Tell us a little about yourself.

Hey, y’all, I’m Meredith. I was born and raised Southern Baptist in northwest Louisiana, aka the Bible Belt. In college, I took an internship at the Family Research Council  in DC where I met my husband. I had every intention of becoming a lawyer, but instead I became Catholic. We lived in DC for four years where we started our little family and converted. We have since moved to Dallas where we now live with our four soon to be 5 kids, just loving Jesus, each other, and our little Catholic school community.  I love being a wife and mom, but if you had told me 11 years ago I’d be married, Catholic, and have 4 kids, I would have run so fast in the opposite direction like my life depended on it. Funny how God works huh?

The Vanderplas Family

Tell us how you became interested in Catholicism.

My husband and I both entered into full communion with the Church at the Easter Vigil, 2011 in the Arlington Diocese. We had both been exploring Catholicism off and on for about 5 years prior to enrolling in RCIA. After our son was born, we started becoming a little more intentional about where we were headed in our faith life and how we were going to form him and lead him into a relationship with Jesus.

We had been attending our local Anglican parish for about a year when things started to shift in a direction we weren’t comfortable with, so we took the opportunity to take a break and finally solve the big Catholic question cloud once and for all. Little did we know we would both be confirmed a year later. I am so grateful for all the ways God moved and acted in our lives to help bring us both home, and at the same time too! It has been the greatest blessing of my life.

What were some of the barriers you had and struggles you faced on the road to becoming Catholic?

Oh goodness, it would be easier to name the things that weren’t barriers! Being raised Southern Baptist in a rather anti-Catholic environment, there was mountain upon mountain of misconception,  falsehoods, and assumptions that I had to put right before I could be in a place to receive all the truth, goodness, and beauty that the Church had to offer. I would say one of the biggest hurdles we had to jump was the primacy and infallibility of the Pope. That one took the longest to resolve, but after reading a lot from early church fathers, we were good to go. (Thank you Justin Martyr!)

We also combed through various issues that were foreign to us such as infant baptism, intercession of the saints, Marian theology, confession, etc., but the one thing that kept us going was the newly realized truth that Christ was present, body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Blessed Sacrament. That was everything to me. With that one realization, every other denomination suddenly seemed like a waste of time.

There are still things that come up from time to time, not as a matter of acceptance, but as a matter of understanding. I’m not sure I’ll full understand certain teachings like co-redeeming, merit, and other related teachings this side of Heaven. When it comes to understanding things better, the Catechism is my best friend. I also have two wonderful spiritual directors that have helped me along the path of understanding, and of course if I have more questions, Scott Hahn has probably answered it in one of his amazing books.

Was there a defining moment or series of moments that cemented your decision to convert?

I always like to think my whole life and relationship with Our Lord was building to my conversion. Truly no detail was insignificant. I had a solid faith foundation being raised in a devout Christian home and being surrounded by people who loved Jesus and the Gospel. I just always had a sense that there was something more, and while I never purposefully went out looking for it, and there was never a desire to reject my upbringing I was simply hungry and waiting for Jesus to reveal Himself more fully. Thankfully, through many tiny and enormous encounters with faithful brothers and sisters over the course of six years, my prayers were answered.

My greatest hope and prayer is that you never take for granted or shrug off even the smallest opportunity to share your faith beautifully and authentically with anyone you have opportunity to do so. You never know when a tiny trickle will become a rushing river.

What was your experience with RCIA?

Our program was good, but if I’m being honest it could have been tons better. I kind of wish there were levels of RCIA like beginner, intermediate, etc. If you’re going to require a course for confirmation, we might as well meet people where they’re at instead of putting them all at the most basic starting point.

Many adults coming into RCIA were open and eager for much higher level teaching, especially considering we met once a week for nine months. I enjoyed it, but I had to do huge amounts of extra homework and research on the side in order to thoroughly address, understand, and accept every little teaching pertinent to my conversion.

I will say though RCIA was so much fun for my husband and I to go through together. We met so many wonderful people and really bonded as a group.

How has your relationship with Jesus changed since becoming Catholic? Your relationship with yourself? With others?

I have been overwhelmed with a sense of peace since my homecoming. I’m no longer searching and waiting for God to reveal Himself to me. He is faithful to do just that over and over again in the sacraments, and those are always only a day away if I need them to be. He truly is the bread of life and living water! He satisfies!

My relationship with Him has taken on a new nature through the sacraments. I fully rely on Him and lean on Him much more than I did before my conversion. I’ve come face to face with His passion, death, and resurrection in a way I never had before and His love for me is so tangible now.

I am much more patient with myself, and I am working on becoming more patient and loving with others, because I’m overwhelmed by His love for us, it just moves you towards righteousness and sanctification…a lifelong journey for me to be sure.

Tell us your favorite Catholic book or author and why.

Of all time? Wow that’s a tough one! I’d like to narrow this down to the genre of conversion/apologetics books. I loved Rome Sweet Home by Scott Hahn! I’ve read it twice and would easily read it again. I love so many of Scott Hahn’s books and talks. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there is something so compelling about Hahn’s personal testimony. His charismatic storytelling, his intellectual way of processing through his conversion, his background as a protestant pastor – it was all just a huge boon to me during my journey home.

What would you say to someone who was thinking of becoming Catholic?

Do yourself a favor and be open to where the Holy Spirit might be leading you. Try to focus on what Jesus wants for your life more than the nitty gritty details of doctrine and theology. While those things are of course extremely important, it’s most important to keep the love and mercy of our Father first and foremost. I’ve never once regretted following His lead. Thy will be done. Amen?

Final thoughts you want to share.

If you are reading this as someone outside of the church with questions, I would be more than happy to chat with you anytime. My life has never been the same since my decision to become Catholic and it would be a joy and an honor to talk with you about questions or curiosities you might have. You can reach out to me via Instagram direct message anytime!

Meredith prays the Divine Mercy Chaplet live daily on Instagram at 3pm CT. She makes the video available for 24 hours after for those who can’t join at that time. Follow her handle @dailydivinemercy to join the amazing prayer community she has started!