I have received many questions about my desire to join the Roman Catholic Church.
Why would you, a Jew, an Orthodox Jew, want to become Christian? That is one question I hear very often.
Another, though the wording varies depending upon who is asking: Why would you want to be Catholic? You are free thinking, self-determined, fact-driven reporter. Why?
To answer that question, allow me to share when various churches were founded and who founded them. The list is not exhaustive, but I share it to prove a point.
The Catholic Church, 1st Century AD, (No human Founder, was founded by Christ).
Lutheran Church, founded by Martin Luther, October 31, 1517.
The Anglican Communion, founded by King Henry VIII in 1534 AD.
Calvinist Churches, founders are Huldreich Zwingli, John Calvin etc, in 1536AD.
The Presbyterian Church founded by John Knox in 1560AD.
The Baptist Churches, founded by John Smyth and Thomas Helwys in 1606AD
The Methodist Churches, founded by John and Charles Wesley in 1784 AD
The Protestant Episcopal Church founded by Samuel Seabury in1789AD.
The Church of Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), founded by Joseph Smith on April 6, 1830.
The Adventist Churches, founded by William Miller, in the 1840s AD
The Salvation Army, founded by William Booth in 1865 AD.
Christian Science (The Church of Christ Scientist) founded by Mrs Mary Eddy Baker in 1879AD.
The Jehovah witness, founded by Charles Taze Russel in 1896AD
For 1,500 years, the Catholic Church was the only Church sharing the teachings of Christ. It was the Church one would turn to for prayer, solace and a genuine connection to God.
During that same 1,500-year period, away from the Church, there were the various practices of Judaism, there was Hinduism, paganism could be found, as was Islam – after about 550 years. These were your choices.
As an Orthodox Jew, I have been waiting for HaMashiach. For most of my life, I have ignored the signs the Torah, the Talmud, writings of various Rabbis have pointed to. Like many others, I wore blinders and would walk the path, praying for Mashiach Now.
I have been a student of religion. I’ve always felt that if you want to get to know a people, you must get to know their religious faith, their religious values. By knowing this, by knowing what drives someone’s system of beliefs and thereby their way of viewing the world, I have been successful in my work as a reporter and writer.
I’ve studied and obtained a degree in comparative religion. Beyond that, I’ve found myself talking with and learning from individuals of many religious sects, belief systems, and religious groups. Yet, I always return to the Catholic Church.
One of my favourite subjects to write about, and photograph, is the Catholic Church. The history, the architecture, the joy and peace I would find merely walking into a Church. Yet, I still would ignore that tug upon my soul.
There was a year where I could photograph a confirmation at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in El Paso. After the Mass, I was invited to say for lunch by both the Bishop of the Diocese, Mark Seitz, and Father Juan Antonio Gutierrez OFM.
During the meal, the Bishop and I exchanged a few words and a comment was made, a comment that has stayed with me since that day.
“You’re Catholic,” Bishop Seitz said, “you just don’t know it.”
He may have been right!
During the Mass, I found myself reciting the prayers and responses right along with everyone else. I found a sense of peace that I was needed that day. That peace, that tug grew and became stronger.
Now, here I am. Almost two years later, and I am ready to begin the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. After the Christmas break, I will be meeting with Father Juan Victor Gamilno of San Elceario Catholic Church in hopes of beginning the process.
I smile, as I think of taking the RCIA. Why the smile? I’ve been studying the Church for thirty-three years, own more Roman Catholic religious articles (books, relics, rosaries, and more) than most priests I know.
Mine is going to be a journey filled with faith, forgiveness, and a joyful hope of gaining heaven. I do hope you will join me by following this page as I share my journey with you.
Please, do pray for me, as well as my wife as I hope she will join me on this path.
Pax et Bonum,
Steven E Zimmerman