Editor’s Note: Katie Lewis is a Junior Economics and Business Management major at Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is a convert to the Catholic faith and I recently asked her some questions about her story.
Why did you want to become Catholic?
When I first came to Franciscan University, I was not at all into my faith. I had always said that I was Christian, but never lived it out. The only Catholics I had seen were my parents. I thought they were crazy because all they wanted to talk about was Jesus. It was unheard of for a person my age to be in to their faith and willing to talk about it openly. Most of my friends didn't even believe in God.
When I came to Franciscan though, I was surrounded by people that honestly love God and are not afraid to admit it or even talk about it. I saw happiness in all of the other students and I wanted that for myself. I wanted to experience that love they felt for God and from Him. I started going to daily Mass and talking to some of my friends about it. I decided that, for me, the only way to experience that was to join the Catholic Church. I went to RCIA classes at the university and was confirmed and welcomed into the Catholic Church that following Easter Vigil. Best decision I have ever made.
When you entered the Church at Easter Vigil did you feel different?
At first, when I was standing in front of a couple hundred people, I didn't feel any different. I was so nervous. And after everything calmed down, I was expecting some huge revelation and an automatic improvement in my prayer life. I quickly realized that it wasn't going to dramatically improve overnight; nothing was going to change or get better unless I worked at it. After I realized that, I was able to focus much more on my relationship with God.
If you take the time and are completely open to God, you begin to feel His presence in your life. You're able to have the strength to say 'No' to Satan and his temptations. I began to see myself being able to resist temptations that happened to be my biggest vices – and that's a great feeling.
What’s your favorite thing about being Catholic?
My favorite thing about being Catholic is being able to take part in the sacraments, which I've learned to love and fully appreciate. Reconciliation, for example, has become such an important part of my life. I think everyone feels ashamed of things they've done. Reconciliation was my way of dealing with all of the regrets I had throughout my life. It helped to heal wounds that I had ignored for years. It's an amazing feeling walking out of the confessional and knowing that God still loves you, no matter how many times you've sinned. 'The Lord supports all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down' (Psalm 145:14).
Was there anything about the Catholic faith that surprised you when you learned about it?
I think the biggest surprise was the amount of focus the Church puts on our Mother Mary. In Protestant churches, there is generally not a whole lot of focus on Mary . . . except for maybe around Christmas. So when I started hearing about people having devotions to Mary – to be honest I was a little freaked out. But the more I learned about how and why Mary is so important, the more I started to appreciate that devotion. I had never prayed the rosary before I came to Franciscan, but now it has become a crucial part of my faith. I find comfort in the fact that Mary is constantly interceding for me and protecting me from evil.
Did any of your family or friends think you were crazy for becoming Catholic? How did you respond?
My family was supportive, but my friends were not in the least bit. Most of them doubted that I could ever change or stick with it. They were just waiting for me to fall again. In a way, that doubt from other people pushes you harder. I looked at their doubt in me as an extra source of motivation.
Do you have a favorite saint?
Saint Agnes of Rome is probably one of my favorite saints. She is the patron saint of virgins and young girls. She is my Confirmation saint also. I was trying to find a Confirmation saint and was just reading through different saints, and St Agnes just seemed to stick out. Her story is so amazing and I admired her for her strength and love for Christ. She was the woman that I wish I could be.