National Catholic Register: Converts Come to the Church Like St. Paul

CULTURE OF LIFE
Converts Come to the Church Like St. Paul

Answers to: ‘What Helped Your Conversion?’
BY Jim Graves
June 16-29, 2013 Issue | Posted 6/10/13 at 5:08 PM

June 29 is the feast day of one of the Church’s most famous converts — St. Paul — who went from being the Christians’ greatest foe to a pillar of the nascent Church.

Every Catholic has a family member or friend who is far from the Church, and it is often difficult to know what the right thing is to say or do to lead them in the right direction.

As the Church celebrates St. Paul’s feast day (also the feast of St. Peter, the first pope), the Register asked notable converts, “What was most helpful to you on your road to conversion?”

Many have been aided in their entry or return to the Catholic Church through the efforts of Tom Peterson, a former advertising executive who founded Catholics Come Home (CatholicsComeHome.org). Headquartered in Atlanta, the organization produces inspirational television commercials that reach out to those not practicing the faith. Peterson also operates a pro-life website, VirtueMedia.org, and a website in support of priests, EncouragePriests.org.

Although not technically a convert, Peterson went from being a nominal Catholic to a zealous one. As he recalled, “I’d be there physically at Mass, but I didn’t follow the teachings of the Church.”

What called him to conversion, he said, were “people who spoke a common language with me and treated me with love and compassion.”

When an opportunity arises to talk about your faith, “keep it simple,” he urged.

He also believes in connecting on a personal level with a potential convert: “When people showed they cared about me, listening to my questions and needs, they drew me in. I wanted to be more like them, and ultimately more like Christ.”

Peterson also suggests inviting potential converts on a retreat, as a retreat played a significant role in his conversion. “Offer to go with them, as having a mentor and guide can help a great deal.”

Deacon Joe Calvert of the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., once dabbled in Eastern religions and was an ardent anti-Catholic.

Being an avid reader and a “truth seeker,” however, Deacon Calvert studied Catholic teaching, including the new Catechism of the Catholic Church when it came out in 1992.

“I was looking to poke holes in the logic, but I couldn’t find any,” he said. “I did not rejoice as I finished the Catechism. If this book were true, then I would have to admit that I had been wrong about many things.”

He entered the Catholic Church in 1995 and was ordained a deacon in 2008.

In conjunction with his studies, what was helpful to Deacon Calvert on his journey to the Church was the example some Catholics provided him.

However, a hindrance to his entry into the Church was the widespread ignorance among other Catholics he knew about the basics of the faith: “I’d ask them questions, but so few knew why they believed what they did.”

When evangelizing others, he recommends patience: “When you evangelize, remember you’re working on God’s time, not yours. We don’t know what’s going on inside someone; often, when they’re most obstinate, they’re just about ready to convert. Pray, trust in God, and put it into the hands of the Blessed Mother.”

Matthew Arnold heads the Catholic apostolate Pro Multis Media (MatthewArnold.org) and is host of the Radio Maria program Shield of Faith (RadioMaria.us/shieldoffaith). A dedicated evangelist today, he was once agnostic and interested in the New Age.

He attributes his conversion to the prayers of others, particularly his Catholic wife, Betty, but he also points to some other positive influences. He attended a Catholic Engaged Encounter so that he could marry in the Catholic Church, for example, “which, although I grumbled about it at the time, it demonstrated to me that the Church saw marriage as something serious.”

He agreed to raise their children Catholic, although he had no intention of converting himself. He took RCIA classes, however, and was impressed by the witness of a priest who taught them, Father Benjamin Fama, who would make “provocative” assertions, such as about Church teaching on apostolic succession, and then say, “Don’t complain to me if you don’t like it. I’m just the messenger.”

Arnold reflected on “Jesus giving the keys to Peter” and recalls going to dinner one night and “having this mental image of a long line of popes, from Peter to [at the time] Pope John Paul II.” That helped him come to understand and accept the teaching.

