Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Welcome Reverts/Converts to the Catholic Church

RECON: what is it?
It's how some wonderful words begin such as: Reconcile, Reconcilation, Reconfirm,Reconnect, Reconvene, Reconstruct, Reconnassaisance.

The idea for starting RECON came to me from a convert who recently called The Doctor Is In radio program and asked Dr. Ray the best way to share his love for the Church with others. He was experiencing less than enthusiastic responses from some people he hoped to persuade to accept his entering C.C. I certainly could relate to his new-found zeal! He was received into the Church this past Easter and was obviously very glad, but was finding expressing this obvious happiness to a few people and some in his family, more difficult than he'd anticipated. Dr. Ray told him to temper his zeal with some people, since not everyone will share his enthusiasm about his return to the Catholic Church.

How I wish I'd have had heard that sage advice a year and a half ago when in my zealousness via e-mails, I seemed to have confused some and even ruffled some feathers of others inadvertently. I was somewhat disheartened to find a few weren't ready to hear about my love for Our Mother,Mary, the Rosary and the Communion of Saints. Here I was, extremely happy and finally at peace to have found the Fullness of Truth that I'd been searching for during my entire Christian walk of 30+ years, yet my enthusiasm seemed to fall on "deaf ears" with those who I'd shared my Christian journey with closely up to this point.

I love, repsect and cherish my dear friends in other fellowships and it's my hope that one day we can all be Catholic, as Jesus prayed for us all to be one as He and the Father are one, in St. John 17. It's not my aim to become anti-Protestant now that I'm Catholic. My family on my mother's side were and still are wonderfully devoted, devout Methodists who taught us Christian values and were pillars in their community. My father's side were Baptist and lived very devout Christian lives. I would NEVER say that they or others we have and hold as dear friends are not good Christians, so I hope nobody is coming to a misguided conclusion by my words written here. With that being said, when one seeks the FULLNESS of TRUTH, one will find it.

Over these many years, Rich and I received only kernels of truth, in various places taught by various pastors, who all taught something a little different from the others. That is what began to cause me some anxiety and confusion. It's why I'd sometimes even fail to go to church on some Sundays because there was no compelling reason to go. Good messages are good messages, but I was hungry for a FULL MEAL. What was missing was in the Church we'd left but I sure wasn't considering that for a moment. I did long for something that would give me more and help me stay on course, and a place where I could pour out my sins I was still committing (and still do commit.) That place is the confessional and the Food is the Eucharist, and that is not found anywhere else but the Catholic Church. Appetizers, though tasty and tempting, will never satisfy a hunry heart/soul to the fullest. I believe God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are NOT conflicted over doctrine, as some 30,000 + sects/denominations are now conflicted over doctrinal issues. As John Martignoni says (paraphrased) "They [the Trinity] may root for different sports teams, but they're in complete agreement regarding baptism!" No wonder the world has such trouble seeing Christ in us! How do they know we're Christians by our love when we are so divided? Jesus left us ONE CHURCH that the gates of hell have not and will not prevail against. She's stood the test of 2000 years. As John Henry Newman stated, "To go deep in history is to cease to be Prostestant." One only has to love history and start digging to find how true that statement is.

I can and do empathize with their confusion or even slight and possibly overt "dismay" they might feel. I would have felt the same, had it been one of them who returned to the BIG Church we'd all left for the more "free" and "lively" evangelical ones. Rich and I are now finding out how FREE and Full of LIFE one can truly be in the Catholic Church, under the authority and guidance of the magesterium. When children know their limits, they're confident, safe and truly free. When is a train most free? When it is on the tracks - not off of them trying to "blaze a trail." When is a fish most free? When it's in water - not on dry land. We'd been fish on the sand for years and didn't even realize it! You can only know how starved you are and have been when you finally eat of the BREAD OF LIFE! The EUCHARIST is found NOWHERE else. IT IS THE BREAD OF LIFE. Jesus HIMSELF! Priest and victim Lamb. He feeds his flock HIS FLESH, and it is the most glorious thing this side of Heaven to participate in the on-going sacrifice of Calvary daily re-presented, unbloody, but just as real! To dine with all the Saints in Heaven at the Bride Groom's banquet! Where Christ's body, blood, soul and divinity are offered and given for the Life of the world! Heaven bends and kisses Earth at EVERY SINGLE MASS. There are books and dvd's titled Why Be Catholic? They're great, by the way - we have them and listen to them often. I guess my question would be this: "Why NOT be Catholic?!"

