As we approach Easter season, a call for conversion stories

All too often we hear statistics and stories about people falling away from the Catholic Church. We hear about the rise of the religiously unaffiliated, otherwise known as “nones,” and about growing secularism in our country.

As reported in this newspaper last August, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University identified through its research that 13 is the average age at which young people leave the Faith. And only 13 percent of young people indicated they would ever considered returning. These numbers, for anyone committed to Catholicism, are concerning. And the anecdotes and reasons people give for leaving the Church are, unfortunately, all too familiar for many of us.

But though these stories are prevalent, they do not paint the entire picture. In addition to stories of people leaving the Faith, we also know there are stories of men and women converting, or reverting, to the Faith. These stories are some of the most compelling testimonies that exist in the Church today. They bring hope and a welcome countercultural witness to the world today.

That’s why OSV Newsweekly makes it a priority every spring during the Easter season to invite readers to send us their stories of reversion or conversion to Catholicism. This year’s conversion stories will be published in the Pentecost Sunday issue, June 4-10.

We know that many conversions took place on Pentecost, when the apostles were told by Jesus to, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20). This is our call to evangelization that still applies today.

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If it applies, in addition to your story of conversion, we want to hear about the people who influenced you — who encouraged you to take another look at the Faith. It could be a spouse, relative, co-worker, friend, priest or someone you barely know.

Submissions should not exceed 250 words, and they must include your name, city, state and date of entry (or re-entry) into the Church.

Readers can submit stories by mail to Our Sunday Visitor Conversion Stories, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750, or by email to feedback@osv.com (please put “Conversion Stories” in the subject line). Submissions should include a high-resolution, good quality photograph of the subject.

The deadline for Conversion Stories is Friday, May 5, but early entries always are welcome.

I hope you will take the opportunity to share your story of conversion or reversion with OSV Newsweekly. Your testimony is a powerful witness in the world today. If you are a lifelong Catholic, but know of a convert who would like to share his or her story, please alert them to this opportunity to share their stories of inspiration and hope.