His advice for evangelizing potential converts is what he terms “the three Bs”: 1) Be bold; 2) Be brief, realizing you can’t explain the whole Catholic faith in a few minutes; and 3) Be biblical when speaking with non-Catholic Christians, as they’ll be impressed with Catholics who know their faith and Scripture.

In all circumstances, reflect a fourth “B”: Be Catholic all the time.

“Make the Sign of the Cross and say grace before meals, for example, whether you’re at home or at McDonald’s,” he said. “As a non-Catholic, when I met Catholics who really lived their faith, it was very compelling.”

Richard Lane is a former Lutheran who entered the Catholic Church in 2003. Today, he operates a full-time Catholic apostolate, Qorban Ministries (Qorban.net).

For Lane, it was a caring attitude among Catholics he met that first attracted him to the Church. As a non-Catholic, he attended Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Oakland, Calif., and recalled it as “one of the most loving and welcoming parishes I have ever been in.”

He later accepted the invitation of a fellow Catholic to come into full communion with the Catholic Church.

Lane is excited that his apostolate has been an effective tool in leading many to a “deeper relationship with Christ.”

He encourages his fellow Catholics to learn their faith and then “approach people in love and without fear. Do not approach them with an accusatory tone; approach in love and respect. Go and make disciples, and preach the Gospel boldly!”

Dave Armstrong is a Catholic author and apologist who once worked as a Protestant campus missionary. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1991. He is the author of numerous books and operates a website, Biblical Evidence for Catholicism (BiblicalCatholic.com).

Armstrong first took notice of the Catholic Church regarding the issue of artificial contraception. He was “shocked” to learn that no Christian group had accepted its use before 1930. “I immediately grasped the absurdity of a scenario where the entire Christian Church had been completely wrong all those centuries, and, all of a sudden, we get this revelation in 1930 — in our supposedly ‘enlightened’ and ‘progressive’ age — that contraception is okay.”

He also took notice that the Catholic Church was the only Christian denomination that did not reverse its teaching.

Discovering Cardinal John Henry Newman’s “Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine,” he recalled, “did me in.”

Unfortunately, he knew only one Catholic at the time, which is “striking and sad.”

The “Catholic apologetic revival and strong presence on the Internet” have improved things for potential converts today, he added.

Regarding evangelizing others, he suggested, “Be gentle; don’t push. Wait for the other person to bring things up. Be a witness by your life and demeanor. Look for common ground, as St. Paul did on Mars Hill in Athens.”

Above all, he said, “The Holy Spirit is what converts souls, not us. We simply remove roadblocks.”

Jim Graves writes from

Newport Beach, California.

News Story: People returning to Confession because of Pope

“In Latin America, during Holy Week many people who hadn’t confessed for many years” returned to the sacrament because of things they had heard Pope Francis say…

“Many young people, men and women in these church groups have not only rediscovered the faith they lost along the way or a faith that had become sterile and indifferent, but they have undergone a real conversion of their lives,” Archbishop Fisichella said.

Read more here!

Have you been away from the Sacrament of Confession for a while? Learn more and come home!

Families Need Mass: New Commercial from CCH!

Catholics Come Home® is excited to announce a new evangomercial! Additionally, during this month of May when we celebrate Our Lady, we reflect on all of the ways she has guided us with her motherly love during the month of April with a great month for coverage for CCH in the news.

Catholics Come Home® announces a new evangomercial: “Families Need Mass”!
Please take a moment to view our new evangomercialTM with the powerful message that families need Mass to reach their fullest potential. Our culture needs to hear this truth! Please share this commercial with your networks through email, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and your other social networks. With your help, we can have more stories like Mary’s: “Our family has returned to the Catholic Church as a result of Catholics Come Home. Thank you for providing such a wonderful evangelical tool.” Praise God!