While that caller and Dr. Ray were talking, I thought outloud and asked the Lord at the same time: "Wouldn't it be great if reverts and converts had a place to gather that was safe, supportive and where that exuberance we all share wouldn't have to be tempered?" I prayed for God to make it clear to me what that could mean. The word 'reconnaissance' kept coming to mind. Many of us have come back Home or are entering the Catholic Church for the first time. We find a vast new territory that is challenging and so different from where we've been. We need to survey this territory and get an overview of this "new land" and where each of us fit into His Church. It can appear very daunting to find where we can assimilate ourselves, our talents and our gifts. Plus, as sad as it is, many of us have lost or may potentially lose some friends and even family members by returning the the Catholic Church.

Reconnaissance was a little too long a word, however, for "marketing" purposes, so with the help of a friend at our local Catholic radio station, where I volunteer, [KVSS Spirit 88.9 FM] we decided to shorten it to RECON to keep it easy to remember, not to mention easier to spell. The fact that so many healing words begin with those 5 letters is all a part of our goal and desire for this fellowship.

Have you recently returned to the Catholic Church?

Have you recently converted to the Catholic Church?

Are you a "cradle Catholic" who would like to learn more about the Faith and grow with others who are just as excited to be Catholic as you are?

RECON is a newly forming support group where reverts and converts to the Catholic Church can gather to share the joys and struggles they’ve encountered as they've returned Home or entered the Church for the first time. Right now, it's just in the "embryonic" stage, but we will have a room at our parish, St. Robert Bellarmine in Omaha, to meet this coming Fall. We hope to meet soon at the Holy Family Shrine with a few converts and seekers. We can certainly "e-meet" on line for now. If you're reading this, we already have "e-met." The need for fellowship and support is great and the goals of RECON are to meet that need, to offer loving support, and to enjoy fun events as well. We’ll encourage each other to grow in our faith and learn how to best share, in and with charity, the Fullness of Truth with others in our lives.

When Rich and I came back to the Church in Dec. 2004, we found that it was somewhat lonely. We'd been used to a small neighborhood fellowship that our large Evangelical church had offered. Doughnut Sundays are great and we were bold enough to try to make aquaintances there, but the time doesn't allow for long visits and people usually don't linger after they've had a cup or two of coffee. We don't often see those people again or recall their names if we do see them again.

We did find the classes offered, such as the apologetics class, were a good way to meet people and learn about the faith. However, they only last a few weeks or 2 -3 months. It's our hope RECON will be a bridge to link people to activities or classes that they would find the most suited to their needs and will be an ongoing group that won't end in the summer. It is our vision that this group will be a "core group" to make the large Church small. A place where community can be formed to foster quality friendships, and offer a way to network with others to find where each person's gift/talents can best be placed in the Catholic Church to further the New Evangelization of our beloved Pope, John Paul II.

We hope to also enjoy fun events such as hiking, picnics, game nights, camping, canoeing, etc. Though this is for Omahans right now we welcome others around the area and e-mails from anyone from other parishes in Omaha, or throughout the U.S. that could benefit by this type of support group. We also welcome cradle Catholics as we would cherish what perspective they might bring to us neophytes in the Faith. We all have much to learn from each other.

If you'd like to establish a RECON group in your parish please send us an e-mail. We'll be glad to help in any way we can. We will post our meeting time and room # when the logistics get confirmed. With Father Shane's blessing, and the guidance of Msgr. Dunne, this group will be under way soon. We will abide by the Catholic Church and her doctrine, for the Church is the pillar and bulwark of Truth as we know, not the bible. Whatever materials we might read or view as a group, will also be under that same authority. We've no desire to form this group and "go our own way" so you can be assured of our intention to remain under the Church's guidance. Perhaps we could go to dinner or meet you at a central location, such as The Holy Family Shrine on I-80 at the Gretna exit 232. It's a great place to gather and has a kitchen we could use if we'd need it. I volunteer there once a week on Tuesday afternoons. The Shrine will have extended hours on Mon. Thurs. and Saturdays for the summer months June- Sept until sunset, so that might be an option for us.

Grace and peace to you,

Rich and Susie Melkus

Contact us: