I was asked to share my story at all four Masses at Saint Macartan’s in Mornington last Sunday.
Being asked to keep to a maximum of five minutes, there is always so much that has to be left out, but that I would like to have shared. Nevertheless, here is a copy of the testimony I gave. Perhaps I’ll get a chance to share more of the details another time.
For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Josh Moore, and I have been invited to share my story with you all here at St Macartan’s as part of the Plenary Council’s invitation to ‘have your say’.
I was not always a Catholic. I was born as child number 1 of 2 in my parent’s marriage. Mum had been baptized and confirmed a Catholic as an adult, but had hardly knocked on the door of a church again until meeting my father, who was a Presbyterian elder.
I grew up in a faithful Presbyterian household, learning to pray, being baptized and catechized, and learning the Scriptures. I recall hearing the Bible exposited chapter by chapter from Genesis through to second Samuel in church as a child.
In my teens my parents left the Presbyterian Church for the Baptist. This had an impact on me, and really left me unsure of my faith. Not long afterward, and only partly related, I fell into depression and committed many sins I had always promised myself I would never do. This peaked with me dropping out of school at the end of year 11, despite having two year 12 subjects completed, and being predicted by some teachers to have the top grades in my year level.
Years later, after my parents had separated and I had made my way through university and various TAFE courses, I developed a group of friends with some Christian mates. One night, I was pressing one about his beliefs, saying, “How do you know that what the Bible says is true?” I left our discussion that night, reflecting on the way home that I had claimed (however loosely) all my life to be a Christian, but never having read the book we claimed to believe in. Over the next year or so I read the Bible cover-to-cover. In truth, I was half hoping to disprove it, but by the time I got to Deuteronomy, I was convinced the Bible was true.
I went from that realization to studying a Masters of Divinity. But I pulled out after six months, as my reading and zeal for the traditions of my forefathers had led me to reading John Calvin, Martin Luther, then Saint Augustine and finally the Church Fathers. I realized that I had been doing history backwards, and my reading of Church history from the Fathers forward was revealing to me a Church that identified itself as Catholic within 10 years of the completion of the New Testament. That, combined with reading some hard-hitting articles about the two key reformation principles, Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura, left me in a crisis of faith.
By the grace of God, through much reading including the early Church Fathers, the Catholic Catechism, the Councils of Trent, Vatican I and parts of the other councils, Thomas Aquinas and the writings of my Patron Saint Augustine, as well as Mass attendance, catechesis 1-on-1 with the diocese’s exorcist, prayer from family, friends and my now fiancé, I came into the Church under Fr. Joel [Peart] on the Feast of Christ the King in 2017. My mother a week prior also did her first-ever confession, more than 40 years after being baptized a Catholic.
Since becoming Catholic, I have been very grateful for many wonderful experiences, including meeting like-minded individuals, sharing conversions stories with other converts including Bishop Elliot, travelling to Italy, Lourdes, Patmos and most of the places Paul went in the New Testament, getting engaged and pending trips to do the Camino de Santiago and Fatima later this year.
I have been enriched by the Holy Spirit’s work and the Church in it’s history and prayers, art, culture, the support of the Angels and Saints, the Sacraments, Our Blessed Mother, her Rosary, but most of all the Eucharist. Our Church is a wonderful gift, and we are all blessed to be a part of Christ’s Mystical Body.
May we all remember to appreciate these gifts during these difficult times, and may Our Lady of the Eucharist intercede for the Church as it discerns its next steps for Christ at this Plenary Council. Thanks for listening, and God bless.