Transition: From SDA to Mormon to Catholic

Introduction

Everyone goes through major changes in their lives.  Things are a certain way in childhood and those things evolve into other things.  So it is with me when it comes to religion.  From the time that I was born, until age nine, I was raised in the Seventh-day Adventist church.  In 1987, I was baptized into the Mormon church, also known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or “LDS.”  There I stayed until 2022, when I was baptized and confirmed into the Catholic faith.

Seventh-day Adventist

From birth through early childhood, I was raised in the SDA faith.  I even went to an SDA academy in Oregon for first and second grades.  For first grade, I pretty much swallowed down what was spoon fed to me, but in second grade, I started to question the religion.

At the time, I questioned the Trinity and I had questions.  It was so long ago that I don’t remember the specific questions.  Of course, there was no internet, at least as we know it, back then, so I couldn’t research for myself.  I had to rely on what I was being taught at school and in church.  And by the way, church was odd all around.  First of all, I was the only kid on my block who went to church on Saturdays.

I wasn’t allowed to go out and play as it was the Sabbath.  On Sundays, most of the other kids went to church and likewise, they weren’t allowed to play outside.  So weekends were kind of boring.  I wound up playing with a girl whose family didn’t go to church.

We’d get in all sorts of mischief, like walking down to the nearby river without an older kid or an adult.  But at the time, and we were the same age as I recall, we were eight, so, looking back on it, I don’t think that doing that was so bad, aside from the fact that we were forbidden to do that.  At the time, the whole neighborhood was safe for kids to run and around and play.  The adults would look out for each others’ kids, so I felt safe there.

The SDA church was, as I got older, weird to me.  Their beliefs were and are strange to me, but to each his or her own.  I understood their teachings of the Trinity, i.e. Father, Son and Holy Ghost, but as a child, I thought to myself that if Jesus Christ is God’s only begotten son, then they would be two separate entities.  I couldn’t reconcile their beliefs with my thoughts, so my childhood self shut down.

I had no choice about going to the SDA church.  That decision was made for me and was heavily enforced by my late grandmother who came to the SDA church as a Baptist.

Church was somewhat useful.  On one occasion, when I was, I think, six, my Sabbath School class and I were scheduled to sing Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam for the adult congregation.  Well, that Saturday rolled around and guess who was the one and only kid who showed up?  This guy!

I was planning to hide behind the other kids, but that was no longer an option.  The teacher told my grandmother that we could just postpone the performance until the other kids showed up.  But then she looked at me and she asked if I’d be interested in singing by myself.  The idea of singing in front of people terrified me, so I looked at my grandmother with panic in my eyes and she simply said, “you can do it.  I believe in you!”

So, I decided to go for it.  I’ll never forget the date when I came out of my shell: Saturday, March 7, 1987.

The teacher held up cue cards with the lyrics, but I didn’t need them.  I stared straight ahead through the window that showed the parking lot and the library across the way.  And then, something came over me.  I don’t know what or why, but I decided to go right into the congregation.

I was using a wireless microphone, so I took it off of its stand, and just walked off the stage into the congregation while singing.  I didn’t feel nervous and I got through it just done.  To this day, I don’t know what possessed me to do this.

Somehow, I got through it.  I sang as best I could and, given my grandmother’s faith in me, I gave it all I had.  My teacher said that was the first time that she’d had anyone just walk off the stage and down the center aisle.  I wasn’t trying to make history, I was just doing what felt right at the time.

It was after that performance that I remember being less shy.  Something within me awoke and I found it easier to talk to people.

That story might seem trivial to most, but for me, it was a pivotal moment in my childhood that I will always remember.  Sometimes, when I’m up against a difficult or frightening task, I remember my grandmother’s words, and I get the encouragement that I need.  So in that sense, the SDA faith played a major role in my life.

As for the school, I am grateful for the time that I had there.  It was an odd arrangement.  In my classroom, grades sat in their own rows.  First grade was in the first row on through the fourth graders in the fourth row.  It was a small class, which meant one-on-one time with the teacher, which in turn made learning, at least for me, easier.

But all good things come to a close.  In 1987, my mother got remarried, having divorced my apparently violent father when I was two.  It was then that I learned about a religion that made more sense to me as a kid.

Mormonism

In 1987, myself, my mother and my new stepdad moved to Las Vegas.  My stepdad offered to make sure I got to a Seventh-day Adventist church, but I immediately and politely shut that down.  I’d finally broken away from the SDA church and I didn’t ever want to go back.

In time, the missionaries came over to teach me, something that’s required before one is baptized into the faith.  They were two young women from different parts of the country.  In the Mormon church, missionaries are referred to not by their first names, but by the title of either Elder or Sister.  They tried to pull a fast one on me, saying that they had the same first name.  But I saw through it.  I saw the humor in it, but I didn’t fall for it!