NBC TV and ABC News Radio feature Catholics Come Home®!
The momentum keeps building for Catholics Come Home® in the news! We were recently featured in an NBC news story, subtitled “Lapsed Catholics lured back by Pope Francis” (which also appeared on the home page of MSN.com) and on ABC News Talk Radio

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Fathers for Good, an initiative of the Knights of Columbus, also focused on Catholics Come Home® in the article, “Home is where the faith is: Catholics Come Home® has reached millions with a simple invitation.”

Catholics Come Home® is highlighted in a British Newspaper!
Check out the engaging article about Catholics Come Home® featured in the British newspaper, The Catholic Herald. God-willing, we will see evangomercialsTM airing overseas in the near future!

St. Edith Stein once said, “The nation doesn’t simply need what we have. It needs what we are.” Let us continue to work together to be a light to our nation, a beacon of hope for our culture, through our ongoing invitation to souls to come home to Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church. Please help us fund the airing of our new Families Need Mass evangomercial, so we can bring a renewal of peace in our homes and a refocus on God as the center of family life!

Pope Francis Likes CCH!

Dear Friend of CatholicsComeHome.org,

The excitement of the Easter season continues here at Catholics Come Home® as we celebrate Christ’s resurrection, our beloved Pope Francis, a momentous month for our apostolate in the national spotlight, and the extraordinary plan God has for all of our lives!

Pope Francis knows about Catholics Come Home®!
In the March 17, 2013 issue of Catholic New World (Chicago), Monica Mavric, a judge in the archdiocesan Tribunal recalls her first visit with Pope Francis, when he was a Cardinal in Argentina. During that visit, “Chicago was in the midst of Catholics Come Home, a campaign using advertisements to encourage non-practicing Catholics to return to church. Mavric took Catholics Come Home materials to share with then-Cardinal Bergoglio. He was very happy to have it, she said.”

Catholics Come Home® makes a splash on International TV News and on mainstream National TV during Lent and Holy Week!
We couldn’t be more fired up about the incredible results of our Epic campaign during The Bible on History Channel. According to the producers of The Bible, the series reached more than 100 million viewers during its airing from Lent to Easter Sunday. It’s exciting to think that all of those viewers were reached with the message to “come home to Jesus and His Church,” thanks to your generous support! Catholics Come Home® received an outpouring of emails and social media feedback from both practicing and fallen-away Catholics, as well as non-Catholics during the campaign. Amazingly, our website received 15,000 visitors at once at 10pm EDT on Sunday March 3rd and CatholicsComeHome.org received more than 75,000 visits during the month that our EPIC evangomercialTM was airing! One thing is clear after this campaign: we need to do more niche campaigns like the History Channel Bible Miniseries and our ESPN Coach Lou Holtz campaigns, to invite more souls home. These targeted niche campaigns are effective and cost efficient!

Multiple Good Friday national news stories about Catholics Come Home®!
The spotlight on Catholics Come Home® and the Church continued on Good Friday, with FOX News featuring me our apostolate in three stories throughout the day, commenting on the resurrecting effect Pope Francis is having on the Catholic Church. Since you probably weren’t watching TV on Good Friday, here are some clips from the stories that day, appearing in America’s Newsroom, Fox Report with Shepard Smith, and Special Report with Bret Baier.

Also on Good Friday, Catholics Come Home® was featured in a prominent article in the National Review online. In it, I refute errors about Catholicism, and explain how to invite more souls home to Jesus and His Holy Catholic Church.

Catholics Come Home: God’s Extraordinary Plan for Your Life is now in airport bookstores!
We recently received the great news that my new book, Catholics Come Home:God’s Extraordinary Plan for Your Life is now prominently displayed among bestsellers on bookshelves in the Atlanta and all the NYC area airports! Click to watch this new promo video for the book, and please share on Facebook and Twitter, so more people can read and benefit from the Good News that God has a unique and extraordinary plan for everyone!

