Conversion Catalysts

Brother and Sister Bring Entire Family Into Church

Adam Lewis, 25, and Rachael Lewis, 22, grew up in a devout Christian home, never associating themselves with a specific denomination.

“The deposit of faith handed down to me by my parents molded my love for Jesus, prayer life and devotion to him in the word,” Adam explained.

Even so, in their young-adult lives, they both felt something was missing.

As Rachael put it, “My experience growing up and in college helped shape my foundation and love for Christ, but I always had a lack of peace. I was challenged by loneliness and discontentment with my spiritual life, but I continued attending a local church.”

Adam entered graduate school and dove deeper into spiritual reading, meditation, contemplative prayer and other faith activities that deeply enriched his spiritual life. He found himself reading books that quoted saints, monastic fathers and other mystics, and this piqued his interest in Catholicism. Then, Adam happened upon something that made him look more seriously into the Catholic Church.

“The catalyst who really sent me over the edge to explore Catholic teaching with intellectual honesty was Scott Hahn. During Easter 2014, one of my Catholic friends posted Dr. Hahn’s lecture ‘The Fourth Cup’ [on her Facebook page].”

Adam became enamored of Catholic doctrine, finding himself “in a strange place of quiet belief and distrust,” struggling to cope with his misconceptions of the Catholic faith.

“Over the next six months, I listened to Hahn and other lecturers. I found the tracts from Catholic Answers very helpful, but I didn’t really know what to do with all this newly discovered theology. I was alone and scared to share.”

The director of faith formation at St. Columbkille in Wilmington, Ohio, invited Adam to hear Dan Burke, executive director of the Register, speak. “I loved it,” Adam said. “I remember him saying, ‘You have to build the bridge of love in order for truth to pass.’”

Adam recognized not only the intellectual journey that brought him to this point, but the overflow of Christ’s love shining in and through so many other people forming a bridge between him and the Church.

And a new Catholic friend of his, Spencer, introduced Adam to more writings on the Eucharist. “I realized at this point that if the Church’s teaching on the Bread of Eternal Life was true, and that this was indeed his body and blood, then I had no other place to go but home,” he admitted.

Adam continued poring over books, noticing “over and over again that the earliest Christians believed in the Eucharist and were unanimously Catholic.”

He began attending Mass, reveling in its beauty. Even amidst the hesitation of leaving friends in his Protestant community, he felt so much peace. “I wanted to do nothing else but go to Mass.” Adam knew it was only a matter of time before he became Catholic.

Meanwhile, Rachael was coming into town a few days later. In March 2015, the brother and sister went on a backpacking trip in southern Ohio. “We started a fire out in the wilderness and began to chat,” Rachael remembered. “That chat ended up being hours long. Adam said, ‘Rachael, I have something to tell you.’ I could tell it was something serious because he was struggling to find the words. Then he said, ‘I’m going to become Catholic.’”

“I was just hoping she wouldn’t be frustrated or even angry with me,” Adam said. “I really didn’t know what to expect.”

Over the light of their campfire, Adam told Rachael about his newfound Catholic beliefs. She acknowledged that his arguments made sense, and she agreed to learn more.

“I went back to school and didn’t give it a whole lot of thought,” Rachael said.

“I did run to a bookstore to pick up Rome Sweet Home by Scott Hahn, which Adam suggested to me. A few weeks went by, and I continued to think about this Catholic thing.”

Over phone calls, she asked Adam to repeat his reasons for converting, and she studied with fervor. Three weeks after their camping trip, she called Adam, crying and telling him, “I have to become Catholic.”

A few days later, Rachael resigned from her position as a counselor for a nonprofit Protestant camp ministry, now a step closer to becoming Catholic.

“I have never been fully at peace in my life, but since I said, ‘Yes’ to the Church, my contentment, which only comes from Our Lord, is immeasurable,” Rachael confessed.

What Adam and Rachael didn’t know at the time was that God had bigger plans for their own family to grow in holiness within his Catholic Church.

Adam and Rachael invited their parents and younger sister to brunch to share their conversion experiences. Over a long meal, the siblings explained their desire to become Catholic.

“We invited them to join us in RCIA, so they would understand what we were doing and what we actually believed. They consented, and at this point, the entire family moves toward the Easter vigil [2016] with the intent of being received by Mother Church,” Adam announced.

“I’m really looking forward to our RCIA experience and eager to learn more about the Catholic Church. I’ve always been fascinated by the Catholic Church from afar and intrigued by its authenticity,” said Adam and Rachael’s father, Kerry Lewis. “My initial thoughts to Adam and Rachael’s conversion were: ‘Wow, what a blessing! We (Robyn and I) have devoted years to guiding our children to the ways of the Lord, and now our adult children are guiding us. Blessed!’”

In addition, Adam and Rachael’s grandmother is also returning to the Church. She grew up Catholic but has not received the Eucharist at Mass since the Second Vatican Council, so she wants to relearn Church teachings.

The whole family began RCIA Aug. 23 at Immaculate Conception in Dayton, Ohio.

Rachael is excited to learn more about the many opportunities for growth and fellowship in the Catholic Church: “The encouragement of other Catholic families is such a blessing. As I enter into the Catholic faith, I am so encouraged to know that there are other families seeking holiness and a deeper understanding of Christ and his love through his bride [the Church].”

Katie Warner writes from Florida. She is the author of

Head & Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family (Emmaus Road Publishing).