Baptist Convert

Katie Plato

Katie is home schooling mother of three, avid reader, catholic blogger and lover of education.

Since becoming Catholic, I have been asked numerous times, WHY??? Why are you doing this? Many Catholics have asked with excitement in their voices, and my non-Catholic family and friends have asked with dismay.

Interestingly, no one asks void of emotion. I was talking with a friend who recently converted, and I was telling him about my mother's belief that the Catholic Church is Satan's greatest triumph in all of history. He replied, "It has to be either Satan's greatest triumph, or Christ's greatest triumph. There is no neutral ground when it comes to the Catholic Church." Truth. The same applies to people I talk to about my conversion; there is no neutral ground. They are either excited or dismayed.

So what led to this decision? Often, when I try to tell this story, it is too overwhelming. How do you describe eight years of reading, discussing, listening, and journeying? My worldview gradually shifted, and it is difficult to put into words what happened in my mind and my heart. There are a few landmark times in my journey that I will try to highlight.

I grew up Baptist - and all that encompasses: Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, church on Sunday, devotions in the morning, prayer before bed, and memorizing Scripture. I grew up with my faith wavering at times, especially during the high school years, and went on to attend a small, Baptist college, where I had a moment where I "rededicated" my life to Christ. It was here that I started dating my husband, who is a passionate man with a love for theology and discussion. We were Calvinists and defended all the Baptist teachings. I will always be grateful for my upbringing; I was taught to value Scripture and have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I was surrounded by people who loved the Lord and desired to share His love with others.

Once married, Nick and I attended the local Baptist Church for several years where we were involved in the AWANA program. It was here that our journey began. We started to be frustrated with church. It seemed that church was "good" if there was a sermon packed with knowledge and we learned a lot, and "fruitlesss" if the sermon wasn't very good. Looking back, I realize that when you attend a church without liturgy, everything focuses on the sermon, pastor, and how we feel during worship. We were frustrated with ourselves, we wanted to enjoy church and worship God; we didn't want to be critical. After much prayer, we decided to leave and find a church that better suited us.

This brings me to the second phase of our journey: searching. This was a very difficult year for us, as we attended a new church almost every weekend. Saturday night, we would get out the directory, and look for a church that we test out the next day. Although this was an emotionally draining time, as we both wanted to be settled in a church, it was a very important time in our lives. We were forced to ask questions: What is church? What is the purpose of church? What makes church "good" and "bad"? As we evaluated churches and ourselves, our answers to these questions gradually changed. We realized that church was not about what we intellectually learned during the sermon and what emotions we had during singing, but that we were going to ascribe worship to God through liturgy. We were to be giving ourselves to God in a way that is greater than what we learned or felt. We shouldn't sit back as a critical audience with our coffees and consume, we were to participate in something larger than us. It shouldn't matter if we didn't like the sermon or not. It wasn't about us; it was about worshipping Christ by participating in liturgy with a community of believers. It took a long time to come to this conclusion.

During this time, we were reading, studying, and discussing all of these issues with friends who were going through the same things we were. We had friends who entered into the Reformed world, Anglican world, and some converted to Catholicism. We settled at a very conservative Episcopal Church, which was run by a priest who had Anglo-Catholic inclinations. During the four years that we were here, our reading and studying continued. We were introduced to liturgy, prayers to the Saints and Mary, the Daily Office, the liturgical calendar, Church history that finally made sense through Apostolic Succession, and really a "Catholic" spirituality.

Our first two daughters were baptized at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, much to the dismay of our families. It was here that a large pillar from our Protestant upbringing was struck down. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura, Bible alone, is the key to Baptist theology. Suddenly, we found ourselves in a Church that believed in infant baptism and we had always been taught "believer's baptism" once a person is old enough to make the decision on their own. This struck both Nick and I at a very personal level as we anxiously awaited the arrival of our first born. We turned to the Bible for answers, and the issue of baptism isn't clear. Both sides have valid arguments using Scripture for why they are right. The Bible, standing alone, wasn't sufficient. The pillar of Sola Scriptura had fallen, and we were left with relying on Tradition or our own individual interpretation of what we thought Scripture was trying to say.

