I first met Kate at my daughter's wedding reception, June 2019. The next day, my husband and I sat next to her at Mass. After the service, she stated that she was a brand new Catholic. For my Frugal Catholic readers, I would like to share Kate's marvelous journey into the Catholic Church. For me, it has been a blessing to conduct this interview with her because it speaks of Our Father's great love and mercy for His beloved children.
First of all, Kate, please answer the following:
your name: Kate O’Brien your age: 46
your occupation and for how long: Mother, 15 years! 1. Kate, had you ever had any spiritual upbringing before coming into The Catholic Church? If so, what or what not?
Kate-- I was raised in a secular home. My dad never spoke about faith, nor did I remember his family going to church. My mom was raised in the South, and her dad was a deacon of the Southern Baptist Church; although, he retired from that position when his church voted to decline membership to Black people. My mom loathed the onus of converting all of her friends to her faith and left the church upon marrying my dad. That said, she often commented that if she were to be religious, she’d be Jewish or Catholic because she appreciated the lore and ceremony. My whole life, I thought religion was a story primitive people told to themselves to help explain our physical earth and our human nature. I believed science was a modern explanation of all things spiritual.
2. What led you into the Catholic Church versus the Protestant or Evangelical Churches? When and how did this journey begin?
Kate-- In April of 2018, while driving in my car, I had a total-sensory experience that left the following statement in my head: “It’s all true.” At that moment, I knew that God was our Creator, Jesus was his Son, and Mary, our Virgin Mother. My husband and I had recently reconciled after a 14-month separation. During that time, I acted as the primary parent and focused my healing on doing whatever action was in my children's best interest. I believe that in my search for motherly humility, Mary and The Holy Spirit found me and turned my face towards Jesus. I knew my church was the Catholic Church because of our Holy Mother. (Incidentally, I love that the neighborhood I grew up in was called “St Mary’s Gardens.") 💙
3. How has your life changed since your Baptism, Confirmation, and First Communion?
Kate-- My life has become more simple, making life very hard. Prayer, Bible study, mass, discerning what Our Father wants for us is quite simple. When we cannot follow His teachers, we have a path to reconcile ourselves to His Mercy. Fulfilling God's plan is fulfilling work and sustains my soul in a way that I could never have possibly imagined. That said, I've had to erect many boundaries between people who did not have my best interests in mind and me. Seeing their intentions in contrast to God’s unending love makes some relationships no longer possible, which I’m beginning to accept and embrace.
4. How has your family embraced your decision?
Kate--My husband and kids have been nothing but supportive and positive. They have witnessed the joy that Faith has brought to my life. I freely talk about how Jesus informs my decisions, and they respect my worldview even though theirs remains secular. I hope that one day they, too, join the faith.
5. Please share the ways Catholicism has helped you grow in your vocation as a wife and mother?
Kate--I believe that I was chosen for discipleship because my views on marriage and motherhood were very much in line with Catholicism before I came into The Faith. I lost my mother before having children and was unsure of my maternal instincts. I never saw myself as a mother, and even after having kids, I wasn't particularly sure how well I was doing in raising them. After they began schooling, I was often told how good a mother I am. Relating to my children felt completely natural, and checking my ego for their benefit was always second nature. I've been married 21 years, and my conversion came shortly after my husband and I reconciled from a 14-month separation. For me, divorce had never been an option, so counseling and hard work were the answers to our problems, and we are happier than we have ever been. Catholicism can make the right answer more simple to answer when one is experiencing a relationship problem.
6. What do you feel is important in your life at this point? Has that changed from what you used to feel was important?
Kate--Aside from the obvious, I’m currently delving into the idea of God’s Divine Mercy. Before my conversion, I suspected something “wrong” with me. I never hurt others, but I seemed intent on hurting myself, so I assumed I must have deserved punishment somehow. Christ has freed me from this despair. I know that God wants me to be forgiven and that he has provided me with the tools to make right when I wrong. I’ve learned that in forgiving others, we free ourselves, and I know this because of how merciful God is. He has known my heart for my entire life, and He has chosen me to be his disciple because of this newfound humility.
7. What am I forgetting to ask you, or what final thoughts do you want our readers to know?
Kate-- There is no appetite for increased taxation. Yet those economically suffering need more solutions. Parents and schools are failing their children because they are not teaching morals. We have generations of young people with little hope for what the future holds. The Church must step up to help fill the void. We must talk about Jesus’s healing methods, even if we need to find secular language for the introduction. I work daily for my personal salvation, but as a new member of The Church, I am interested in bringing the word to those in our community who need mercy the most. Mary and God are the spiritual parents we need as divine lights in this dark world, and I am so grateful to be in their care.
Martha Wild King, M. Ed., Author
The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less to give and save more.