Judy Roberts is a journalist who has worked for both the secular and Catholic press. In addition to the Register, she has written for Legatus Magazine, Franciscan Way and Our Sunday Visitor, and is a former religious books reviewer for Publishers Weekly. She also blogs about living more serenely in a busy world at quietkeepers.com.
Everyone loves a captivating conversion story, and pro-life speaker Patricia Sandoval’s has all the elements of one in the transformation of a life ravaged by abortion, drug abuse and the occult.
In collaboration with co-author Christine Watkins, Sandoval details her metamorphosis in Transfigured, a new book being released by Queen of Peace Media in time for this year’s March for Life. Her story also will air on EWTN on Jan. 19, and again on Jan. 27. (Check here for the schedule in your area.)
Sandoval began life well enough with her parents, older sister and younger brother, and the assurance that she was her mother’s little princess. But she soon evolved into an insecure, insatiable people-pleaser longing for someone to tell her she was beautiful and strong.
Although the Sandovals were Catholic and Patricia received her First Communion at 7, they did not go to church. Yet an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus hung in their home and Sandoval was told, “This is your Papi Dios (Daddy God) who takes care of you in heaven. He’s with the angels.” When she was 3, Sandoval claims she had a “miraculous encounter” in which Jesus transported her to heaven to play with the angels.
Her mother knew of the story and even urged her to retell it, but later developed an interest in the New Age, becoming a passionate devotee of Deepak Chopra and Sophia Brown and embracing practices involving crystals, chakras and tarot cards. Worse, she drew her children into her web.
Still, to Sandoval, nothing seemed amiss until she was 12 and her parents announced they were divorcing. Despite one attempt at reconciliation, the couple finally separated permanently and Sandoval ended up on her own, living with a friend who ran with a crowd that introduced her to cocaine. From there, her life spiraled downward.
At 19, she had her first abortion, telling the father, who wanted the child, that she had miscarried. Within five months, she was pregnant by the same man again and had a second abortion before he even knew she was carrying his child. Her third pregnancy occurred five months later, again with the same man, and this time, he agreed to the abortion. Soon after, their relationship ended.
By then, Sandoval was 20, and, deciding she wanted a new life, answered an ad for a Spanish-speaking staff person at Planned Parenthood. “My spirits lifted with the thought of working for them because they had been so nice to me during and after my abortions and so generous in giving me free contraceptives. I felt like I owed them a favor.”
Sandoval got the job and was told she would be assisting the doctors and helping counsel women who were planning to abort. She was instructed never to use the terms “baby,” “he,” or “she” when talking about a pregnancy, only “it” or a “sac,” and never to tell anyone what she saw.
Although she supported abortion, she couldn’t help noticing a difference between the way women who were keeping their babies and those having abortions were treated. With the former, she said, “. . . the staff would joyfully call the ‘sac’ a baby. The mothers-to-be were allowed to see the ultrasound screen and talk about the baby’s heartbeat, his five little toes, her developing organs.” Yet those planning to abort were not permitted to view the ultrasound images and their babies were called “blobs,” “cells,” “clusters,” “tissue,” “sacs” and “its.”
After two weeks, Sandoval left the job, unable to face the prospect of assisting with a late-term abortion of twins. She took up with an old boyfriend who was a drug addict and got her using methamphetamines, plunging her deeper into darkness. Eventually, Sandoval became a homeless addict. Over the next three years, she lived in crack houses, hotel rooms and on the streets. Finally, the boyfriend left her with nothing. As she sat devastated on a curb in a parking lot praying for help, a waitress from a nearby restaurant approached and told her, “Jesus loves you.” The woman got her a meal and said she would take her “where home is.”
Sandoval asked to go to her father’s house, where she begged forgiveness and was received as a prodigal daughter. She also reconnected with her mother who, by then, had returned to the Church and abandoned her New Age practices.
Under her mother’s influence, Sandoval went back to the Church, too, but hers was not a neat, one-time conversion. Rather, it was the beginning of a journey to wholeness and healing marked by a series of detours back into sex and drugs. Along the way, Sandoval recounts several remarkable occurrences in which she believes the hand of God reached out to her. She also writes graphically of demonic attacks she says occurred at various times to discourage her from leaving her life of sin and proclaiming the pro-life message.
Finally, while living in Mexico, Sandoval is strengthened by the stories her grandmother tells her about her great-grandfather and six great-uncles, all of whom were killed during the Cristero War. “To be the descendant of someone who gave up his life for Christ was a gift that meant everything to me,” she writes. “With a lineage of such committed belief, a powerful awakening came over me to be bold in my faith.”
Sandoval and Watkins, who is founder and CEO of Queen of Peace Media, have interspersed this incredible story with relevant scripture verses, links to YouTube videos in which Sandoval speaks, and sets of facts on topics like abortion, sexual activity and the Catholic faith. These give Sandoval’s compelling story context and texture, making it more than a riveting tale, but a hopeful guide for those whose lives have been caught up in the desolation so prevalent in such a time as this.