Raised as an anti-Catholic in Missouri, Sherry Weddell is coming to THIRST 2013
to defeat what she calls the “Culture of Silence.”
“Less than half of Catholic adults are certain you can have a personal relationship with God. Thirty percent of Catholic adults don’t believe in a personal God. Many Catholics do not believe in the God at the heart of the Catholic faith,” said Weddell, author of the popular book Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus
Weddell’s own personal encounter with Jesus during her college years changed her life.
“I was looking for places to pray during the day and Catholic churches were open and Protestant churches were closed. I saw a big Catholic church near the campus and when I walked over the threshold, I experienced a presence of God that I had not felt anywhere else,” she said during a Real Presence Radio interview with Fr. Brian Gross.
She didn’t realize that the church she was praying in was called Blessed Sacrament. Suddenly, after believing that “Catholics were all religious pagans who were trying to work their way to heaven,” Weddell was mysteriously drawn to the Eucharist, converted to Catholicism, and eventually co-founded the Catherine of Siena Institute in 1997, a ministry that equips parishes to form lay disciples.
“I was hooked by the presence for which I had no name. Slowly, the old prejudices died. It built a bridge of trust for me; it went right over all those years of anti-Catholicism. When I went to protestant churches after that, I thought they were really pretty, but the presence wasn’t there.”
After her powerful experience, Weddell encourages people to frequently attend eucharistic adoration and invite others to come with them—whether they’re Christians or not. “Adoration requires nothing. You don’t have to have any background to be affected by the encounter.”
Weddell will discuss the “five thresholds of conversion” at THIRST 2013, as featured in her book Forming Intentional Disciples
. The thresholds are “classic stages of spiritual development that people in the 21st century go through,” she said.
“We don’t think of things we’ve never heard anybody else talk about. In our parishes, in our Catholic families, and among Catholic friends, we do not talk about the possibility of this powerful, real, loving, transforming relationship with Christ as the center of the Catholic faith.”
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