How I found happiness in the place I least expected
I had developed a hatred of men, patriarchy, and what I thought Catholics represented. I thought they were thieves and oppressors of women. They were the worst kind, and I swore I’d never go near them.
As a lover of history, I wondered about Henry VIII. I couldn’t believe someone so reportedly terrible could really be all bad. He had to have some humanity somewhere, right? I decided to dig and find it. He was maligned, I was convinced of it.
During these studies, I finally truly became aware of what Protestantism was, or so I thought. I also couldn’t understand why Katherine of Aragon or any self respecting woman could tolerate his behavior. Then I discovered she was Catholic and cringed. Still, why was she also so unswervingly loyal to an oppressive church that hated women?
I kept digging, and was mightily surprised to find that the Catholic Church’s teachings regarding social justice issues, contraception, and abortion matched my own. I was also very surprised to discover their view of Mary, women, and the importance of the traditional family unit. I started to feel something that I couldn’t describe, but resisted. And then there was Jesus in the center of everything. I was so overjoyed to know that Jesus existed there. I failed to even notice that a year had gone by and I’d left behind my old friends for this new information.
Finally, I decided that I wanted to find out what a Mass actually entailed. This entire time, a Catholic Church stood at the end of my street. I had stared at it for one year in earnest but had never set foot on the property. I walked inside, and they were getting ready to hold a Mass. It was Easter 2011. I watched, mesmerized. I held my tears, my emotions, all of it inside. I started to feel that pull once again.
I went home. I kept wondering. Finally one day I marched into a building in the back, running straight into a woman who asked what I had come looking for. I told her I needed an education. She laughed, informed me that she was the director of religious education and signed me in for RCIA classes.
The parish priest came and spoke with me, and said "I have never heard of someone coming into the Church via Henry VIII before," and handed me a book to take home.
As classes began, I fell more and more in love. I got to know my parish priest, and a couple who would sponsor me.
At the washing of the feet I cried quietly. I met our bishop and I cried again.
The Church was the reverse of every single thing I had ever thought it was.
When I announced that I was joining the Church, my friends were aghast and my mother said "why would you do a thing like that", but my husband brought me my first statues of Mary and Saint Jude.
At my baptism, April 7, 2012 I was so happy that I cried. I then spent time alone with Jesus’ body and cried in gratitude. After all my years of searching for the truth, I had found it.
When I was unbaptized I had been taught do whatever I chose. I spent years angry, stubbornly defiant in my right to choose as a feminist and a pagan. Now, I chose to be baptized into God’s Church. I gained a worldwide family.
Amazingly, my husband is signing up for RCIA. My mother finally says a God exists and reads the Bible. My son was blessed and laid to rest a Catholic, by the very priest who baptized me.
I finally found my friend Jesus again, in his absolute fullness and origin.
I learned the value and true beauty of being a woman. In the purest sense I discovered my real right to choose. I love my church. I love my family. I love my parish. I love my priest. And I am so very, very thankful to be home.
Catherine Quinnis a phlebotomist and Laboratory Technician. Married nearly four years, she is the mother of one child in heaven and a Sidewalk Counselor.