Marcus Grodi’s pun for life could be “Done Roman” because when he was received into the Roman Catholic Church the former Protestant pastor had found his spiritual home and was finally “done roamin’.” Grodi was brought up in a nominally Christian home, trained as a chemical engineer and eventually, after a profound adult conversion experience, trained to be a Presbyterian pastor.
However, his experience welcoming new members from other Protestant denominations to his church began to disturb his Presbyterian certainties. Protestant pastor Grodi explained his Presbyterian beliefs from the Bible, but the other Protestant Christians responded by quoting the Scripture verses that supported their different convictions. Marcus began to realize that his interpretation of the Bible was filtered by his Presbyterian assumptions and traditions. Furthermore the same was true of the other Protestants. A conversation with his friend Scott Hahn helped him discover some Bible verses he had never seen before.
Scott asked, “What is the pillar and bulwark of truth?”
As a good Protestant, Grodi answered, “The Bible of course!”
Hahn replied, “But what does the Bible itself teach about that? Let’s look up 1 Timothy 3:15.”
Together they read the St. Paul’s words, “I am writing to you…so that you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”
Grodi explains, “I had simply never seen that verse. I had no answer. If the church was the pillar and bulwark of the truth where could I find such a church? Clearly the thousands of Protestant churches with their contradictory doctrines and disciplines could not be that church.”
Another key passage was 2 Thessalonians 2:15 in which St. Paul writes, “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.”
If the Sacred Scriptures were the sole foundation for Christian doctrine and discipline, as the Protestant doctrine of sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) asserts, then why was St. Paul telling the Christians in Thessalonica to “stand firm and hold fast to the teachings” he had passed on by both “word of mouth and by letter”?
Grodi was seeing for the first time that the apostolic teaching was not only in written form, but also through a living oral tradition. The Catholic Church was the only Christian body that affirmed both the authority of Scripture and a dynamic, ongoing voice of authority in the church.”
Eventually Grodi resigned from his post as senior pastor of a large Presbyterian congregation and was received with his family into the Catholic Church. In 1993 he established an apostolate to assist other Protestant pastors on the same journey “home to Rome.” About the same time he was invited to host a new program for the Eternal Word Television Network called TheJourney Home. Each week Grodi interviews a convert to Catholicism, and over the years the Journey Home program has become one of EWTN’s most popular shows.
Grodi is more than a Catholic television personality. He has written or edited seven books and contributed to several others. In addition to the weekly TV show, Grodi’s apostolate sponsors conferences, has hosted a radio show, publishes a regular newsletter and works quietly and confidentially with clergy converts as they enquire about the Catholic faith.
He and his team at The Coming Home Network are in constant contact with an increasing number of Protestant clergy. While their work is approved by the church, they fund their work through donations, receiving no formal financial support from diocesan authorities. Over the years they have assisted nearly 1,000 into full communion from over 100 different denominations. They maintain a nationwide network of 1,500 mentors who have already made the journey and put enquirers in touch with a local friend who will answer their questions, pray for them and support them and their families in their quest.
The difficulties potential clergy converts face are daunting. A Protestant pastor who hears the call to become Catholic not only faces the loss of his rewarding job, vocation and livelihood, but also a huge upheaval and radical uncertainties. Usually the man has a wife and children to support, and has trained for no other career. Salaried posts in the Catholic church are hard to come by and without job experience outside the church, he faces unemployment and the rigors of re-training and rejection in mid life. Very often the man’s wife will not be at the same place of spiritual acceptance. Marriage problems develop and strains within his network of family and friends can develop into broken relationships, alienation and rejection.
We often think of ecumenism as consisting of no more than friendly talks with Christians of non-Catholic denominations. The Coming Home Network approaches the question of church unity with practical apologetics, pointed advice and practical assistance. They realize that unity amongst Christians is a reality when, one by one Protestant pastors come to accept the claims of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and take the first step on the long journey home.
To learn more about the work of Marcus Grodi and the Coming Home Network visit their website.