A Coming Home Story…from Facebook!
Several weeks ago, a young woman and mother of two visited our Facebook page, asking questions about the Catholic Church. She wondered about how to recover from feelings of frustration over scandal in the Church, the Church’s teachings on various ‘controversial’ topics, how to forgive Catholics who hurt her in the past, and more. Sometimes her posts with harsh remarks had to be deleted. She seemed convinced that she would never return home. Nonetheless, Katie Peterson Warner, our Director of Communications and Evangelization, continued to dialogue with her online, lovingly and patiently inviting her to open her heart again to the Catholic Church. After much prayer and digital conversation, we received a message from her on Good Friday, during the hours of Divine Mercy, saying, “I want to thank the invisible person who answered my questions and helped re-open my heart. I went back home today and will be there till the day I die. Thank you and God Bless you…for this Catholic has come home and it feels so good.” God could not have given us a greater gift on such a holy day! Please keep this young woman and her family in your prayers as they return home to the practice of the Catholic Faith, thanks to the workings of the Holy Spirit in her heart and missionary evangelization using Facebook! Can you believe it?!

Your generous spiritual and financial support continue to impact many souls, some of whom you may never meet here on earth. What a great reward awaits us who continue to spread God’s Word to the spiritually poor. Please help us continue this vital work so the Holy Spirit can bring more growth to the evangelization mission of Catholics Come Home®!

As always, we thank you for your continued support of our mission to invite Catholics and non-Catholics home to the Catholic Church.

A Blessed Holy Week and Happy Easter from Catholics Come Home


Dear Friend of CatholicsComeHome.org,

We pray your Holy Week and Easter celebrations are full of grace and joy! In our deep gratitude for our loving God who gave His life for us and founded His Catholic Church, we are blessed to continue to labor in His vineyard, helping to invite more souls home to experience a renewed relationship with the crucified and risen Christ in His Church.

Catholics Come Home® appears on EWTN Live and Relevant Radio!
It’s a great time to be a Catholic. With the recent election of our new Holy Father, the eyes of the world have been on the Church, and we have had an exciting opportunity to invite people all over the world to learn more about the extraordinary plan God has for their lives in the Catholic Church He founded. Check out some of the latest coverage of Catholics Come Home® in the news on Relevant Radio

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

and on EWTN Live, where I sat down with Fr. Mitch Pacwa, our newest addition to our Catholics Come Home® theological advisory board!

God is working miracles through Catholics Come Home® with your help! Here is Thomas’ powerful story…
I lost my Faith roughly 25 years ago, after losing my high school sweetheart, the girl of my dreams. I was suddenly alone. Father Stan said to me, “It was God’s will.” I couldn’t understand that; I couldn’t accept it. I got mad and said goodbye to God and my family and moved to Vancouver, never to look back.

Five years ago, I was hit by a car as I crossed the street on my way to work. I didn’t know it, but that day, my life changed. I managed to contract an infection in my legs that left me quarantined from almost all of society. My only companions during this time were nurses covered from head to toe in plastic and facemasks. I felt very much alone in this world. I blamed God. My legs healed, finally, and I was able to start looking for work again. I still felt bitter towards God for leaving me all alone in this world. I cursed and swore at God and hated every moment of being alive. I blamed God for not just killing me. Even today I still get teary-eyed thinking that I could have been full of so much hate for God and Jesus.

What changed? In the fall of 2012, I started to see the Catholics Come Home commercials on TV. At first I was not interested. Then at Christmas something ‘snapped’ and I knew that I had to come back to God. I saw several of these ads on TV and inside something was stirring in my soul. I prayed for forgiveness at my foolishness for what happened after the car accident. I read the book Catholics Come Home: God’s Extraordinary Plan for Your Life and [Tom’s recommended book] Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence, and that’s when everything lit up. I understood the pain and suffering. I am thankful that I will be in Mass again. It was your ads that made all the difference. I think if they had not been there, I probably would have continued to drift and disappear. –Thomas M., Vancouver, Canada

