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Former Catholic Church Member

 

"I Found My Direction Home"

By Douglas Eckhoff

I have often reflected on how I came to this moment in my life. After all, I am 47 years old, have been married 20 years and have three daughters. I was born, raised, and educated in the Roman Catholic Church.

I studied philosophy and theology in a Roman Catholic college-seminary and spent three years in the Society of Jesus, a Roman Catholic religious order, preparing for priesthood. And that is where the first turn in the road appeared.

In 1985 I had the strong sense that I was being called to marry and have a family. That of course eliminated any possibility of serving as a priest, or so I thought.

My desire to marry and my growing disillusionment with the Catholic Church put me on a long path of searching. I realized that I never really had a personal relationship with Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ and I searched long and hard where I might find that relationship.

That began a long period of spiritual wandering. I worshipped with Lutherans, Episcopalians, Baptists, and Pentecostals. I visited Hindu Ashrams and practiced Zen Buddhism.

I eventually found a place in the Russian Orthodox Church, but while its liturgy was most beautiful, I found no spiritual sustenance for the remainder of the week.

In 1997 while working as a staffing manager for a major accounting and consulting firm I met some fine staff who I found out were "Mormons." I knew I had to find out what this "Mormonism" was all about. Thus began a ten year investigation.

I read, but did not internalize the Book of Mormon, I read whatever I could, searched every Internet site. I realized that this might be my last hope, but I was not spiritually strong enough, nor open to the Lordís call to be able to respond.

I knew for all those ten years of reading and investigating that if I committed to this there would be no turning back, but I had hardened my heart.

I also wanted to know God! And in a moment of what I can only call grace-filled I found the courage to hit that little button on the church web-site that said, "contact a missionary" and I felt great peace.

Missionaries called and we set up a first meeting. Teachings continued and here I am. For the remainder of my days Elders Bedwell and McGill will always be "my missionaries." They are indeed men of the Lord, spirit-filled like the great men in the Book of Mormon.

For the first time in many years I prayed on my knees and I knew in the deepest depths of my soul that Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ knew me and loved me. I found my direction home.

It is with great joy that I can say, "I am a Latter-day Saint!"

I was baptized Saturday evening October 27th, 2007. It was a beautiful evening, after a day of heavy rain. My wife and two youngest children who are not members (yet) joined me for this joyous occasion.

The ward prepared a little booklet program which I never expected. What I found most amazing was that I was joined by many ward missionaries and members...some of whom I did not even know! It was very touching.

We sang a song, a prayer was said, and Elder McGill, one of my missionary teachers, gave a beautiful talk on the meaning of baptism. Then Elder Bedwell and I entered the baptismal pool.

As I stepped into the water I noticed how warm it was and then, for a brief moment, I became so focused everything was blocked out....the people watching, the water.......I placed my hand on Elder Bedwell's arm and he held my other wrist.

When he began the words of Baptism I heard them in my mind...loud...clear....and I sensed an instantaneous flash of the presence of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost...and then I felt a gentle falling back into the water, calm, peace, freedom, and it was done.

After changing out of our baptismal clothes, Elder Bedwell and I returned to the congregation and I was officially welcomed into the Ward on behalf of the Bishopric by Elder Shaffer. We closed with a beautiful prayer by Sister Schaffer and then the closing song, "All Glory, Laud, and Honor".

It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. I was confirmed the following day, October 28th, 2007. It was another moment of profound love and grace.

I testify that the Book of Mormon is true and Joseph Smith is a prophet and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the True Church and is led by prophets in our day. My only prayer is that I may be able to serve the Church and my brothers and sisters with patience, humility, and confidence.
 

 

 

 

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