Former Protestant Pastor Helps Shepherd Catholic Converts
Marcus Grodi's Coming Home Network Focuses on Inquiring Clergy
ZANESVILLE, Ohio, OCT. 8, 2003 (Zenit) - Every year, about 100 clergy from dozens of denominations make a step toward the Catholic Church by contacting the Coming Home Network International.
The network, which has 800-some clergy members who have converted or are still discerning their conversion, connects those inquirers with others from the same background who have converted to Catholicism, and provides them with prayerful, moral and sometimes financial support.
Marcus Grodi, who was a Congregationalist and Presbyterian pastor before coming into the Catholic Church in 1992, established the network the year after he converted and still serves as its executive director and president.
Grodi also is the author of "How Firm a Foundation" (Coming Home Resources), a fiction book about a pastor struggling in search of truth. He is also the host of an EWTN show about conversion experiences called "Journeys Home."
Q: What is the Coming Home Network, and why was it formed?
Grodi: It is a nonprofit lay apostolate started in 1993 primarily to assist Protestant clergy and their families, as well as Protestant laity, in coming home to the Catholic Church.
The need for this "network" of fellowship and assistance rose out of my own experience, as well as that of other clergy converts, who felt very much alone on our journeys, leaving behind our vocations and livelihood as Protestant clergy.
We felt alone for many reasons: None of our lifelong Protestant friends, family or co-workers could appreciate why we might be willing to give up everything to become, of all things, Roman Catholic. And because of the narrow focus of our Protestant lives and work, we knew few Catholics, lay or clergy.
Besides, most of the Catholics we approached, lay or clergy, did not know how to help us. Too many claimed that, "Since Vatican II, a Protestant doesn't need to convert. Just stay where you are. Don't make an unnecessary mess of your life. Don't abandon your ministry."
Actually, the most difficult struggle for most Protestant clergy inquirers is within the immediate family: spouses who do not understand and are not supportive of their husbands' willingness to put their families in jeopardy.
The Coming Home Network International's charism is to stand beside Protestant inquirers. We are not here to inordinately push, pull or prod them home, though we do believe -- like John Henry Cardinal Newman -- that there is but one flock and that our separated brethren should come home.
Our staff and extensive Helpers Network of volunteers is always available to them by phone, mail, e-mail, or if possible, in person to answer their questions and provide whatever resources are necessary to help them home.
Q: What are the typical convert's needs and how does your organization meet them?
Grodi: The initial need of most of the clergy and laity who contact us is for a supportive friend who can understand from personal experience the trauma they may be experiencing as a result of discovering their need to become Roman Catholic.
For many of these men, and sometimes women, clergy, the last thing they had ever considered is becoming Catholic. But then, usually through a variety of sources -- personal crisis, scriptural study, readings of the early Church Fathers, the witness of a convert, Catholic television, radio or Internet -- their hearts are touched and the foundations of their presumably stable Protestant faith and lives are rocked. They call us because they feel they have nowhere else to go.
Because of our large database of converts, lay and clergy, from more than 60 different denominations and traditions, we are able to link them up with a convert who has come into the Catholic Church from the inquirer's own specific Christian background. We also have a large selection of carefully chosen books and resources that we can give them to help answer their specific questions about the Catholic faith, many issued by our publishing house, Coming Home Resources.
Because the clergy are abandoning their vocations and livelihood, we provide counseling as well as contacts to help them find ways to support their families as well as use their ministerial gifts. If they face financial setbacks because of their conversion, we have a financial assistance fund to meet their short-term needs.
We also stand as their advocates to their local dioceses and bishops if they are called to pursue the priesthood.
Q: What are the greatest challenges unique to Protestant clergy who convert to Catholicism?
Grodi: The unique struggle for clergy revolves around their calling and ordination as Protestant clergy. All of their lives, all of their ...
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