Tuesday, December 30, 2008

From Catholicism to Mormonism

Linda Bacigalupi-Blackhurst's Story

I was raised in the Catholic church by a father with strong catholic roots and a mother who was raised with nearly zero religious or spiritual upbringing. She was probably agnostic but bordered on atheist. My father had several cousins who became catholic priests and others who entered the seminary but never became priests. But the Catholic traditions ran strong in his family line. We went to mass on some but not all Sundays and to Saturday confession more often than I like to remember! I wouldn’t call my father a deeply religious man but religion and church meant a lot to him and raising God Fearing Children was very important to him.

Even as a young girl I was never satisfied with who God was portrayed as being in the Catholic church. He didn’t feel warm, personal, individual and loving to me in the Catholic Church’s portrayal of Him but all those traits were who He was to me in my heart, mind and soul.

While a young girl of 12 or 13 my two older siblings became interested in the LDS Church through associates in High School, football and baseball teams and because of LDS friends and influences they had met. My brother originally took the lead going through the missionary discussions with my sister taking a close second in the process. My father was not very enthusiastic about my brother’s immediate desire to be baptized and asked him to wait a short time before deciding. He reluctantly did as my father asked but my sister just a year his jr. wasn’t so patient or obedient and decided to be baptized without his blessing and without the wait he had hoped for. Once she did so, my brother followed her lead within a few months time.

They convinced my parents that it would be a good thing for my younger sister and I to also hear about the church and somehow they agreed. So Laurie & I along with our Mother sat through the missionary discussions together and Laurie & I were baptized together very shortly thereafter. It was clear to me almost from the beginning that the message the missionaries had to share with me was just good & right and true. It rang in my soul as HOME – it clarified who exactly God was for me. This loving Heavenly Father that they taught me about WAS the God I had always felt existed but who I had NOT found within the teachings of Catholicism.
Joseph Smith seeing the Father & Son, the Book of Mormon, the Word of Wisdom, Eternal Families, being an eternal daughter of God who He loved & valued and for whom Jesus Christ had come to die and pay the price for my sins – THIS was the God, the doctrine, the Savior, the religion that was always in my heart but never found until I learned about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I knew it was true almost immediately. I remember sitting in my first testimony meeting and tears began to flow almost immediately when that meeting began – the spirit was so strong I could hardly contain it on that day. I could not wait to be baptized. My sister, my mother and eventually my father followed in baptism. Over the course of a years time my entire family had converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. My father was a hard sell…. Having to sit through 3-4 sets of discussions – but his hard shell was eventually softened to the truth thanks to the goodness, grace and mercy of God and thanks to the outpouring of the spirit that became too strong to ignore

That was over 35 years ago – my brother served a mission. All four siblings married in the temple to good return missionaries and our spouses and children have produced 18 children, several dozen grandbabies, 9 missionaries in the field and years of joy, happiness, trials, tears, deaths and yet continued faith & testimony of this gospel.

On an interesting side note: my father’s mother who was from this staunch catholic back ground and very resentful of our initial departure from the catholic faith – in her later years (age 93) came to live with our family due to her declining health and advanced age. She sat through missionary discussions and was baptized into the church before she died. THAT is an amazing thing! I love the gospel. I know it to be true. It is joy, happiness, truth and HOME to my soul!

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