Former Protestant minister embraces the truth of the Catholic Church – Catholic World Report
Omaha, Neb., May 7, 2022 / 6:00 a.m. (CNA).
What would cause a Protestant minister to give up his ministry, wander in spiritual darkness for a while, and finally follow God’s call in a new direction?
For Steve Dow, these are the truths of the Catholic faith that, despite his best efforts, he ultimately could not ignore.
Eventually, coming out in faith and trust in the Lord, he answered God’s call and was finally welcomed into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil, April 16 at St. Patrick’s Church in O ‘Neill, Nebraska.
“Like any non-Catholic, especially a minister, it’s a leap into the unknown,” said Fr. Ross Burkhalter, senior associate pastor at St. Patrick’s who helped lead the Rite of Initiation classes. Adult Christian Center (RICA) attended by Dow.
But Dow was ready to step away from the path he was on and openly explore what the Church actually teaches, said Father Burkhalter, who also serves Nebraska St. Joseph parishes in Amelia, Sacred Heart in Boyd County, St. Boniface to Stuart and St. Joseph to Atkinson.
As a minister of the Wesleyan Church, which has historical ties to the Methodist Church, Dow’s journey to the Catholic faith began several years ago when he started watching programs on EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network – a Catholic television network), mainly out of curiosity. , he said.
“I started to realize that a lot of the things that I had heard that I thought were crazy (about the Catholic faith), there are actually good reasons for some of the things that these Catholics believe and practice. , and I kind of felt drawn to that .
“At the same time, I think, ‘I’m a Protestant pastor. If I continue in this direction, I lose my ministry. I lose my source of income. How will I support my family? »
So he had to exclude those influences, and in doing so he said, “I was cutting myself off from God and the direction in which he was leading me.
“I found myself questioning everything, questioning my faith, questioning the existence of God. I had become more atheist, so for integrity reasons I had to leave the ministry,” he said.
That was in 2013, and for the next eight years, though occasionally mingling with the teachings of various faiths and attending their services, Dow mostly lived in a state of spiritual darkness.
“I started to feel spiritually dead inside,” Dow said.
After leaving the ministry, Dow worked for a time with his father on the family farm near Orchard, Nebraska, and joined NorthStar Services at O’Neill, an agency providing support services for people with intellectual disability.
But his wife, Amanda, herself a former Catholic, found the transition difficult.
The couple, who met and married while in Bible college, had entered ministry directly after graduation, Dow said.
“So that was kind of all we knew,” he said. “It was very hard on her, very hard on our marriage. She kept believing and kept going to church, but since I wasn’t going and supporting her, it was hard. for her.
All the while, something continued to gnaw at Dow’s heart. “I just felt like there had to be more to life than that,” he said.
One day, while watching “The Shack,” a Christian film with themes of redemption and opening up to God’s invitation, Dow hit a turning point.
“I remember breaking down and crying, realizing there’s so much more to life,” he said. “It started awakening me to faith again.”
With that, he began to pray and read, “devouring Catholic literature,” Dow said. He started using the Catholic prayer and meditation app “Hallow”, which encouraged him to pray the Rosary.
Dow also started watching St. Patrick’s Parish Masses online and heard about upcoming RCIA classes.
Then, last September, he took the plunge.
“By the time I signed up for RCIA, I was fully convinced,” he said. “It was a good confirmation of what I was already beginning to believe.”
Deacon M. J. Kersenbrock, who conducted RCIA classes at St. Patrick’s, noted Dow’s knowledge and openness to Catholic understanding of Scripture, and his receptivity to Church teachings.
“There was a certain determination in his heart. He knew where he wanted to go, … and when there were questions about Catholic dogma, his heart was open to receiving the truth from the Catholic Church.
One thing Dow found confirming was the Church’s faithfulness to Scripture.
“I always thought Protestants were the ones who took the Bible more seriously or more literally, and I was shocked to realize that wasn’t really true,” Dow said.
“When it comes to things like the real presence in the Eucharist, when Jesus says ‘this is my body and this is my blood’…Catholics are the ones who take that more literally and more directly, and don’t don’t try to explain everything one way.”
Protestants see it more symbolically, he said, “we feed on him by faith in our hearts, … we just remember what he did”.
“Coming with an open mind and an open heart, it’s amazing how the scriptures have opened up,” Dow said. “It’s like, how haven’t I seen this before in all these years?”
And it was the Eucharist that pushed him the most to become a Catholic.
“I can go to Mass, I can listen, I can watch, but I couldn’t fully participate and receive the Eucharist,” he said.
Everything changed during the Easter Vigil.
“It was so meaningful, especially after receiving the Eucharist for the first time,” he said. “I just went home and knelt down. I found myself praying thank you, thank you, thank you , over and over – that’s all I could pray for. It was really overwhelming and very moving.
TOGETHER IN FAITH
And Dow’s wife, who had been raised a Catholic and received the sacraments as a youth but left the Church with her family during her teenage years, returned to the Church.
After taking RCIA courses with her husband, she decided during Holy Week to join the Church by going to confession, then receiving Communion during the Vigil.
“It made it really nice, too, for us to be able to do it together,” Dow said.
And following the Vigil, their marriage was also sacramentally blessed by Father Bernard Starman, parish priest.
“It was almost like a sacramental overload,” Dow said.
Dow’s Journey of Faith may have sown a few more seeds as well.
Their 22-year-old son, who had started attending mass with the couple, expressed an interest in Catholicism. The Dows are also considering the baptism of their two youngest children, 8 and 11, who, in accordance with common Protestant practice, underwent a dedication ceremony as babies but had not yet been baptized.
The couple prays and reads the Bible together as in the past, and can now participate fully in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
“One of the things I found most meaningful was the richness and depth of the Mass,” Dow said. “Everything means something…and everything is backed up by scripture. Everything has a reason and a purpose. »
This article has been first published on The Catholic Voicethe publication of the Archdiocese of Omaha, April 24, 2022. It is reprinted by CNA with permission.
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