Interview with Jon Leonetti in the Morning
A Conversation about Conversion and Christian Mission
Author, speaker, and radio host Jon Leonetti recently invited me on to his morning show for a brief discussion about my conversion to Catholicism and to ask me about our non-profit The ROCK Association.
How an Agnostic Became Catholic
Believe it or not, I didn’t grow up in a Catholic family. In fact, my family wasn’t religious at all. There was no lived faith experience. So I came up an agnostic with no real belief either for or against the existence of God.
Then I met my wife. Her family was Catholic and went to Mass together every Sunday without fail. So of course, as a young many trying to make a good impression I tagged along. They went to Mass in Spanish and I—not being fluent at the time—hardly understood anything that was going on. Yet, one Sunday, my then future wife told me she couldn’t go to Mass because she had to work. It was then that I made a conscious decision for myself that I was going to Mass, even if her and her family didn’t go with me.
So I sat there alone in the pew, surrounded by hundreds of people. I couldn’t understand the words of the priest or what was going on. But something powerful happened that day. No, I didn’t have a mystical vision. Nor did I hear the voice of God calling my name. But I did have a powerful realization in my heart and my mind that God was real. And from that moment on I wanted to learn more. I joined RCIA and less than a year later I was baptized, confirmed, and received First Holy Communion. That was nine years ago.
Faith in Action
One of the many ways that my Catholic faith has changed my life is the way that faith is lived out. Almost immediately after coming into the Church I started to blog about my faith which over time became Leaders That Follow.
A couple years ago I received an email from an African priest thanking me for one of my recent blog posts. He actually thought I was a priest, but I explained that I wasn’t “that kind of father”. We got to talking and quickly became friends.
I learned about his dire pastoral situation. Living in rural Tanzania he was tasked with ministering to a large geographical area consisting of many villages. The people in these villages didn’t have a means of transportation to get from their homes to the parish Church on Sundays, so He brings Jesus to them by visiting 2-3 of these “outstations” each week.
His parish is thriving with hundreds of people coming into the Church each year, but unfortunately he isn’t able to provide the faith formation that they so desperately need. Thankfully some religious sisters have offered to help, but they needed a convent to live in. That’s where we come in.
My wife and I founded a non-profit here in the States to raise money that we can send to Bukoba Catholic Diocese for the building of this convent. We are about half way through the construction now and still need support. You can donate any time at therockassociation.org.