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John Morris, Spirit FM 90.5

“It was the first time I truly felt Jesus' love, and it overwhelmed and shattered me.”

May 22, 2023 | How does a young adult woman go from being against the Catholic Church to becoming Catholic? In this article, we bring you the story of Autumn Thibodaux in her own words. She became Catholic at the age of 34 earlier this year.

How long have you been in Tampa, FL? How did you find Christ the King Catholic Church?
I have been in Tampa for about two years now. I found Christ the King through a friend who started attending the church. She invited me and I decided to go. I loved it and have been going ever since.

Did you have a faith background before? Had you been to church before?
Yes, I did. I grew up Protestant. I went to a Protestant church. Later, my family switched to a non-denominational church. However, I was very against the Catholic Church.

Why were you against the Catholic Church?
I think it's because my dad grew up Catholic in New Orleans, and he left the Catholic Church due to some corruption. So, I grew up with him telling us things like “they are not real Christians,” “it’s ritualistic,” and “the faith is dead.” That was the view I had of the Catholic Church. I believed they were worshipping idols, that they weren’t real Christians. I believed they didn’t have a relationship with Jesus. My perspective didn’t change until I got into a relationship with a great guy who happened to be Catholic. He was a very devout Catholic and that was my first exposure to the Catholic faith. But I was still against it, I was so against it.

When you entered this relationship, were you nervous? Did the thought “oh he’s Catholic, I don’t know about this” cross your mind?
Yes, I was nervous. Although we got along very well and I ended up falling in love, I was still very against Catholicism. In fact, I tried to get him to come to the Protestant side. It was my “mission” to get him to switch religions. To “save him,” and “help him.”

What did you discover in the Catholic Church that turned that disbelief around?
I thought I was going to marry the guy I was in a relationship with, but that didn't happen. The breakup devastated me, and in that moment, I questioned what could be so great about his faith that he was willing to end the relationship. I remember being in my room devastated, crying to God, asking for His help. It was then, in that moment, that I felt all these walls that I had built up knocked down. I felt all of them shatter. It was in that moment where I thought “OK, I am not sure about everything.” It was the first time I truly felt Jesus' love, and it overwhelmed and shattered me. His love gave me a sense of peace, assuring me that everything would be okay. I could feel Him saying, "I've got you, and I have a purpose for you."

How have your parents reacted?
My parents have noticed a change within me. I had fallen away from the church for a long time and did things I wasn’t proud of, but there has been a total conversion of heart after doing hours and hours of research into the Catholic faith and realizing this is the truth. I felt like I was missing something when I attended a Protestant church.

At some point, you went from attending Mass to saying, I really want to be a part of this because I want to receive Communion, and I want the fullness of this. Do you remember that point where you said, okay, now is the time to make the commitment? Did you talk to anybody?
Yes, I talked to my spiritual director, who is also Catholic. She helped me navigate through the faith, asking me the tough questions and emphasizing the importance of agreeing and believing in everything. However, I think the moment I decided to make the commitment was during my first day at Christ the King. It was like God spoke to me and said, “You know, I want you to join this church.” I think, this was the moment I said, “Okay, how do I become a part of this? How do I receive communion?” And that was my greatest desire, you know, the Eucharist, I was really longing to be a part of that.

What was your experience like going to confession for the first time?
It was emotional. The night before I was doing an examination of conscience, and I ended up writing all of my sins on a whole piece of paper, filling it up. I thought, "I know there's more, but that's all I can think of." Sharing those sins out loud, confessing my deepest, darkest secrets, the things that I'm so ashamed of and that hurt God, was both emotional and relieving. The priest was prayerful and non-judgmental, and I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I couldn't stop smiling afterward.

When you thought about becoming Catholic what went through your mind?
A sense of relief, but also immense joy. The more I get to know Christ, the unimaginable love He has for me and for all of us becomes apparent. I anticipate the feeling of meeting Christ at the altar, being accepted and welcomed into the Catholic faith, and it fills me with joy and relief.

Do you hope to become more involved in the Catholic church?
Absolutely, it is a great desire of mine to get more involved. I work too much, so I am trying to kind of reduce that load and become more involved in the church. I feel that God has placed it in my heart to be part of leadership, fellowship, and serving in the church and the community.

What would you say to someone in the community who expresses doubts about the Catholic church?
I would tell them that while it may appear ritualistic, there is profound meaning behind those rituals. When I encountered true faithful Catholics and witnessed their love for their faith and Jesus, my walls began to crumble. I had walls up and didn’t want to listen at first. I would encourage them to do their own research. Because once you learn all that Catholicism offers, it is fulfilling, and you get to experience and see what God truly has to offer.

This interview is an excerpt from an interview with John Morris that aired on Spirit FM 90.5 in early April on a segment called How We See It. You can listen to the full interview on Spirit FM’s SoundCloud.