As we attended St. Mary's, Nick was devouring book after book on Church history, and the Catholic Church. He is a history, literature, philosophy, and theology teacher so these issues struck right at the heart of his daily work. Finally, my husband's twin brother and best friend became Catholic. We both had to answer the question of "why are you NOT Catholic?"

I think of this as the last "landmark" in our journey - answering that piercing question - why are you not Catholic? We were living a Catholic life, just void of the Papal Authority and the Eucharist. Due to a move, we were attending an Anglo-Catholic Church that believes in all the Church teaches except for the authority of the Pope. They believe in all seven sacraments and celebrate a beautiful and ancient liturgy. I had read through the catechism several times and didn't disagree with anything in there. All the dominoes of "Catholic problems" had fallen: Mary, prayers to the Saints, Eucharist, infant baptism, etc. The last and final question for us both was the question of authority. Does the Pope have authority? More importantly, do I have to submit to the authority of the Catholic Church? We were both coming to realize that we were still living in the Protestant world of picking and choosing what you want to believe and do with your life. The individual was still the authority.

I'll never forget the moment I decided to become Catholic. I was pregnant with my third child, and had recently moved, meaning a switch in pediatricians. As I was transferring all of our medical information to the new office, I was confronted with the controversial issue of immunizations. There sure are a lot of opinions and dogmatic people on both sides of the issue! My girls were both about half-immunized. I was doing quite a bit of research to decide what we were going to do, when I googled "Christian perspective on immunizations." Nothing good came up. Frustrated, I changed it to "Catholic perspective on immunizations." I was transferred to an article from the Pontifical Academy for Life that was extremely helpful in considering the morality of vaccinating your child. This was ten times more helpful than anything that I had found. It listed the vaccines that are made from aborted fetuses, and talked about the ethical decisions a parent must make, protecting the greater good of society, protecting our children, and protecting the unborn. It didn't give an exact answer; it gave a framework with which to think about the issue. It was practical, nuanced, thoughtful, and right. I was driving to the YMCA, thinking about all of my research, and chuckled to myself, and literally thought, "Those Catholics, they got it right again. They're always right." Then, "Whoa! They're always right." Tears came to my eyes, and it was at that moment, I knew I had been moved by grace to come home to the Catholic Church.

I told my husband that night that I was ready to become Catholic. This was at an extremely hard time in our lives. We had just moved to a new town where he was starting a job at a Reformed school, teaching history and theology, and I was pregnant with our third child. We both knew that if we became Catholic, it would mean he would lose his job and we would have to move again. My husband wasn't quite ready, and for him as the provider our family, becoming Catholic meant a lot more than just joining the Church, it meant losing his livelihood with three young children. It wasn't long after I had made up my mind; he decided he was ready too. After resigning in the spring, we were jobless for a short time before God opened the doors to another teaching job at a little Catholic school where we used to live.

Looking back, I am amazed at the eight-year journey God took us on to find his Church. It has been painful, we have lost friends who no longer want anything to do with us because of our faith, and it is very difficult for our families who feel that we have betrayed them and the faith of our childhood. As we adjust to these new relationships, I am thankful that I have the wisdom and guidance of Mother Church, the prayers of the Saints and Mary, and the grace given by the Sacraments. Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Read more of Katie's story and her ongoing journey towards deeper conversion at her blog "Mother Moved By Grace"

If you have found this story helpful in your spiritual journey we hope you will consider sharing it. Have feedback or would like to share your story? Email us at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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10 comments

  • Comment Link Dexter M. de Leon Tuesday, 17 January 2012 12:49 posted by Dexter M. de Leon

    I am truly inspired by your convertion story. It made me love Catholicism more. You could say I am just an average Catholic living in a Catholic dominated country so I made it in easy. Reading conversion stories such as yours kinda renews my faith as a Catholic Christian. Keep it up.

