baptized in other denominations who request reception into full communion on their own initiative. Nevertheless, it’s not appropriate to solicit those who are active members of other Christian denominations to come into the full communion of the Catholic Church.



    • “Nevertheless, it’s not appropriate to solicit those who are active members of other Christian denominations to come into the full communion of the Catholic Church.”

      My heart just sank when I read this line. Clearly somewhere between overly aggressive approaches and a too-passive, “come on over to the Catholic Church if you want to” mentality must be an Aristotelian golden mean of warm, and sometimes clever, invitation, even for those who are actively Christian.

      Liked by 3 people

      • For those who are active members of other Christian denominations, the preferred approach is to invite the whole denomination to embrace full communion. The Vatican is fully prepared to set up appropriate ecclesial structures for them. The ordinariates and the sui juris ritual churches are in fact prototypes for this.



    • I second Rocky Mountain Canary. Beat people over the head with the Catechism until they repent and convert? Of course not. As a convert myself, I can also join the choir attesting that it wouldn’t work.

      But willfully leaving *actual* souls in states of schism and/or heresy *when we could reasonably do otherwise*, solely for the faint hope of some future *potential* corporate “reunion” (often with bodies so distorted they don’t qualify as “churches”) strikes me as very spiritually dangerous, and also completely out of line with nearly 2,000 years of Church practice.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Okay, let’s take this from the beginning. In Number 15 of the dogmatic constitution Lumen gentium infallibly states the relevant Catholic doctrinal position (internal citations removed; boldface added).

        15. The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God. They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ’s disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end. Mother Church never ceases to pray, hope and work that this may come about. She exhorts her children to purification and renewal so that the sign of Christ may shine more brightly over the face of the earth.

        What’s evident here is that those who are born into other denominations are not guilty of the sin of schism, and are not deprived of essential means of salvation and sanctification. Those who follow the lead of the Holy Spirit of seeking their own sanctification while working to heal schisms from within the denominations into which they were baptized are not in any spiritual danger, but rather are living in full submission to the Lord and obedience to the prompting of the Holy Spirit in that context.

        The Second Vatican Council expanded and unpacked this theological statement immensely in the decree Unitatis redintegratio on ecumenism. I won’t reproduce the entire decree here, but it provides important background and context for everybody who wishes to engage in outreach to other Christians.

        Finally, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity has promulgated and subsequently revised a Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism which articulates current policy in this matter. This document warns of two dangers: (1) doctrinal indifferentism and (2) proselytization. By way of example, the Number 23 is very instructive (again, internal citations removed).

        23. Catholics are invited to respond according to the directives of their pastors, in solidarity and gratitude with the efforts that are being made in many Churches and ecclesial Communities, and in the various organizations in which they cooperate, to reestablish the unity of Christians. Where ecumenical work is not being done, or not being done effectively, Catholics will seek to promote it. Where it is being opposed or hampered by sectarian attitudes and activities that lead to even greater divisions among those who confess the name of Christ, they should be patient and persevering. At times, local Ordinaries, Synods of Eastern Catholic Churches and Episcopal Conferences may find it necessary to take special measures to overcome the dangers of indifferentism or proselytism. This may especially be needed in the case of young Churches. In all their contacts with members of other Churches and ecclesial Communities, Catholics will act with honesty, prudence and knowledge of the issues. This readiness to proceed gradually and with care, not glossing over difficulties, is also a safeguard against succumbing to the temptations of indifferentism and proselytism, which would be a failure of the true ecumenical spirit.

        This does not mean that we must turn away individuals, and even groups of individuals, who ask to come into the full communion of the Catholic Church. It does, however, mean that our focus should be on healing the schism rather than on moving individuals across it.



  6. The vast majority of those who have joined the Church under OCSP auspices in the last five years did so with a significant majority of their Anglican fellow-parishioners. They were part of a process initiated by their pastor and/or other leaders in their denomination. They were not approached, or not approached successfully, by individual Catholics who presented the faith, although I am sure that once the process of preparation and reception was underway they met congenial Church members. But we cannot credit those Catholics with having initiated an effective invitation, warm, clever, or otherwise. Faith groups which practise “cold calls” on those who have not previously expressed an interest in becoming a Mormon or a Jehovah’s Witness report that one must knock on 10,000 doors to make one convert. I think Norm makes a very cogent case as to why this is not and should not be the approach the Church takes.


  7. I must acknowledge a certain part of my journey into the Catholic Church; rather vocal Reformed-leaning Anglicans attacked anything that smells Catholic (to include incense) as having no basis in scripture. I knew them. After hearing that for so long, I finally got fed up and researched on my own what the scriptural arguments were for areas of disagreement between even Catholic-leaning Anglicans and Catholics. I found the arguments compelling and deeply scriptural.


    • There’s a reality that you don’t strengthen the weak by weakening the strong, and you don’t build up the church by tearing others down. Our mission, as Christians, is to build up the church.



  8. Here is an article of relevance http://catholickey.org/2016/07/08/faith-road-leads-to-rome/ It is also of relevance, I might have thought, because the subject was ordained to the transitional diaconate in the OCSP July 5 2017 at Our Lady of Hope, Kansas City, along with another man who was ordained a permanent deacon. And the Fellowship of St Alban, Rochester, has finally had a priest assigned to it, the recently-ordained Fr Evan Simington, after a hiatus of a year and a half. I have to say I am buffaloed as to why we are invited to muse on disputed and divisive topics of tangential relevance to the stated goal of this blog when hard news goes generally unreported. I wish I could think it was because the latter is adequately covered elsewhere but unfortunately, at least in the case of the OCSP, this is not the case. The official OCSP website has nothing about either of the events I have just mentioned. I admit that it is time-consuming to track these items around the net but if you are not prepared to do this I am not sure why you are running this blog, to be blunt. These are good news stories, I might add.


    • Also of note: there are ongoing plans for a Solemn High Mass in the Divine Worship Use on October 9 at the Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul, Philadelphia, in honor of Bl John Henry Newman. Will be a terrific opportunity to showcase Ordinariate worship to the broader Church! Logistical details etc. will be available closer to the date but you may want to mark your calendars if you’re in the Mid-Atlantic.

      Liked by 1 person

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