The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

A Methodist clergywoman becomes Catholic: “Trust the journey”

While many new Catholics this week are basking in the afterglow of their Easter baptism, one former Protestant (and a former clergywoman, at that) is reflecting back on her first year in the faith, with both gratitude and awe:

I am not sure I fully grasped then either the magnitude of the decision or the joy I continue to feel as a new Catholic. I am not certain I ever will.

Yes, there was a certain grief in surrendering my credentials as a United Methodist clergywoman: I would never again celebrate the Eucharist. I would muse over ideas for a sermon that would remain unwritten, the words privately lodged in my chest. The sacred privilege of burying a loved one or baptizing a baby would remain an experience of the past. As a female pastor for over 23 years in a pivotal time and transition within United Methodist history to be a more inclusive church, as a wife married to a UMC minister and one of the early ‘clergy couples’ in our North Georgia Conference, as an active member and modest leader within the system, I had weathered much, witnessed much, both good and bad, that I would be leaving.


And yet, we must follow the Spirit wherever she leads. And trust the journey. How can we ever regret?

Catholic friends have encouraged me to join the organization called “Coming Home,” an association for former Protestants who “convert” to Catholicism. And perhaps it is the Protestant remnant in me, or simply the natural loner and rebel I am, that causes me to resist even the name of the organization.

With all due respect to my new brothers and sisters who share a similar path as former Protestants, I offer a slightly different perspective. I wonder if it is even possible to “come home” in this life. And aren’t we all one body as the Church no matter what part we fill? Don’t we all share in the call and challenge of falling in love over and over again with the beauty and terror of creation? Doesn’t the Mass remind us of this truth, fill up our mouths, our hearts, the fabric of our very lives with this amazing grace and presence?


I tell people I am Catholic largely for this–the daily reminder that Christ is enough. I tell them that I don’t want or need to be a priest, even if Catholic women are ever ordained. I am on a different journey now.

My intellectual, theological, spiritual life, all lead me to union. I know no other way to exist. And for this union–for a past, present and future reality as a daughter of our Lord, for old and new colleagues and friends in the universal church and Christian faith, for love which transcends every barrier, even the smallest crack, for the marriage of souls which exists between God and one another, for the confluence of theology, religious practice, and experience, for the coming together of heart, mind and body in an Incarnational faith, for the mystery of the Trinity–I will sing.

Whether it’s the Salve Regina during the exquisite chants of a monastic compline or the rousing and beautiful harmonies of Charles Wesley’s “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” in the pew, I pray I will always open my mouth wide in awe and wonder and sing the Song which never ends.

I pray that you will too.

Comments read comments(15)
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Dana MacKenzie

posted April 9, 2010 at 11:29 am

Refreshing. Thank you.

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posted April 9, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Dcn G,
After all the vitriol and discontent I have read on this blog of recent days, this is both inspiring and refreshing. I pray that some of the typical bloggers will not dissect this essay and trash the author and try to read between the lines. I pray that, instead, they will take it for what it is. One person’s journey. Thanks for sharing!

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Your Name

posted April 9, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Not to disappoint AND I did not read the essay, however, my wife’s adulterous long-time lover was welcomed into the Catholic Church and remains so in its open arms, in the face of the validity of our marriage.
So what is the big deal?
I formally defected from Catholicism as a consquence.
So what is the big deal?
I see deep hatred and evil in the Catholic Church as it “moves on” with those who pillage and plunder families. Thank God, I had the courage to act to respond to this by leaving. I do not know this Church into which I was baptized almost fifty five years ago.
The “reform of the reform” is far too little, far too late.
Mine is not vitriol. Mine is reality and it is horribly painful. What I have experienced and continue to, THAT is vitriol and it is with the complete blessing and full cooperation of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. It is a tragedy.

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Your Name

posted April 9, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Yes, he came from the Methodist Church.

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posted April 9, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Yes, a refreshing story for Easter week. Nice change in the usual angry diatribes.
Your name–I think you ought to talk to someone who can help work through your rage. Apparently your wife did not think the marriage was valid.

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Your Name

posted April 9, 2010 at 2:05 pm

You crack me up. Apparently abortionists, murderers and rapists enjoy their work as well and think those who oppose their delights are less than perfect. You run with a nice crowd. You and those like you do much harm an think you do good. Sorry. Fail!

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Holy Cannoli

posted April 9, 2010 at 2:27 pm

>>>It is a tragedy.
Yeah, it a tragedy but do you think you’re the only one who suffers or who has suffered in this world
Grow up. Get off the self-pity bus and clean up your resentment. You do yourself no favors by holding on to the hate and actually make yourself appear to be nothing more that a bitter loser

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posted April 9, 2010 at 2:29 pm

…And yet, we must follow the Spirit wherever she leads. And trust the journey. How can we ever regret? ….
When did the Holy Spirit have a sex change?

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Your Name

posted April 9, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Glad to be here, from time to time, to bring out the “Holy” Catholics, whose gospel is certainly not the same Jesus’ taught.

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Holy Cannoli

posted April 9, 2010 at 2:46 pm

>>>When did the Holy Spirit have a sex change?
There were a couple of terms that were not quite kosher. But, (imo) the important thing is that she has clearly made a huge personal sacrifice by becoming Catholic. She will have time to perfect the terminology….hopefully. 😉

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posted April 9, 2010 at 4:53 pm

When did the Holy Spirit have a sex change?

Sometime after the Book of Wisdom was written. Ms. Clay apparently didn’t get the memo.

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posted April 9, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Really? Didn’t know that God (the Holy Spirit in particular)was limited by gender.
sigh. humans.
LOL – capcha below has judge in it….rofl….how appropriate

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Mary Anne

posted April 10, 2010 at 10:26 am

Deacon Greg didn’t post where this commentary appeared. It was in the Easter issue of The Georgia Bulletin, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
Thanks for sharing the commentary.
Mary Anne

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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted April 10, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Thank YOU, Mary Anne!
Easter blessings,
Dcn. G.

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Gerard Nadal

posted April 11, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Your Name,
How pleasing it would have been to you had the Church refused admission to your wife’s lover, to have ground him into the dust under its heel.
The Gospel a couple of weeks ago was about the woman caught in adultery who was not denied Jesus’ love and forgiveness. You best drop those rocks in your hand buddy, lest your anger and lack of charity land you in hell.
Without being privy to your marriage, I believe that an honest assessment of your failings in the marriage may assuage you of some of that rage. Grasp at that reality instead of the straws of sex-abuse scandals. (You forgot to mention the Renaissance Popes, Tetzel, and all the other sinners that make up the Catholic Family Tree)
A failed marriage is one of the most bitter cups from which to drink, but in leaving the Church you have removed yourself from the grace of the very healing Sacraments of Confession and Eucharist that you are most in need of. It isn’t the Church’s fault that your marriage failed. Nor is the Church to be faulted for welcoming her lover into the great mob of sinners who seek the healing grace of the Sacraments.
The issue here is your marriage and the hard work before you and your wife. Get counseling and get back to the sacraments. It’s rare that adultery is ever a purely one-sided catastrophe. Search your heart in counseling and begin to address the ways in which you may have allowed intimacy and fidelity outside of bed corrode to the point of your wife’s acting out. You’ll never fully forgive her so long as you keep up this proxy war against the Church.
Put the rocks down and come home. We’re waiting for you.

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