I come from a blended family with genuinely spiritual parents and stepparents on both sides. I attended a United Church with my father and stepmother in elementary and at 10 years of age I asked them if I could be baptized (I was not baptized as a baby). This was a beautiful experience for me and it was the baptism recognized by the Catholic Church when I entered almost 15 years later. Whatever might be said of the United Church and its orthodoxy in Canada today, it certainly provided me a meaningful start in my Christian faith.
Then I went to live with my mother and stepfather. They attended a Mennonite Brethren church. This truly was saving grace in my adolescence, providing me with sound biblical teaching and tight youth group who I spent my highschool years with. In the Anabaptist tradition, I was encouraged to choose baptism for myself and I was delighted do so. While I appreciate now that we should only have one baptism, at the time, this act encouraged me in my faith and helped to strengthen my relationship with God. I even chose to go to a Bible College and spent two years there learning the Scriptures (which I have now all but forgotten - for shame).
Enter the Catholic nun. I transferred from Bible College to the University of Waterloo. I had to take a second language and since I was studying Medieval and Ancient History, I, of course, chose Latin. Sister Elizabeth, avec habit, sat beside me. I thought that this was my chance to share with her the love of Christ and how he can free us from the 'chains' of religion. Oh the irony. We got to know eachother well. (After loosing touch with her, I was able to track her down 6 years later - literally just as she was getting in her van to move across the country to her new convent back in the East of Canada - and was able to tell her I was entering the Church!)
During my studies I went on exchange to Northern Ireland, Ian Paisley was alive and well, and the troubles had only just subsided. I went to a protestant youth rally with friends (which felt a little too c. 1540), with a fire-breathing preacher who had come over from the dark Catholic side and warned about the papal anti-Christ. To say the least, I let my Catholic sympathies take a back seat.
Once graduated I applied to do my MA in Medieval History (with a focus on Latin Literature of the Late Antique period in Gaul). Before starting, I did an internship with the C.S. Lewis Foundation, an inter-denominational organization encouraging Christian faith growth and discussion in academia. I met many fine Catholic speakers and writers during this short time - Peter Kreeft and Joseph Pearce among them. The talks given by the latter were instrumental in making me re-consider the Catholic faith after a long lapse in interest. His book Literary Converts is still my favorite book by a modern Catholic author. More than this inspiration by Catholic intellectuals, my faith was burgeoned by regular work-a-say Catholics who lived the faith as a real part of their lives, not as a showy add-on, but as graceful layer infusing all their actions. From there it was simple step to enter into the RCIA program at University while completing my Masters.
I haven't always lived my faith with grace (but certainly with Grace). I am a child of my culture and much of what the Catholic Church teaches didn't sit well with me. But I finally realized that the Church doesn't demand that I sign up to it. I don't have to renew my subscription. But if I do, I better know what I am getting into.
Thankfully I had children. They are my salvation, effective through the grace offered by Christ. They ask so much more of me - to sort out what I think and believe and tell them straight. Thank God. Nevertheless, life is messy and each day for me with children (I can't believe I am a mother) forces me to grapple with what is truly important and what kind of person I truly want to be. I look forward with great hope that "all will shall be well and all shall be well; and all manner of things shall be well".