    Your brother in the Philippines,
    Dex

  • Comment Link Owen Tuesday, 17 January 2012 22:55 posted by Owen

    Katie,
    As a former Pentecostal minister I understand the cost of loosing ones livelihood as a result of converting. It's a deal breaker for some folks. God bless you for acting on your convictions. May God continue to guide you in his grace and mercy. Welcome Home!

  • Comment Link russ rentler Friday, 20 January 2012 01:56 posted by russ rentler

    Welcome Home Katie! It's great to hear of your tenacity in following Jesus wherever He leads! You will never regret your decision.

  • Comment Link Christian Friday, 20 January 2012 15:24 posted by Christian

    Speaking of child Baptism I was covering some of Jesus' intersessory miracles last night in Catechism class: Cana, the paralytic, the Centurion's servant, Jairus' daughter, the Samaritan woman's daughter. In each case the miracle was done through the faith of the intercessor. Before we moved on I compared the intercession of these people (two of whom weren't even Chosen People) with the intercession of parents at a child's Baptism.

  • Comment Link Christian Friday, 20 January 2012 15:26 posted by Christian

    ...intercessory...

  • Comment Link Diane Friday, 20 January 2012 18:46 posted by Diane

    Thank you so much for sharing your conversion story - it was truly heartening! Unfortunately, it is not always easy being Catholic in today's world; so many Catholics are quick to leave the Church and so many non-Catholics are quick to attack our faith because they never take the time to look for the answers to their questions. In addition, we have become a society that takes the view: "what can you do for me" and want to be entertained in church. So many have forgotten the purpose of mass and what it really means to worship. It is so important to continually "research" and study our faith and not just take it on the value of "we were born Catholic". I find that the more I learn about our faith, the more in love I am with it and am so proud to be Catholic!!!!

  • Comment Link Carl Maxwell Sunday, 22 January 2012 08:52 posted by Carl Maxwell

    Beautiful story! Thank You!

    Being a cradle Catholic, I am always amazed at the sacrifice & struggle to understand what I take for granted.

  • Comment Link Todd Monday, 23 January 2012 04:43 posted by Todd

    Thanks for sharing your story - I admire your courage and desire for Truth, and following Our Lord wherever he led you - as a former Baptist myself I could relate with many of your thoughts and struggles along the way - welcome home!
    ---todd

  • Comment Link Moonshadow Saturday, 28 January 2012 03:33 posted by Moonshadow

    I'm aware that in some Protestant churches, especially Reformed ones, the sermon is the central act of worship. (Wiki)

    Did you share this "high" view of the sermon as a Baptist?

    I'm curious how you came to crave liturgy.

    Pax Christi

  • Comment Link Jessye Tuesday, 24 March 2015 23:03 posted by Jessye

    I've enjoyed reading these Catholic convert testimonies but yours really touched me today. My grandfather was a Wesleyan Pastor and very influential in building up the church in Indiana and Florida. I'm very proud of that but in my own family we constantly struggled to find a church where we felt we belonged. Eventually my family stopped going but I continued until I too finally got tired of the inconsistencies, irreverence and erroneous teachings. I'm thankful for my personal relationship worth God because it got me through some very tough times but something was missing. I married a man whose family was Byzantine Catholic and over time started to realize that many of the things protestants believed about the Catholic faith was wrong. I'm still on my journey but I can now acknowledge that the Catholic Church was the original church that Peter built as instructed by Christ. I have for years believed in a unified church. I'm tired of the denominational wars and believe that the body of Christ needs the Catholic Church to unify them. There are still a few things that I'm working through, as I said, I'm still on my journey. I'm continuing to research and pray and hope that God will reveal the truth and His will for me. I will not get any support from my family, in fact, this may be the last straw that gets me shunned, should I chose to convert. It is not an easy decision but I'm desperate to find the truth. This will be my 4th Easter vigil in a Catholic Church. Maybe next year (2016) I'll be joining the church... I just wanted to thank you for your testimony. Like I said, it really touched me and I've been looking for these types of personal testimonials from baptized Christians who made this monumental decision.

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