I am one of six children raised in a Roman Catholic family. Baptized as an infant into Roman Catholicism, it was my understanding that religion was something you were born into, like being Jewish. I can recall thinking that I was in "the one true church" because that is what the Catholic church teaches and I felt sorry for others who weren't Catholic.
I grew up going to mass every Sunday. It was non negotiable. My Dad, who is 100% Irish, said it was his way or the highway. Every Tuesday after school it was right to catechism to be indoctrinated into my faith. I remember collecting the church bulletins and saving them, thinking that God would like that. I received my first holy communion and confirmation right on schedule along with the obligatory frequent confessions to a priest in a tiny little booth. I remember trying to think up sins I would "confess" to the priest before entering the booth, expecting the usual penance to be some "Hail Mary's", "Our Fathers" and some "Act of Contrition's" for good measure.
As I got older, the monotony of the mass took it's toll. The standing, kneeling and ritualistic liturgy was soon committed to memory (which I can still recite to this day) Eventually, during my high school years, I would stand in the back vestibule with a large crowd of people and "do my time" each Sunday.
Throughout my years, I had gone from being and extremely shy child (hiding behind furniture when visitors came) to being voted "Class Clown" in high school. Everyone from my high school has a story of something crazy they had seen Patty Jordan do. As a result, I had many friends from across the social strata: the popular crowd, the jocks, the brains, the outcasts and the stoners. But something was missing. I started to notice, especially in high school, something wasn't right.
I can remember during sad or depressing times in my life being alone and crying, I would call out "God if you're out there" not knowing if there really was a God. My public school education was making sure this conflict existed. In tenth grade, my high school biology teacher taught evolution as fact. I asked him one day after class, "Where does God fit in?". He shrugged his shoulders, leaving me to figure it out for myself.
By 12th grade I was a confirmed atheist and woman's libber, My social drinking was something to behold. I was a champion chug-a-lugger, a beer guzzler extraordinaire. I had been sneaking into bars since 10th grade with my older friends, going to keg parties, graduation parties and college campus parties. I would have beer guzzling contests with older guys who thought they could beat a girl and I began earning quite a bit of cash. I was a good-time girl and it wasn't long until I was smoking pot and partying. But there was that emptiness.
By the time I got to college, my party mode was in full swing except that I didn't know a soul on campus. I had applied and was accepted to the University of Scranton, a Jesuit university in the city my parents had grown up in in Pennsylvania. Here, I had no friends and no one knew my reputation as party girl. The first few months of college were lonely times for me and I was that shy girl again.
I quickly reverted to my partying ways to gain friends on campus but it wasn't the same. I wasn't popular here and there was a profound emptiness to the party lifestyle. I was surprised to find, at what I thought would be a religious school, the amount of debauchery all around me. Each dorm was assigned a priest who lived there, even in the all-girl dorms. Surely that would curtail the partying. Instead, our dorm priest, at one of our first dorm parties served punch with grain alcohol in it called "Father Fitz's Fire Water". The priests were heavy drinkers like everyone else!
During this time, I was still in touch with one of my best friends from high school and on a trip home I sensed something different about him. First of all, he was reading the Bible. The Bible! What was that all about, I wondered. He also prayed and talked about God like he knew Him personally. It was very strange to me but I was intrigued. He had something I didn't. Somehow I would find it too, in my own Roman Catholic faith.
He gave me a book called, "Evidence That Demands a Verdict" by Josh McDowell. As I read it, I was unconvinced by what I thought was the author's circular logic but was fascinated by the testimonies in the back of the book. People testifying how their lives had been changed once they had "gotten saved". People like me. I needed to know more about God but I was not ready to abandon my Catholic roots.
It was not long after this that I noticed a sign hanging up in the commons area at school that said "Fellowship Bible Study" on campus. This was perfect I thought. I am at Catholic college and they are having a Catholic Bible study on campus. I will go learn more about my faith and maybe I won't seem so ignorant to my friend at home who seemed to know Jesus personally.
