Conversion Stories

The Easter season is a time to recognize the new ways God is working in our lives, calling us to new light and life. The gift of divine life God shares with us through Jesus Christ calls us to renewal and conversion. During the Easter season of 2017 we gathered and shared stories about conversion here.

God Was Doing a Great Work in Me

The poverty I encountered in Peru unflinchingly challenged me and led me to despair. I could see exactly how people were suffering—lives taken or ruined, livelihoods destroyed, voices denied—because of the economics, politics, and social theories I believed in and had accepted as part of my worldview. These structures offered these people no hope at all. Sharing their reality shattered my worldview. 

Beauty Has Taken Hold of Me

Suddenly I began to see that religion wasn’t blind, or comfortable, or foolish. It was something so true that it brought brilliant people to lay down their lives, their possessions, and control for the service of this truth. It was their witness that kept me up at night thinking about the implications of saying “yes” to the God of truth.

A Gift, not a Chore

My morning prayer time has typically included reading the daily Mass readings. But, truth be told, I was reading them quickly and inattentively to cross them off my mental morning to-do list. My spiritual director suggested that I read much more slowly, stopping and praying with any words or phrases that stick out to me, a variation of a prayer style known as Lectio Divina, or “divine reading.” 

What Faith is About

Kevin Kearney ’72, ’76 M.Theo.

Several years ago I was working for a start-up biotech company. It was exciting and challenging, and we had a sense that we could do something that could benefit many people. For quite a few years, things at our company were going well. We were achieving milestones, mostly on schedule. And then, one day we were all called into a meeting and told that it was all over. 

Who I Am is Not What I Do

I sat on the white sand, gazing out into the ocean. The salty sea air enveloped me and the rhythmic crash of the waves against the shoreline soothed my aching heart. I felt that if I could just sit there long enough, my frustration would gradually go out with the receding tide. I was 25 and had just moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with my husband and two young children. Aside from them, I didn’t know a soul. And I was starting to wonder if I really knew myself. 

The Trajectory of My Life Changed that Night

Claire Cepla ’17 M.Div.

I had a 4.0 GPA, impressive internships, an exceptional alcohol tolerance, and I was in the best shape of my life. Altogether I had everything that was supposed to make a college girl happy—and yet I was miserable. I was a robot going through the motions of a life I was told I was supposed to live. And it wasn’t satisfying me.

A New Way of Seeing

It happened in Hazel’s eyes, which were a tantalizing hue befitting his name—soft yet deeply striking. As his words rushed past my ears, his eyes slowed to a dead stop on mine and, finally, mine on his. And there before me, more clearly than ever before in my life, I saw him, Hazel, and him, the Christ. In seeing Hazel, I saw Jesus seeing me.

A Daily Event

When I broke my leg in a wrestling match, it left me in various casts and crutches for two months. As a result, I told myself that I couldn’t serve at daily Mass, and therefore didn’t have to go. And you’d think that I would have been happier since I didn’t have to go to Mass more often than just on Sunday with my family. Honestly, though, the opposite was true. When I look back on those two months, I could see that something was missing.

Where the Action Is

Jonathan flopped to his stomach and began writhing like a worm. His father, a big man, leaned toward the ground, tucked a hand beneath his son’s belly, and swept the boy into a standing position. When Jonathan’s feet hit the hard floor, a sudden fit of coughing shook him from head to toe. Suddenly, a big piece of cookie popped out of his windpipe and shot across the room. The child had been choking to death at our feet. I know this because Jonathan screamed, “I couldn’t breathe! I was choking to death! I was dying!” 

The Back of His Hands

Suddenly, I saw the wounds. Blood-red gashes in his palms. Impossible to miss, at eye level from where he gazed down from his pedestal. For the first time I noticed the back of his hands. The side you can’t spy on crucifixes nailed to walls. I leaned forward. What did it mean that his wounds went all the way through?

Following Breadcrumbs Home

I started the RCIA process with Campus Ministry by sharing about my journey with God and identifying all of the breadcrumbs I had been following to arrive at that point. Although I had many doubts, questions, and fears, I felt guided by God throughout the process, which gave me the confidence I needed to continue.

Cognitive Dissonance at ND

Notre Dame students were constantly surprising me with how boldly Catholic they were without being condescendingly pious. They were unabashedly yet approachably holy. This four-year period was perhaps the most important if understated conversion of my life.

The Person in Front of You

I realized then, rather suddenly, that the people we’re sent to serve are the people in front of us—whoever they are in that moment. The person I’m meant to accompany is the person I am with. It surprised me then as it still does: we can collaborate with God’s grace anywhere and at any time. Read more>

'It was God who Chose You'

The priest who prepared me for Baptism told me, “Remember, you think you chose God, but it was God who chose you!” Indeed, I have had a strong conviction about divine providence ever since those early days. I realize that it was God who had given me the big questions when I was just 14. Read more>

'I Didn't Have that "Aha" Moment'

Twelve years ago I walked away from that retreat intending to leave it all behind me. What I didn’t know then that I know now is that the fire of the Holy Spirit was alive and well inside of me. Read more>

The Sticky Knot of Shame

Forgiving Mom requires me to see her as Jesus does and to embrace her human weaknesses, needs, and sorrows. Forgiving myself will require the same. Read more>

'And a Child Shall Lead Them'

By the time we arrived at the Easter Vigil, there was a certain buzz in the air. During the Baptisms, my station was next to the font—I had a front row seat to the conversions that were happening before my eyes. Read more>