Conversion often begins in the heart – a tugging, an inkling, a flash of something that leads to an exploration of the Catholic faith.
For Morgan Morrison, it was the other way around. The 19-year-old joined the Catholic Church at Easter this year, receiving the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and first Communion at the Easter Vigil Mass at St. Anthony of Padua in Hillsdale.
Morgan, a freshman at Hillsdale College, says he’s been drawn to Catholicism for several years, and that his conversion began intellectually – with unanswered questions about Christianity.
“I always went to a Protestant Christian school, but I never really took it as my own,” he says. “I was pretty much agnostic. It always felt like it was up to me to make my own religion. It was up to me to build a relationship with Christ, and I was super uncomfortable. I didn’t know how to do it. I didn’t even know what to say when I was praying.”
One day, Morgan read Humanae Vitae, and his many questions about Christianity began to be answered. It was the first time he was introduced to a Catholic viewpoint, and he thought, “maybe they’re onto something here.”
Thanks to the accessibility of Church documents online and several high school teachers who encouraged his intellectual questioning, Morgan started to believe in the Church and its teachings. He found answers and arguments to his questions about free will, Scripture, human sexuality and many other topics.
“I was convinced of it in my head, but at that point I had never even been to a Mass. There’s something about the human spirit that wants ritual. I was never against it, but I never saw myself joining. [But then] over the summer, I went to Mass with a friend. The big turning point was witnessing Mass and seeing that it is actually a sacrifice. The Mass is of itself a sacrifice. That was a turning point for me.”
Once he arrived at Hillsdale to begin his freshman year of college, he began attending Mass every week and hasn’t stopped since. He also joined St. Anthony’s Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) class a few weeks into the school year. He began to develop a prayer life, a challenge for someone who “had never said a Hail Mary.”
Morgan, who was unbaptized, quickly found a home at St. Anthony’s among others in RCIA, and some of his cross country teammates who were already Catholic.
“A lot of the team is Catholic and they’re all really great people,” he says. “We go to Mass together and pray together, it’s really great.”
A handful of other college students were among those being baptized at St. Anthony’s this year, in addition to those receiving confirmation and holy Eucharist. In all, more than 20 people entered into the Church at Easter Vigil.
“You can tell there’s a lot of love in our community, and a lot of it comes from Father David [Reamsnyder],” Morgan says. “He’s an amazing priest and you can tell he loves every person and he gives everybody time to talk. He’s a man of prayer. St. Anthony’s is a loving place; it’s a joyful place.”
Before the Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday, Morgan donned a simple brown tunic. Just before his baptism, he and the other catechumens processed barefoot around the church as their confirmation saints’ names were chanted in the Litany of Saints.
As Father David poured water over his head three times, Morgan says he felt “purification.”
“For the first time in your life, it is actually a fresh start,” he adds. “You’re completely purified of your sins.” Bill Lundberg, a beloved former cross country coach at Hillsdale College, stood by Morgan as his sponsor. The two met when Morgan ended up in Bill’s physical wellness class in the fall semester.
“His conversion and commitment to the Catholic faith have been an amazing and inspiring journey – I have been honored to walk alongside him,” Bill says.
Now that he is fully welcomed into the Church, Morgan is full of hope.
“I especially look forward to every Sunday and every daily Mass,” he says. “I just look forward to it. I’m full of hope. Reality does hit – you still have to pray every day, you still have to resist temptation. But it’s certainly a better reality than not being Catholic.”
While Morgan admits it can be very scary to think about conversion and it’s often hard to take that first step, he encourages everyone to “just go for it.”
“It’s not an easy thing to do, but you shouldn’t allow the difficulties of it to hold you back.
“We’re not Christians because of what we get out of it,” Morgan says. “We’re Christians because we love God. That should be our motivating principle. In this short year that I’ve been pursuing Catholicism, I’ve been more at peace than I ever have in my life.” LEARN MORE
Do you have questions about becoming Catholic, or do you know someone who does? Contact your local parish to learn about the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program.