[An open letter from Pam to our friends and relatives after her conversion to Catholicism. "Unhappy" was not an accurate description of their reaction.]
Pamela Sue Williams
January 4, 1999
I have hesitated to write this, because I know how opposed I was to hearing Stan’s decision to do this only a year ago. I also know that some of you will be unhappy when I tell you about my own decision. The Catholic church has not been perfect, and it may have needed protesting against in times past for its various wrong practices. But I have come to see, over this past year, that it is the church that Jesus established, and that despite its wayward practices of the middle ages, (and they were dark indeed) it has remained doctrinally solid these 2,000 years.
The problem in most cases, where there is disagreement between Protestants and Catholics, has been in communication of beliefs and doctrines. Many supposed differences are really misunderstandings or misinformed rumor. Once I read and heard the truth about what they believe, I could not deny that the Catholic church is still the true church Christ established. Catholics call Protestants their "separated brethren," but we are both Christians, and God wants His church to be united. Perhaps our separation was justified for awhile as the Catholic church went through some dark times, but today it is back on track. Plus, it has never varied from its historical doctrines dating back to the Apostles. (What we have seen changes in have been practices.)
One beautiful doctrine Catholics believe in is the "communion of saints,"… those who have passed out of this world as well as those of us who remain. All the saints are alive,… just not all in this world. The Catholic church practices communion with these saints who have died but are still alive in Christ. I have come to see this as a beautiful thing that is real and true to me.
I do not have a problem with any of the other doctrines I used to think separated us either. And I especially find an answer to the scriptures regarding Jesus’ emphasis on being the true bread, and if anyone does not eat of his flesh and drink of his blood, he cannot have eternal life (John 6:30-60). For me, this can only be settled by the Mass, where through the Prayer of blessing by Christ from the Priest (not unlike the Jewish Priests sacrificing the lamb and sprinkling its blood), the bread becomes Christ’s body and the wine becomes his blood for us to consume as the Lamb of God, sacrificed for our sins.
I have thought about this long and hard and I have had many appointments with Father Cronk at St. James Church in Novi. I have read and prayed, argued with Stan, cried, and had Catholic friends over and out to dinner to probe them with questions. After all was said and done, at the risk of offending some of my Protestant friends and family, I have come to the decision that I’d be wrong not to become Catholic. I hope you will not see this decision as a betrayal or a short-sighted move. I’d like you to consider it as a step in my Christian walk that has opened up new doors to bring me even closer to the God I have always loved and served since I accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was eight years old.
I am truly thankful for the godly upbringing I received and for the Protestant ways I hold dear. They are not diminished or compromised by becoming Catholic. In fact, they are enhanced and expanded to include the early church Traditions established by the Apostles.
I know many of you will not understand (I know I wouldn’t have a year ago), and so I want you to know I will be glad to answer any questions I may have raised in your mind. In the meantime, if you are able and willing, you may join me on Saturday, January 23, at 6:00pm (or when 5:00 Mass is over) at St. James Church on 10 Mile (between Taft and Beck), as I receive the Sacrament of Baptism and Confirmation at that time into the Catholic church. I will not be offended if you choose not to come. I just want you to know when and where the event will take place.
I love you all and have benefited greatly from your kind notes of love and encouragement and your many prayers during my battle with cancer. My treatments are nearly done… one more month to go of 22 radiations. I am thankful for God’s wake-up call to me, to see some old issues in a new light while passing through the valley of the shadow of death. Soon I will be ready to go back to work, stronger for all I have been through, physically and spiritually. I am so thankful to all of you for your support, and hope we can continue to support one another in our journey here below.
P.S. As I added personal messages onto the real paper/regular mail letters I mailed yesterday to people not hooked up to E-Mail, one thing kept coming to mind, so I will add it here.
I really wish that all of Christ’s Church would come together — Protestants and Catholics alike!
I do hope this letter helps you to understand my own reason for embracing something that used to seem so foreign. I don’t expect it will in most cases, as it took me over a year, and I had time to study it, …but I wanted to try.