Today we get to meet Elizabeth Gonzalez-Wong.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a newly married young adult working on the Hill in Washington, DC. I attended Vanderbilt University for my undergraduate education. Originally from the South, I moved to the Mid-Atlantic for graduate school at American University. It is there I met my husband and we settled down in Maryland.
Tell us how you became interested in Catholicism.
I converted to Catholicism five years ago, during my junior year of college. I was raised Evangelical Protestant, with no strong denominational ties. I attended church throughout my childhood, but late in high school I began to have questions about faith that didn’t add up in the Protestant tradition. Since church community is such a bedrock of social interaction in the South, I never felt comfortable voicing the simmering doubts. I spent time away from church during my first couple years in college, since I never could find the right church. I had some exposure to Catholicism growing up from my mom’s extended family who grew up practicing the faith. However, I didn’t begin to regularly attend mass until the summer after my sophomore year with college friends. When I returned to school, I found myself drawn back to the stillness and consistency of the mass. I began to desire the Eucharist more and more. I began taking RCIA classes through the university group, mostly to learn more about the faith without any formal plans to convert. But, by the time spring arrived, I knew I wanted to join the Church. I was confirmed during the Easter Vigil in 2014.
What were some of the barriers you had and struggles you faced on the road to becoming Catholic?
I struggled with Mary. Raised evangelical, “Mary worship” was the damning nail in the “Catholics aren’t Christians” coffin. I struggled with the rosary and the idea we could ask Mary for prayers. However, when I learned more about the theological understanding of Mary and her role as intercessor, I began to see the beauty in her feminine power in my life. I now actively ask for her prayers and intercessions.
Was there a defining moment or series of moments that cemented your decision to convert?
It was definitely a slow process. As I found myself constantly attending mass and desiring the Eucharist, it seemed logical to explore the possibility of converting.
What was your experience with RCIA?
I began attending RCIA through the student Catholic group at Vanderbilt. They had a faith formation class on Wednesday’s for students to learn and ask questions. It was definitely the least intimidating way to learn about the faith and continue to discern converting.
How has your relationship with Jesus changed since becoming Catholic? Your relationship with yourself? With others?
I feel a deeper connection to the Holy Spirit since my confirmation. I had the honor of journeying with both my aunt and my husband as they both went through the process of converting as well. I feel the choice to join the church opened so many spaces for the Lord to work in my life and the lives of those around me.
Tell us your favorite Catholic book or author and why.
I enjoy Scott Hann’s writing; his experience as a fellow convert really speaks to me.
What would you say to someone who was thinking of becoming Catholic?
I think a lot of the hesitancy to convert comes from the Church being a large, sometimes intimidating, space. But we are the church, the people inside, and if you feel drawn to the sacraments, consider talking to the people within the church.