Watch for the final airing of the Catholics Come Home® “Epic” evangomercial™ in “The Bible” Easter Sunday!
As you may have noticed from our previous e-mail updates, the response to our “Epic” evangomercials™ on the History Channel’s The Bible has been huge! Our inboxes have been full of emails from Catholics reenergized about their faith, fallen-away Catholics inquiring about coming home, and non-Catholics curious to learn more about the Catholic Church. One woman reached out to us on Facebook, sharing, ” I came home last week after seeing the commercial.” Praise God! Be sure to tune in to see the final airing of “Epic” during the miniseries this Easter Sunday at 8 p.m. EST. Thanks to your generous support, we are extending the invitation to come home to millions of viewers tuning in on the glorious day on which we celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection!

Thanks to your generous spiritual and financial support, we have made unprecedented headway this Lent in inviting millions of souls home to the Catholic Church and encouraging them to discover God’s plan for their lives. Please help us keep the momentum going so the Holy Spirit can bring more growth to the work of Catholics Come Home®!

As always, we thank you for your continued support of our mission to invite Catholics and non-Catholics home to the Catholic Church.

Your brother in Christ,

Tom Peterson and your CatholicsComeHome.org team

CCH Makes News on International TV Station; More Catholics Come Home!

Dear Friend of CatholicsComeHome.org,

We pray your Lenten season so far has been fruitful and blessed! It is a privilege for us to share with you the good news happening at Catholics Come Home® during this penitential season.

Oscar comes home with the help of Catholics Come Home® evangomercials!
We were thrilled to receive a testimony from our new friend, Oscar, the other day. He shared with us:

“Catholics Come Home could not have started at a better time for me. I left the faith when I was 16. It took 17 years for me to circle back in search of God. My prayers and studies led me back to the Catholic Church, and the inspirational commercials gave me the added courage to make that decision.” -Oscar, Allen, TX

Oscar is now so on fire for his Catholic Faith that he works as a St. Paul Street Evangelist! Praise God!

Have you see our “Epic” ad again during “The Bible” on History Channel?
Please continue to pray for the impact of the Catholics Come Home® evangomercials™ that are airing with your Lenten almsgiving during The Bible on the History Channel. The premiere episode alone had over 27 million viewers, making it the #1 cable event of the year. Also, after promoting our “Epic” evangomercials™ airing during “The Bible” through social media, we grew our Facebook page by more than 1,000 additional “followers” and reached over 126,000 people on Facebook…all in just one week! The numbers continue to grow. Praise God!

Catholics Come Home® appears on The Filipino Channel in Vancouver!
The exciting success of our first internationally-aired Catholics Come Home® evangomercials™ continues to make its way into the news…this time on The Filipino Channel!

Thanks to your generous spiritual and financial support, we are continuing to reach millions of people with the good news of the Catholic Church that Jesus founded. God-willing, the result will be that we can have more stories like Oscar’s! Please join us in our mission by sponsoring more ads so we can continue this effective evangelism outreach!

As always, we thank you for your continued support of our mission to invite Catholics and non-Catholics home to the Catholic Church.

Your brother in Christ,

Tom Peterson and your CatholicsComeHome.org team

Help Air CCH Commercials During “The Bible” on History Channel!

Dear Friend of CatholicsComeHome.org,

Have you heard? The secular History Channel is airing a new series: The Bible, premiering on March 3. I was excited to meet with the producers of the epic 5-week mini-series a few times, Emmy winning husband and wife team Mark Burnett and RomaDowney. We share a passion for evangelization and a love of the Bible.

For two hours each Sunday night, millions of viewers around the country will watch the story of salvation history, stretching from Genesis to Revelation, in a stunning visual TV presentation, with the final episode of the series, featuring Christ’s death and Resurrection, airing on Easter Sunday.

