My Writings. My Thoughts.
On this program, Rebecca Vitz Cherico (editor of Atheist to Catholic: Stories of Conversion) interviews people who have experienced conversion in their lives: non-believers and others who have converted to Catholicism, as well as Christians who have converted or “reverted” to a deeper form of faith. The aim of the show is to gain a deeper understanding of the many and varied ways in which God makes himself present to us in the Church, and a better sense of how all believers are called to conversion.
A conversation with Lisa Brenninkmeyer about her conversion from evangelical Protestantism and the way in which she continues to be called to a deeper conversion in Christ.
Lisa Brenninkmeyer is an author and speaker who helps women experience the transforming power of God’s unconditional love. Desiring to see women come to know Christ personally, in 2008, she founded Walking with Purpose, a Catholic Women’s Bible study program. After hearing story after story of women longing for connection, looking for a safe place to ask questions about faith, and needing a way to refuel and be refreshed, she decided to do something to bring change. The result of her holy discontent, Walking with Purpose, is a Scripture-based program that is fresh, relevant, and focused on conversion of heart. Lisa is crazy about women, loves Christ passionately, and thinks the most exciting thing in the world is to connect the former with the latter.
Lisa’s love for Scripture and its Author began as a child. Raised as an evangelical Protestant in Minnesota, she and her sister grew up watching their parents teach weekly Bible Study. She entered the Catholic Church in 1991 because her Catholic boyfriend was quite irresistible. They married and spent the next ten years living in Germany and Mexico, growing their family along the way. As Lisa developed curricula and led Bible studies for women and children, she began to dig deeper into the rich teachings of the Catholic Church. The spirituality of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the patience of her spiritual director with her countless questions, and the writings of other converts have all influenced her greatly, bringing her to a place of joy and contentment within the Church.
Lisa holds a B.A. in psychology from St. Olaf College. She lives with her husband Leo and their seven children in Annapolis, Maryland.
A conversation with John Waters about the radical transformation to his approach to religion and the deep resonance this discovery has had in his life. John Waters is an Irish journalist, author and playwright. His first book, Jiving at the Crossroads (1991), about the cultural underbelly of Irish politics, was a bestseller. His other publications include Race of Angels (1994) a study of the roots of U2′s music in Irish history and culture, The Politburo Has Decided That You Are Unwell (2004), Lapsed Agnostic (2007) and Beyond Consolation (2010). His award-winning plays include Long Black Coat (1994) and Easter Dues (1997). He writes a popular weekly column for the Irish Times. He and his daughter Roisin live in Dublin.
A conversation with Azin C. about her conversion from Islam. Azin is a homeschooling mother of five who moved to the US from Iran when she was 16. She was born and raised Muslim in a loving family that was affected greatly by the changes of the Iranian revolution. Her parents sent her to US for college and hoped that she would return. But God had a different plan and she met the love of her life her senior year in college. This started her journey to the Catholic faith.
A conversation with Nathaniel Hurd about his conversion from atheism. Nathaniel Hurd is a 37 year-old native new Englander and proud citizen of Red Sox nation. He was an unbaptized atheist until age 22, agnostic for another two and a half years, and baptized as an Episcopalian in 2002. He was fully received into the Catholic Church in 2005. For the past 14 years he has advocated for survivors of international conflicts, like refugees, engaging with the US government and Congress. He now works for a major Christian relief and advocacy organization in DC. He spent a year in the priesthood formation program in the Washington Archdiocese before discerning out after his summer parish assignment in 2010. Nathaniel is now engaged to be married at the end of August. He and his bride are looking forward to living in the Intentional Catholic Community in Hyattsville, MD.
A conversation with Ted Oberman and Jonathan Fields, both converts from Judaism.
Ted Oberman grew up in Brooklyn and attended the University of Chicago for both undergrad and grad school. Since graduating, he has worked in NYC for a not-for-profit. He still lives in Brooklyn with Rachel, his wife, and their five daughters.
Jonathan Fields trained as a musician at Yale and the Mannes School of Music. Since then he has worked professionally as a musician in various capacities, particularly in advertising and religious music. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Susan, and their three children.
