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Former Protestant Pastor Helps Shepherd Catholic Converts

10/9/2003 - 6:15 AM PST

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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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1 - 4 of 4 Comments

  1. Anita Fernandes
    4 years ago

    I am from India and I am a Catholic. All the women in my community had a special devotion to Our Lady. In Asia the Mother of the family is revered and given special respect and honor and we do the same when it comes to Mary the Mother of God. If God chose her to be the Mother of Jesus who are we to question that. Jesus listens to his Mother. I have had many situations in life where I have felt calm after reciting the Rosary. To this day I start reciting the Hail Mary when I am scared and I calm down immediately. Our Priest always asked us to respect all religions and we do that. Show respect to the Mother of God and you will always be blessed. Amen!

  2. Elizabeth
    5 years ago

    This article has really helped me in not feeling alone in my desire to convert to the Catholic Church. I was raised Free Presbyterian and as an adult I was baptized Baptist. I have been struggling with converting to Catholicism for over 5 years now and it's mainly due to some of the teachings from my childhood, which have basically taught me that I would go to hell if I ever considered conversion.
    I of course know that this is not true. I have begun to learn many of the truths of the Catholic tradition and my family and I are beginning to attend the Catholic Church here in town. I often wondered why Mary was never given proper reverence in my church as I have always believed that Jesus revered her and if she was chosen by God and blessed, then we should do the same. I have also always believed in the saints and in miracles. My truth I believe is the Catholic faith simply because I believe in many of the things that the Catholic Church teaches and my church did not.
    My journey is still a very new one and has been filled with prayer and reflection. Thank you for making me feel less alone and for confirming my suspicion that many Protestants choose Catholicism and that's an okay thing to do.

    Thanks,
    Elizabeth

  3. gailkohler
    5 years ago

    I understand your comment and subsequent point of view. However, being raised Lutheran and changing primarily upon marriage and wanting our family to all be united, I discovered, through prayer and meditation and simply, that Mary, mother of God obviously should and would intercede on our early behalfs, as well as guiding, nurturing, and protecting us from all evil as any good mother would, especially mother of God. I never really understood the Lutheran Church which I was raised in, baptised, & confirmed, not placing Mary, or for that the other saints, any particular place in the church other than communion time while repeating the Nicene Creed, and weekly, the Apostle's Creed which indeed recognized the intercession of saints. I am one that questions everthing in life and always have been known to play (excuse me, the devil's advocate,) but I always wondered why at least my former chuch left so much to be desired.

    Thanks,

    Gail

    So sorry, but my e-mail address is not working so I can only send and not receive personnally.

    Thanks, and great question. I would love to hear from someone who is astute in both denominations.

  4. k halvermann
    6 years ago

    Marcus !
    Did you ever realize that in the entire Bible there is no indication that any of the evangelists/apostles when they were in the presence of Mary EVER prayed to her, knelt down before her, asked her for intercessions, referred to her as Queen of Heaven etc. The cult of Mary has no validity in the Bible. Solo Deo Gloria ! By Grace we are saved through faith in Jesus is the entire message of scripture. I am very concerned how you are leading people into the devious cult of Mariology. May the Lord have mercy on your soul !
    Yours in Christ !

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