Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Heidi! My husband and I live on an 8 acre homestead in rural Minnesota with our 7 living children. In addition to homeschooling and homesteading, I am also an author, speaker, and curriculum designer. When I have spare time, which I usually don’t, I love fiber arts such as sewing, knitting, crocheting, etc.
Tell us how you became interested in Catholicism.
We became Catholic 8 years ago. We made a lot of steps towards Catholicism that we didn’t realize were steps, but the big final push was looking for a Church that considered our miscarried and stillborn babies people. We had moved around a lot and in the mainline protestant denominations we found that each individual congregation was free to believe whatever they wanted about this in many cases, or was unwilling to make a statement about the sanctity of human life at all.
What were some of the barriers you had and struggles you faced on the road to becoming Catholic?
The hardest part for us as a couple was overcoming all of the things we had been told about the Church incorrectly. We had both grown up in fairly Catholic-negative churches and we learned a lot of wrong information about the role of the Pope, women in the church, and Mary and the saints. We had to really commit to listening and being corrected about what we thought Catholics believe.
Now our struggle is that we often feel ten steps behind. We didn’t grow up with customs that so many Catholics, even marginal and poorly catechized Catholics, take for granted. Our Catholic vocabulary is still growing every day. It has helped to have a few close friends we can call and say, Hey- can you explain this to us!
Was there a defining moment or series of moments that cemented your decision to convert?
Due to those misunderstandings I mentioned above, my husband was firmly against becoming Catholic. The problem is, God had gotten on our hearts early in our marriage about being open to life, Natural Family Planning, and the dignity of the unborn. Our early marriage cemented our beliefs about these things in a solidly Catholic way without us realizing they were Catholic beliefs at the time. When it became clear to us that we needed to find a new church home that shared all of these beliefs as strongly as we did, it turned out being Catholic was the only choice!
What was your experience with RCIA?
RCIA was honestly very difficult for us. We were a NFP-practicing protestant couple who rarely missed a Sunday of church. Our children were all baptized and while our family prayer life was still developing, we were learning together. Living in Utah at the time, many of the people in our RCIA class were in the place of never having been validly baptized or a single person wanting to be confirmed in order to marry in the church…and the catechesis was focused more on those places.
We had been told one thing about coming into the church at the Easter Vigil, but a couple weeks before the deacon leading our group pulled us aside and announced that he didn’t feel we (along with others in the group) were ready. I was honestly heartbroken. I felt like we were being punished for not fitting into the right mold of the curriculum the deacon had planned and that he didn’t want to make time to “get to us.”
In the end, my husband shared our frustrations with the parish priest who arranged for us to continue catechesis individually. This turned out to be a super amazing experience where we basically got to drill Father about all of our questions and concerns. Our kids were even included which was great. We were not, however, received at the Easter Vigil, instead receiving our First Communion and Confirmation on a random Sunday in August. I’m glad not to have been made to wait longer, but the Easter Vigil is such a beautiful expression of our faith I admit to still being a little sad that I can’t say every Easter Vigil is our church-iversary.
How has your relationship with Jesus changed since becoming Catholic? Your relationship with yourself? With others?
A practicing Christian before my conversion to Catholicism, I didn’t expect my relationship with Jesus to be radically changed by becoming Catholic. I initially thought it would be just like going to a different church on Sunday morning and that would be it. Over time, however, my prayer life (and the prayer life of my husband and kids) has exploded in unexpected ways. I love meeting Jesus in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist more than I could ever hope to explain! While there have been (and continue to be) moments of spiritual dryness, frustration, and doubt, as a Catholic I feel like I have this whole toolbox of ways to meet Jesus even when I’m totally lost (and I’m often totally lost!).
The teachings of the church on marriage and family life have been a beautiful affirmation of my role as a woman, but also a continual call to be better as a wife and as a mother. NFP has been an integral piece of our marital relationship since before our conversion, but as we grow as Catholic Christians we are continually amazed by all the ways it has blessed our family even during times of great loss.
Tell us your favorite Catholic book or author and why.
I legitimately couldn’t answer that!
What would you say to someone who was thinking of becoming Catholic?
Speak your struggles and your doubts to the right people. Your non-Catholic friends and family are highly unlikely to encourage you towards the truths of our faith because they simply don’t know them. Like me, once upon a time, they may even understand things in a way that is frankly wrong. Find someone willing to be peppered with all your questions who isn’t afraid of answering your doubts and digging deep alongside you. That little voice in your head or in your heart that feels like there might be something to this whole Catholic business is right!