A conversation with Christopher Roberts about his conversion; raised a Baptist, Chris is now a Catholic. Chris was born in North Carolina in 1969 and grew up in Maryland. He attended Yale University, where he double-majored in Religious Studies and Environmental Studies, and graduated in 1991. He then moved to England, and went on to do a second undergraduate degree in Christian Ethics at Oxford, where he met his wife, Hannah. He completed a PhD in theology at Kings College at the University of London. In addition to his strictly academic pursuits, Chris spent several years working with religious programming for PBS. In 2006, Chris accepted a job at Villanova University as a fellow in their Ethics Department; he has been a resident of Philadelphia ever since. Chris’s doctoral dissertation was published in 2007, and is titled Creation and Covenant: The Significance of Sexual Difference in the Moral Theology of Marriage. These days, Chris is pursuing studies at the St. Charles Seminary for the permanent diaconate, and is working part-time as a researcher and writer for the Archdiocese. Most recently, Chris was the editor for “Love is Our Mission: the family fully alive,” a book to be published later this year, a catechism on marriage, sex and the family that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Pontifical Council for the Family are publishing in anticipation of next year’s World Meeting of Families. He and Hannah have three daughters: Martha, Ruth, and Sarah, and are expecting a fourth child this December.
A conversation with Dr. Peter Damgaard-Hansen about his conversion to Catholicism. Dr. Peter was raised Lutheran but had not practiced that faith for some time, having had extensive experience with New Age spiritualities. Dr. Peter Damgaard-Hansen is a licensed psychologist with a Ph. D. in psychology from the University of Copenhagen. He has counseled extensively for the past 40 years in Denmark, Norway and the US, having practiced for 14 years in Minnesota. He founded the Integrative Counseling program: a program takes a three-dimensional approach to mental emotional problems, addressing physical, mental and spiritual health issues in combination in order to achieve optimal results. Peter converted to Roman Catholicism in 1991. His conversion deepened his understanding of human suffering and inspired new, creative ways to address suffering in psychotherapy. He currently resides in Denmark, but offers counseling worldwide through tele counseling via Skype or long distance phone calls. Dr. Peter is married to an American citizen, Deborah, and together they have three children.
A conversation with Nancy Albin, convert from Protestantism. Nancy Albin is currently providing management and leadership for Los Angeles Habilitation House, Inc. LAHH was formed during a lunch break between the Founding Directors, Guido Piccarolo and Nancy Albin in February 2005 while they were working at The Walt Disney Company in finance and accounting. Together, Nancy and Guido wrote a Statement of Value that is the basis for the company today: “We believe that the passion to fulfill ourselves informs how we live our lives and work at our jobs. We want to promote a society that helps everyone fulfill their real needs: truth, beauty, happiness, love and justice. In doing so, we can be ourselves and treat others with unconditional love and respect for their human dignity. We need a “house” like a child needs a family to be helped, educated, corrected and supported. We need a “house” that will continually reawaken the will to work, to take chances, to invent. We need a “house” that will prevent an individual from becoming alienated and cynical.” Today there are 26 employees of LAHH, 18 of whom are individuals with disabilities.
Prior to working with LAHH, Nancy’s acquired expertise in corporate balance sheet audits, working with a Big 4 Accounting Firm and doing financial budgeting, forecasting, and analysis for a Fortune 500 Company that is a leader in family entertainment. Nancy is glad that she can bring her talents and experience to bear at LAHH and focus all of her energies on fulfilling its mission.
Nancy supports Habitat for Humanity, Little Sisters of the Poor, and Rural Grace Food Pantry. She uses the following quote to explain the experience of working with LAHH, “Every morning in Africa a gazelle, wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It doesn’t matter if you are a gazelle or a lion, when the sun comes up, you’d better be running!”(Maurice Greene; attributed to Roger Bannister shortly after his running the first sub-4 mile).
Frank Simmonds was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up on Long Island. His parents were West Indian, from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and raised him in the Roman Catholic faith. His mother died of cancer when he was 17 years old, and for the next 25 years, Frank turned away from his faith and followed an “alternative lifestyle” of drug addiction, homelessness, crime and incarceration until he encountered a power much greater than all his mistakes which enabled him to accept a change in his life. Frank has lived in that encounter ever since. 2 years ago he was diagnosed with advanced-stage neuroendocrine cancer, and 2 months ago he had open-heart surgery to replace the valves destroyed by the cancer. He resides in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and 2 sons, ages 8 and 9. He hopes to return very soon to his work as a doorman in Manhattan.
A conversation with Leah Libresco about her conversion from atheism. Leah was raised as an atheist on Long Island, and began blogging about atheism and religion at Unequally Yoked, while she was still in college. After many debates, she was received into the Catholic Church in 2013. She graduated from Yale with a BA in Political Science in 2011, and currently works as an editorial assistant in Washington D.C.