Mission, Ministry and 'The Journey Home'
BY Dan Burke
Register Executive Director
March 11-24, 2012 Issue | Posted 3/5/12 at 11:12 AM
In 1992, Marcus Grodi, a former Presbyterian minister, was received into the Catholic Church. Not long afterwards, he founded The Coming Home Network International (CHNetwork) to help non-Catholic clergy and others come home to the Church.
For the last 15 years, Grodi has also served as host of EWTN’s popular show The Journey Home and for five years the Deep in Scripture radio program. The Register’s Dan Burke caught up with him in his Zanesville, Ohio, office recently to discuss his mission, ministry and the impact of the show.
What was the tipping point of your conversion to Catholicism?
It didn’t really happen in a particular moment; it was more a process of discovery. Various things opened my heart to the Church before we even considered Catholicism. Over about 10 years, I came to the realization that the cacophony of voices within Protestantism couldn’t agree on anything. I felt that, as an ordained minister, I was accountable before God to preach truth, and this led to my resignation from the ministry. The other major issue was confronting 1 Timothy 3:15 [But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.”] through my seminary classmate Scott Hahn and realizing that the pillar and bulwark of truth is the Church.
What was the hardest part of your conversion process?
Certainly leaving the pastorate and losing friends was hard, but the most difficult challenges were doctrines such as the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and praying to Mary and the saints. However, reading the early Church Fathers helped.
How did it affect your family? Was it difficult for them?
Fortunately, my wife, Marilyn, and I came into the Church together. We shared the journey all along, but it was the pro-life issues that most opened her heart. She was once a crisis-pregnancy center director and admired Catholics. My mother’s first reaction was tears: to think we were joining the Church of drinkers, gamblers and the mafia. Since then, however, she has come into the Church. Though my father was not active in his Protestant faith, he admired St. Thomas More and finally met with a priest on the day he died.
What prompted you to start The Coming Home Network?
Before I heard of Scott Hahn’s conversion, I had never heard of a Protestant minister becoming Catholic. After my journey began, I discovered others, such as Father Ray Ryland and Steve Wood. Over time, I began meeting many others. It was like going to a conference and discovering that we all came from the same place and could have carpooled. Many on the journey and converts admitted feeling very much alone — we couldn’t talk to Protestant friends and didn’t know any faithful Catholics. So CHNetwork, which began with a newsletter, was formed to provide fellowship and support.
How many people has the CHNetwork helped come home to the Church?
We purposely don’t count “scalps,” because it’s the Holy Spirit who brings people into the Church. Having said that, over 2,000 “primary” members (non-Catholic clergy or those whose conversion costs them their jobs) have contacted us over the years. Of those, about half have come home to the Church, while the other half are still somewhere on the journey.
Which of these stories tend to stand out in your mind?
All of them. I enjoy doing every single Journey Home show; the stories fascinate me. Of course, some stick out as particularly memorable or inspiring, but it’s hard to single any one out. Every firsthand testimony of the work of the Spirit in someone’s soul is in essence the theological virtue of faith coming alive.
How can people learn more about CHNetwork, and where can they find your shows and resources?
We invite everyone to become members of CHNetwork on our website at CHNetwork.org/members/. The newsletter is better than ever, and members receive it by mail or electronically. In addition, The Journey Home show’s website is found at EWTN.com/tv/live/journeyhome.asp.
What else are you up to these days?
Well, I’ve just completed my second novel, Pillar and Bulwark, the sequel to my first novel, How Firm a Foundation. Both this new book and a fully edited revision of the first are now available. The reason I ventured into Catholic fiction was to reach my father, who could not understand why Marilyn and I would leave the pastorate to become Catholic. Since he loved fiction, I decided to use that medium to get past his intransigence. The goal isn’t apologetics, but to show the psychological barriers, relational struggles and internal reasoning of conversion. I hope that both novels open the hearts of many people to the Church.
Dan Burke is the Register’s executive director.
Note: Pillar and Bulwark and How Firm a Foundation can be ordered on CHNetwork’s website at CHNetwork.org.
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