The Real Thing

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Holly, and I am wife to Shane and mom of two boys. I work at my parish and am also a theology student. We live in the Midwest, and I made the jump to theology/parish work after an 8 year career as a portrait/wedding photographer. I can still often be found with a camera in my hand, especially at family and parish events.

Holly and her family, about a year before becoming Catholic.

Tell us how you became interested in Catholicism.

I had sent my oldest son, who was then in third grade, to the local Catholic school. I knew nothing about the Catholic faith, I sent him there for the academic standards and the small class sizes. One day he came home from school and told me the priest had given them all wine. There was a special Mass the next day and the Precious Blood would be given, when it usually wasn’t at school masses. The priest had let them taste a tiny bit of unconsecrated wine in preparation. I had grown up Methodist, and didn’t even know churches still used wine at communion. I was quite concerned, and more so concerned when I questioned him about it and his response was “We were practicing because tomorrow the Catholic kids are going to drink blood.” After he informed me that communion is in fact not symbolic, I thought I had better start doing some research. I did a quick Google search, and discovered what Catholics believe about Communion which was a huge shock to me. I ordered the first book I could find on the Catholic faith, which was Waking Up Catholic by Chad Torgerson. I had known nothing about the Catholic faith, and this book spelled everything out in a simple, concise and clear way. By the end, I knew something had changed.

It’s interesting because as a child, when receiving communion in Protestant church for the first time, I was frightened because I thought, judging from the reading of the Last Supper the minister recited, that I was eating a person. I remember crying to my sister out of fear and arguing with her when she told me it was a symbol because “that’s not what the reading said!” Twenty years later I found out I had the right idea all along!

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

Mary was difficult for me at first, since I had heard so often that Catholics worship her, which is a common thing among converts I think. I’ve studied Mariology quite a bit, but the simplest and most helpful thing anyone told me was to explain that the word “pray” simply means to “ask.” Prayer is not worship, and asking Mary or any Saint to pray for us is just like asking someone here on earth to do the same.

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

Mostly a series of things, but Eucharistic Miracles were huge for me, and Apostolic Succession. Eucharistic Miracles are instances in which the consecrated bread and/or wine actually presents as flesh and blood instead of under the veil of the bread and wine. There have been many throughout the history of the Church, and all that have been scientifically tested have matching DNA, are live flesh, and are part of the heart muscle. Their DNA also matches the Shroud of Turin.  It’s fascinating.

Apostolic Succession is the unbroken line of popes and bishops from Saint Peter, right down to Pope Francis. I love history, and studying this was really a turning point for me.  

What was your experience with RCIA?

I come from a small town, and a pretty small parish. We didn’t have a priest at the time that I was in RCIA, so it was led by our deacon and his wife. It was a pretty close knit group, with some good discussion. We had a lot of visiting priests come on Sundays, so we got to experience the slight differences each priest brings to the Liturgy, which helped me see that while the Church is very strict on liturgical norms, there are many different options allowed within those rubrics.

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

Jesus is much more tangible to me now that I have experienced the Real Presence. It’s beautiful to be able to walk into a Church and sit with the Creator of the Universe. I think when your relationship with Jesus changes and grows that has a direct affect on all other relationships. So I would say that I try to be more aware and intentional both with myself and with others, and that stems from me being more aware of Jesus.

Right and Left: Scenes from Holly’s Final Oblation as a Third Order/Lay Benedictine.
More on this order here.

Tell us your favorite Catholic book or author and why.

This is probably the most difficult question on here! It’s incredibly hard to choose a favorite. Currently I am reading In Sinu Jesu, which states it was authored by simply “a Benedictine Monk.” It is a journal of a priest at prayer in Adoration and documents what Jesus spoke to him. It’s beautiful and quite eye opening.  

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

Study Church history, and look beyond the myths you may hear. Many negative things about Catholic beliefs are simply misinterpretations and do not accurately represent what the Church believes or teaches. Also, get to know the Church fathers!

Holly blogs for Tommy Tighe’s The Catholic Hipster. You can read her work and find out more about The Catholic Hipster here: Holly’s Posts | Main webpage