A conversation with Nathaniel Peters from his conversion; raised Protestant, he became a Catholic in 2007. Nathaniel was born and raised on Martha’s Vineyard. He is currently a doctoral student in historical theology. A former assistant editor of First Things, Nathaniel holds a BA in linguistics and languages from Swarthmore College and a MTS from the University of Notre Dame. He is currently a Bradley Junior Fellow of the Witherspoon Institute and lives in Boston.
A conversation with Dr. Paul C. Vitz about his conversion. Raised Protestant, Paul was an nonbeliever for many years before his conversion to Catholicism. Dr. Vitz is Senior Scholar /Professor of Psychology at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences in Arlington, VA. He received his Ph. D. from Stanford University and for many years he was Professor of Psychology at New York University where he is now Professor Emeritus. At IPS he is part of its new free standing graduate Psychology program which trains students in psychotherapy and counseling, and awards the Doctor of Psychology and Master of Science degrees. IPS is devoted to training professional psychologists in a way that integrates Catholic Christian concepts and contemporary psychology, respecting the integrity of each domain. His areas of special interest include psychology of the person and the self, the psychology of fatherhood and family, the psychology of the virtues, and the psychology of hatred and forgiveness. He is the author of several books, and numerous articles. Books include Psychology as Religion: The cult of self worship. 2nd ed. 1994; Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism 1999 (rev. ed. 2013 published by Ignatius Press); Sigmund Freud’s Christian Unconscious. And with S. Felch, The Self: Beyond the Post-Modern Crisis. (2006) Dr. Vitz is married to Evelyn (Timmie) Birge Vitz, Professor of French at New York University. They now live in Arlington, Virginia and have six children and 16 grandchildren.
A conversation with Stephen Sanchez about the ways in which he, a cradle Catholic, identifies with the experience of conversion in his life. Steve is originally from El Paso, Texas. He graduated from Notre Dame, having majored in Philosophy and Government, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Educational Leadership at Fordham. He was a teacher and Pastoral Youth Director for thirteen years, and is currently the Founding Director of ComUnidad Juan Diego, an educational, pastoral, and social services initiative for Latin American immigrants in the Archdiocese of New York. He is also the English Editor of Traces Magazine, the international magazine of Communion and Libertion. He has been married for a little over a year and a half, and he and his wife Paige live in New York.
A conversation with Karl and Victoria H. about their conversions; Karl was raised in a religious Protestant household; Victoria’s family was Christian but mostly non-practicing.
Karl was born and raised in Montana. He went to college at the University of Virginia where he majored in Philosophy and Politics. He later went on to do further studies in England and France, and then returned to do a PhD at the University of Chicago. He is now a postdoctoral fellow at Villanova University.
Victora was born in Kenya; her family moved to Maryland when she was six. She majored in finance at the University of Maryland and worked in New York for a couple of years before deciding that the lifestyle was not for her. After spending some time in the Caribbean and moving to Philadephia, she decided to pursue at MBA at the University of Chicago, where she and Karl met. She is now a strategy director for a health plan. She and Karl live in Philadelphia.
A conversation with Msgr. Michael Magee about his conversion to Catholicism as a teenager and his vocation to the priesthood.
Monsignor Michael Magee, raised as a Methodist, was ordained to the Priesthood for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on May 18, 1991. He is currently Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Systematic Theology as well as Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture Departments at the Seminary of St. Charles Borromeo in Philadelphia.. In addition, he serves as a Formation Advisor and member of the Theology Division Formation Committee. He graduated from the Wharton School of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania in 1981, and has served as parochial vicar at Holy Innocents Parish in Philadephia, as Adjunct Faculty at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and as an Official in the First Liturgical Office at the Vatican.
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.
A conversation about conversion with Jennifer Fulwiler. Jennifer’s book Something Other Than God was just published by Ignatius Press, Jennifer is a programmer-turned-writer who chronicles her experiences of faith and family life on her popular blog, ConversionDiary.com. Her articles have also appeared in the National Catholic Register, America, Our Sunday Visitor, Envoy and National Review Online. The author has been a guest on the television shows Fox and Friends, Life on the Rock and The Choices We Face, and is producing a reality show called Minor Revisions. She and her husband, Joe, live in Austin, Texas, with their six young children.