From the moment I stepped into that little room, I knew the people there were different. These weren't the Catholics I was partying with every night of the week and then seeing them hungover at campus mass on Sunday. They were gathered around in a circle, I'd say about 8 or 10 of them and they had their Bibles open. I didn't have a Bible, so a girl named Dale shared hers with me. The student who led the Bible study was a handsome senior pre-med major. OK, I thought, here is a smart, good-looking guy leading a Bible study (this guy believes the Bible?!?)
I left the Bible study that night in turmoil. Would I go back? My life was so different from the people in that little group. The next Tuesday at 7 pm I was there again. Dale gave me my own Bible. I cannot tell you what we were studying, I simply can't remember. What I do remember is going to that Bible study each week. I remember the internal struggles I had. My roommate would say, "You're not going to that Bible study again are you?" And I would say, "No" and flop on my bed only to jump up at 7pm and run to that Bible study.
The kind girl who had given me a Bible invited me to her church one Sunday, Scranton Revival Baptist Church. Though she was not the type of friend I was used to having, I couldn't say no to her. It was my first time in a Baptist church and it was very strange experience. Here was a whole group of people who believed the Bible. Randy Bloem, the pastor, I was sure, had had a secret consultation with Dale about me, and now he was preaching right to me! I didn't know what to make of it but I was still an outsider to the faith of these Bible people.
How many Bible studies and church services I went to I can't say, but something was becoming clearer and clearer to me, I needed to make a decision. I needed to make a personal decision. I was either going to choose Christ or I was going to reject Him. I realized it wasn't enough to know about Jesus, I had to make a decision whether I was going to accept the free gift of salvation he was offering me or reject it. This realization crystallized for me on the night of March 20th, 1984 hours after one of those Tuesday night Bible studies.
As I read my Bible, the light went on. It may seem trite to use those words but that it exactly what happened. The hour of decision was here. I understood. The best way I can describe it was a surrender. I realized the terms I had been hearing "trust Christ"and "believe on the Lord" meant. I needed to stop trusting in what I had been trusting in to get me to heaven (my good works, doing more good than bad, belonging to a religious group etc.) and put my full faith and trust in what Jesus did on the cross to get me to heaven. He did it for me, when he hung on the cross, He was paying for MY sins! He did it for ME! He loved me! He wanted me to be His child!
I received Him that night. I surrendered. I let Him come into my heart and He made me his child. I was saved! Now, I knew that I knew that I knew I was going to heaven. Not because of me but because of Him! How simple. How profound. How life-changing. My life has never been the same.
I went back to the University of Scranton my sophomore year. The students who had made the Bible study on campus possible had all graduated. I, along with 6 other new Christians needed to hold the offices of president, vice president, secretary and treasurer of this campus club in order for it to continue. I became the secretary. A few weeks into my sophomore year, the head Jesuit of campus affairs called me into his office. He was angry. At this time, I was still confused about the catholic church. I reasoned that the priests and nuns must be the "saved" Catholics, hadn't they devoted their lives to God? Well, this man called me into his office and angrily quizzed me as to what was going on in this little Bible study I was a part of. I was just a babe in Christ and so I said very innocently, "We are just studying the Bible. Is there something wrong with that?" He ejected me from his office in a huff and I began to realize the truth. Lots of people "devote themselves to God". The Muslims do it, the Jehovah's witnesses do it, the Mormons do it, the Hindu's do it , the Roman Catholics do it and even the Baptists do it. Many people are sincere in what they are doing. But sincerity won't save you.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6
Jesus is the only way to heaven. If you are trusting in anything else to get you there you will go to hell. The Bible is God's word. It's all in there. Read it. He wrote it that you might know you have eternal life. Jesus died for everyone, but only those who receive Him will be saved.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: John 1:12
I was saved as a 18 year old freshmen on a Jesuit campus. You can be saved where ever you are whoever you are.
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Matthew 7:13-14
This is my testimony. I post it here because I want to give God glory. God used the testimonies (how people become Christians) of others in my life. I pray God will use my testimony as well.
Anyone from my past who may google my name to see if I'm on Facebook or some other internet site will find my story here. Jesus is real, my friends, and He's coming back soon. Surrender your life to Him before it is too late. Indecision is rejection. He loves you. He died for you. He is what you are looking for.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16