Catholics Come Home® wants to air commercials during the show!
Imagine how many viewers of all different faith backgrounds–and many fallen-away Catholics–and even people on their faith journey for the first time will be watching the series on the popular History Channel! Though I haven’t seen the whole miniseries yet, I do know the impact that our “Epic” ad could have on the audience. How great it would be if we could join together to promote the Good News of the Catholic Church that Jesus founded by airing Catholics Come Home® commercials during this highly-acclaimed national programming.

Read what Cardinal Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington has to say about the series:
The Bible, the made-for-TV video, seeks to introduce a new generation to the Bible, the great book of the works of God. It does so with great passion, exquisite skill and cinemagraphic triumph. My hope is that this video presentation, The Bible, may bring alive its many stories in people’s minds and hearts so that they may be drawn to rediscover the Bible and rejoice in its saving message.

We need your help!
Our goal is to have more people be touched by the “Epic” ad, like our friend Deborah was, who recently emailed us explaining how she put off coming home to the Catholic Church for years, “until I saw the Catholics Come Home commerical in December 2011 [during the national campaign]. I said ‘Ok, Lord, I’ll go.’ I walked into my parish in Indiana on January 1, 2012 and found home! I enrolled that week in the RCIA program and was baptized that April. I am very active in church and love everyone and everything in our parish. It was a lot of years of seeking but I am finally home!”

We would like everyone tuning into The Bible to see Catholics Come Home® commercials air during the breaks, but we can’t do this without your help. Willyou please prayerfully consider making a donation to help us in this national TV effort, that will require our investment of nearly $200,000? Your gift will help reach millions of souls with the message that the story of salvation history continues today in Christ’s Catholic Church!

Thank you for your continued support of Catholics Come Home® and for joining me on this exciting journey of faith in Christ’s Catholic Church!

Your brother in Christ,

Tom Peterson and your CatholicsComeHome.org team

Tom Peterson on EWTN Live TODAY, Ash Wednesday!


First and foremost, we ask you to please join us in praying for the health of our Holy Father and for the upcoming election of our new Supreme Pontiff. We thank God for the amazing teacher and shepherd that Pope Benedict XVI has been, encouraging Catholics Come Home® and every one of us to live out the call to the New Evangelization with energy and boldness.

With the humility and faithfulness of Pope Benedict XVI to inspire us, we are pleased to report that the work of Catholics Come Home® is off to a great start in this new year. Here are some exciting updates we would like to share with you:

Catholics Come Home® combats anti-Catholic hostility on secular radio!
Our recent campaigns sparked lively discussions in the secular media, confirming that we know good things are happening when the Church faces such persecution. Christ promises us in Scripture that we are blessed when we are persecuted for the sake of righteousness (Matt 5:10). I hope you’ll take a few moments to listen to some of my recent radio interviews in Cincinnati and Vancouver

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

and pray that God may give us the courage and strength to combat falsehood and love hurting souls with the love of Christ, even in the face of persecution.

Catholics Come Home® will be on EWTN Live on Ash Wednesday!
I will be sitting down with Fr. Mitch Pacwa on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 8 p.m. EST to discuss the recent campaigns and success of Catholics Come Home®, as well as the impact of media on our culture. We will also discuss the upcoming release of my new book, Catholics Come Home: God’s Extraordinary Plan for Your Life (Random House/Image Publishing, NYC), with the foreword by Dr. Scott Hahn! Reruns of the show will air Thursday, Feb. 14 at 9 a.m. EST and Sunday, Feb. 17 at 4 a.m. EST.

We are only days away from the release of Catholics Come Home: God’s Extraordinary Plan for Your Life!
If you haven’t already pre-ordered your copy, you still have time to order online! Next week, Feb. 19, the book will be released and you will start seeing copies in your local Catholic bookstore. Please spread the word by emailing your friends and relatives to encourage them to get a copy of the book, too! It offers inspiration for the faithful and is a great evangelization tool for those friends and relatives on their journey home to the Church.