Dawn Eden was born into a Jewish family in New York City, Dawn lost her faith as a teenager and became agnostic. In the 1990s, while in her twenties, she was a rock journalist in New York City, interviewing performers such as Elton John and Brian Wilson. She went on to work on the editorial staff of the New York Post and the Daily News. At the age of thirty-one, Dawn experienced a dramatic conversion to Christianity that ultimately led her to enter the Catholic Church. She is the author of two books: The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On (Thomas Nelson, 2006), and of My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints (Ave Maria Press, 2012). Since the publication of My Peace I Give You, Dawn has been the subject of a profile in the New York Times Magazine and has been interviewed on several EWTN programs. She graduates next week (May, 2014) with a sacred theology licentiate from the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception and is continuing her studies toward a doctorate.
About The Raving Atheist (known as “Ray” online) Ray prefers to maintain his anonymity. But by way of a general introduction, this is some basic information about him. Ray was born and raised in the greater New York area, and has been an attorney practicing in New York for 25 years. For the past ten years he has been active in pro-life advocacy and volunteering, and since 2007 has been running an organization which assisting women suffering from a debilitating pregnancy-related disease called hyperemesis gravidarum.
Jessica was raised in Northern Virginia. Her father was an elder at McLean Presbyterian Church, which is part of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), a conservative Presbyterian denomination. She attended Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. Covenant is affiliated with the PCA as well. After graduate studies in music therapy at Shenandoah University, she and Tom were married. They attended PCA churches until 2009 and were received into the Church at the Easter Vigil of 2010. They have four boys and one baby girl.
Tom was raised in a Navy family, living up and down the east coast and overseas. His father was a Navy chaplain, ordained in the Christian Reformed Church, an historically Dutch Reformed denomination. Tom studied maritime transportation at Maine Maritime Academy, and later went into active duty with the Navy. He graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law in 2009. Tom is currently assigned to Washington, D.C.
John C. Wright Is a newspaperman and editor, attorney, philosopher, and writer of science fiction novels, the most famous of which Orphans of Chaos, was nominated for a Nebula Award in 2006. In appearance he is bespectacled, bewhiskered, not so much tall as huge, and his affectations include a pocket watch, a low-crowned, broad-brimmed black hat, and a walking stick with the dullest of sword blades hidden inside. He is the father of four– Orville, Roland, Juss, and Eve –and lives in a fairytale-like happiness with his wife, Jagi, in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Karen Edmisten is the author of Deathbed Conversions: Finding Faith at the Finish Line, as well as After Miscarriage: A Catholic Woman’s Companion to Healing and Hope, and other books on the Catholic faith. She is a blogger and freelance writer whose articles have appeared in numerous publications. You can find her online at karenedmisten.com, where she writes about faith and family.
A conversation with Anujeet Sareen about his conversion. Anujeet Sareen was born in 1972 in New Delhi, India into a traditional Indian family that raised him in a religion called Sikhism. When he was five years old, his family moved from New Delhi to Brooklyn, NY, where he lived before leaving for college. After graduating with a computer science degree from Brown University, Anujeet entered the financial industry and has worked as a global markets strategist for a large investment firm in Boston for the last twenty years. Anujeet lives with his wife and children in Walpole, MA, a suburb of Boston.
A conversation with Ken Krabbenhoft about his conversion to Catholicism. Professor Krabbenhoft grew up in Detroit, got his BA from Yale (’68) and his PhD from NYU in Spanish and Portuguese (’81). Until his retirement in 2013, he was a tenured professor at NYU, specializing in early modern Spanish and contemporary Brazilian and Portuguese literature with emphasis on literary rhetoric, poetry, and mystical theology, and forays into science fiction studies and translation. He has translated the poetry of both St. John of the Cross and Pablo Neruda into English. He and his wife Ferris now live in the Hudson Valley.