Former Methodists find a home in the Catholic Church

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When Kirk and Bethany Andrews entered the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil Mass at St. John Bosco Church in Woodstock in 2012, it felt like a homecoming. While they would always be grateful for the faith formation they received as Methodists, they now felt complete in a way they didn’t know was possible. But while they were excited to start pouring themselves into their new church, one question troubled Bethany and she sought counsel from her new pastor, Father Michael J. Dobbins.

 

“You’ve got to do what is right for your family, and seek the truth and the Lord at the end of the day. That’s how we got here.” Kirk Andrews

During her time in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, she heard people refer to Christians from other denominations as converts. If this was accurate and they were considered Christians now, what had they converted from? Thankfully, Father Dobbins had the answer.

 

“It is not converting,” he said. “You don’t convert unless you are unbaptized. You were and are a Christian.”

 

A strong faith formation

 

The Andrews’ journey to the Catholic Church was really a journey toward Christ that they both started when they were baptized in the Methodist church. Growing up, their families and church communities wanted nothing more than for both of them to grow in their love for Jesus.

 

While they were both Methodist, their parents had different ways of fostering that faith. Kirk’s family was involved with the church and his grandfather was a minister.

 

Bethany’s parents were also involved but occasionally would take them to different churches. Bethany remembers one visit to an Orthodox monastery that left an impact on her at a young age.

 

In college when many young adults were falling away from their faith, Bethany and Kirk were growing in theirs. While attending the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, they both were involved in the Wesley Foundation, a United Methodist campus ministry. Kirk, who served as president during his senior year, said being surrounded by other like-minded students was helpful in his faith life.

 

After Bethany and Kirk graduated, they married and welcomed their first child, who was baptized by Kirk’s grandfather, a retired Methodist minister.

 

It would have been so easy to continue on in the community that had already given them so much, but Bethany couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing.

 

Christ-centered

 

While Kirk still felt at home in the Methodist church of his childhood, they both felt a need for a more worship-filled church experience. They also were disheartened and confused by some decisions being made within the United Methodist Church. Their move from Richmond to Woodstock in 2009 provided a chance for a change.

 

They were not alone in their search for something more. Several years earlier, Bethany’s parents had felt a similar restlessness. Bill and Ellen Davis first joined the Anglican Church but eventually joined St. John Bosco Church.

 

Without any pressure from her parents, Bethany and Kirk decided to visit the Catholic church and they were excited with what they found.

 

“It was completely Christ-centered,” said Bethany. “That was what we were seeking.”

 

Together the couple learned more about the church. They watched “The Journey Home” on EWTN and read the writings of the early church fathers.

 

“Sometimes it feels like you go to Sunday school and read all about the Bible but not about the early church,” said Bethany. “We read how the early church believed in the true presence and how everything we said in Mass was biblical.”

 

Bethany went through RCIA first and Kirk attended the following year.

 

“It really helped as we discerned God’s will for us,” said Bethany. “Deacon Steve M. Clifford joined (the Catholic Church) as an adult so we felt like he understood where we were coming from. The Cliffords and their daughter, Caroline, and her husband, Ted Spinelli, were supportive and encouraging during our time of discernment. We are so very thankful for their love.”

 

“It was great to see everything laid out very clearly in the catechism,” said Kirk. “Some of the tradition is a bit newer to us because when you look at the Protestant tradition it doesn’t go back as far.”

 

The journey continues

 

While they were excited to share the news, it was a little bit difficult talking to Kirk’s family about their decision.

 

“I just wanted to make sure they didn’t think we were turning our backs on our upbringing,” said Kirk. “We were seeking the Lord, and they are too. That is our common goal.”

 

His family has been supportive and many were present when they baptized their second child at St. John Bosco Church.

 

The couple is excited to see their oldest son preparing for his first Communion this year.

 

“He gets to experience this his whole life and it’s exciting for us,” said Bethany. “It was really meaningful. It just felt like we could feel God’s presence.”

“We feel like this is a natural part of our faith journey and we are going to try and seek the Lord,” said Kirk. “You’ve got to do what is right for your family, and seek the truth and the Lord at the end of the day. That’s how we got here.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017