Former Catholic Church Member
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.