Ending a life-long search for spiritual peace with the Catholic Church
April 21, 2015
For William Fuller and Amanda Jones, years of searching for inner and spiritual peace ended when they entered into full communion with the Catholic Church last November at St. Theresa in Sugar Land.
Neither Fuller nor Jones were raised in families that attended church, however while in junior high school both began attending church services with extended family members.
At age 12, Fuller started going to a Baptist church with his aunt and uncle, and when he was 16 Fuller was baptized in and attended a Pentecostal church.
While studying at University of Houston, where he was a philosophy and psychology major, Fuller said his agnostic and atheist professors shook his faith at its core.
"I had no weapons to combat their attacks, but despite my inability to counter their arguments, God gave me just enough grace to pull me through without totally rejecting Him," he said. "However, I was scared."
For the next decade, Fuller struggled with his faith.
"I could not reconcile faith and reason," he said. "By my mid 30s I pretty much gave up and simply chose ‘faith' because it felt right, but this was a very unstable faith."
Everything changed for Fuller last year when he and his wife were visiting friends who had entered into the Catholic Church a few years prior. During their time together, one of Fuller's friends expressed her excitement about the upcoming Easter Vigil. The conversation piqued Fuller's curiosity.
"I was interested in the Vigil from a purely cultural perspective, so I asked to join them but I certainly did not plan to stay for the entire Mass," Fuller said. Unexpectedly he was "blown away" by the Easter Vigil. "What I saw and experienced touched me on a spiritual level.
"It may sound cliche to say my introduction to the Catholic Church was life changing, but it was. It was a revelation. It was as if a door had been opened," Fuller said. "The symmetry, the interconnectedness, the complementarity of faith and reason that I had longed for for many years was now staring me in the face. Although it was uncomfortable to change to the "wacky" way of doing things as a Catholic, it was marvelous. It was an amalgam of anxiety, longing, anticipation and fulfillment wrapped up in an indefinable experience."
Since his initial inquiry and coming into full communion with the Catholic Church, Fuller said his daily life has changed greatly.
"The big changes include a daily prayer life and being a member of a Church that requires my active participation," he said. "Little changes include having to focus on loving everyone as Christ does. This is very hard and I fail at it daily, but I recognize these failures now and I give them to the Lord and ask Him to help me improve."
Fuller said he now has the peace that eluded him for nearly four decades.
"I am sure that times will come which will be immensely difficult," he said. "But now, I feel confident in placing my destiny in God's hands and frankly this is a big relief because I had a real problem trying to be the master of my own destiny. I have gladly let go of that job!"
A JOURNEY OF FAITH
Amanda Jones can relate to Fuller's story.
"God has always been a part of my life," Jones said. "I wasn't raised going to church, but attended several different types of services with friends and babysitters as a child which allowed me to experience a broad range of religions."
While in junior high school, Jones started to occasionally attend a Methodist church with her grandmother and when she was 14 Jones decided she wanted to be baptized. From that point forward, she attended Methodist services, but said she did not have the closeness with God she desired.
"I knew that I needed to attend church, but felt that maybe there was something that I was missing," she said.
Four years ago, Jones had a life-changing experience when she, her mother and her daughter experienced a family tragedy. At the time, her mother was dating a Catholic man (they have since married).
"We were devastated by this loss," Jones said. "But the love and faith his family showed during this time was simply amazing to me and I knew that it was all because of their strong Catholic core. I knew then that is what was missing in our lives."
In the fall of 2013, Jones, her mother and daughter entered into the RCIA process at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Sugar Land. Jones entered into full communion with the Catholic Church in November 2014, and at this year's Easter Vigil, her mother and 15 year-old daughter received the rites of Christian Initiation.
She said the RCIA process and becoming a Catholic has brought her family closer than she could have ever imagined. Jones also credits her step-father as being the "most amazing support system." While she was going through the confirmation process he would frequently call her just to tell her how proud he was of her. He is also her daughter's godfather, attending every Mass and every class with her.
"He has prayed with her and taught her so much. It has been an incredible experience," Jones said.
"Throughout this process I have gained so much, but the one thing that really stands out as a huge improvement is an open heart," she said. "Before my conversion I was very unhappy with my life, unforgiving of my choices and closed off emotionally. Now I am open to life, I forgive myself for my past choices and I look forward to a bright future with my daughter."