As I learned more about the church, the more it made sense to me.  In this faith, Heavenly Father and Jesus are two separate and distinct entities, and that struck a chord within me.

On October 17, 1987, I was baptized into the church.  I had to be dunked in the water a couple of times, because in the church, the baptismal prayer has to be said word for word.  My stepdad, as I recall, messed up a couple of the words, and we had to redo it.  But the second time, my baptismal garments bubbled to the top, and given that one has to go completely under the water, body and garment, it had to be done again.

Finally, I was properly baptized!  No more dunking for this guy.  Or so I thought.

When I achieved the age of 12, several things happened.  I was ordained to the office of deacon in the church’s Aaronic Priesthood.  As a deacon, I was responsible for helping pass the sacrament, or what some call the Communion.  Also, as a youth, I was expected to go to the temple and get baptized in the name of those who were no longer living.

Aptly named baptisms for the dead, I went to the St. George Temple and was baptized just as I was for myself, but I was essentially loaning out my body for the sake of whatever person it was.  I don’t remember much about that day, but I do remember being dunked, brought back up, dunked, etc.

The baptisms went by so fast that I definitely remember being dizzy when my turn was over.  I forget how many names I did that day, but I remember the disorientation after it was done.  I made a note to myself that I never wanted to do that again.

As I got older, I became more and more involved.  As an adult, I was pretty much forced into a program called the Young Single Adults (YSA) program, where young adults from the age of eighteen up to thirty were pretty much expected to seriously date and find a spouse.

But not just a spouse, in the earthly sense!

In the Mormon faith, when one gets married within the temple’s walls, one is married to their spouse, also called an eternal companion, for not just time, but for all of eternity.  That scared me.  At the time, I had no interest in getting married again. I’d married a Methodist girl and the marriage did not work out.  I was not thrilled to perhaps have a repeat result.

I went on a couple of dates with one young woman, and for me, it just wasn’t working.  She was the kind of woman I’d want to marry on earth, but committing to eternity was unattractive to me.

Fast forward to 2003.  That is where I went to a YSA dance in Las Vegas.  There was one young lady with whom I wanted to dance, but I was too shy to ask her.  I paced around the building, trying to summon the courage to approach her.  Another woman noticed that, and asked why I was walking around.  I told her, so she took me by the hand, walked me over to the first young lady and said, “this is a dance.  So, dance!”

The first young lady and I danced for one song and then I went about my merry way, because we’d got to the talking part and we discussed musical tastes.  When I told her I was a diehard techno fan, she had nothing nice to say about the genre and people who listen to it.  That was enough for me!  I politely excused myself and sat down at a table and busied myself with a game on my cell phone, which back then would have been primitive to say the least.

Soon, the second young woman approached me and asked me to dance.  So I got up and we danced all night.  I, along with her and her friend danced to Rednex’ Cotton Eye Joe, complete with the dosey-do and stuff.  Looking back on it, it was embarrassing, but we had fun.

She and I ended up talking outside and we exchanged phone numbers.  I fully expected to never hear from her again, but the next day she called me, and we arranged a time to hang out.  To make a long story short, we dated, and two weeks later, we were engaged, which in YSA terms is a long, long time.  On January 24, 2004, we got married.

Her family was, at the time, in Syracuse, New York, so we relocated there.  Over the years, we prepared to go to the temple.  I was advanced to the level of priesthood that is required to enter the temple to receive one’s endowments, which is a series of promises between the person and God.  It’s required in order to be married for eternity.

I wasn’t all in on the temple thing.  Even back then, I thought it was ridiculous and a sham, which it is.  But getting sealed for time and all eternity meant the world to my wife.  I moved forward not for me, but for her, since it was so bloody important to her.

In 2018, we were married for, in the church’s eyes, eternity.  I remember kneeling at the altar in the Hartford Connecticut Temple.  As I did so, I remember thinking, “this is such bullshit.”  But I did it for my wife.  Besides, I thought to myself, it isn’t as if any of this is real.

I gave up on the church’s teachings, but I had to keep up the image to keep the wife happy.

No longer did I believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet.  He was a pervert who married at least one fourteen-year-old girl and married numerous adult women, claiming that because he was a prophet, he was commanded by God to diddle little kids.

No longer did I believe that marriage in the temple was for eternity.  In fact, I didn’t believe in anything that goes on in an LDS temple.  Let the Mormons believe what they will, but I simply no longer bought into anything to do with the temple.

No longer did I believe that Smith saw God and Jesus standing next to each other in Palmyra, New York.  Such a thing is impossible, because of Christ truly did appear to Smith, then that means that He has already made his Second Coming, which of course has yet to happen.  And no one, not even the Savior, knows when the end will come.   I think we can all agree on that, regardless of what religion we observe.

No longer did I believe that twelve-year-old boys hold any sort of priestly authority.

Smith claimed to have translated some golden plates into what is known as The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, but here’s the thing.  He was so poorly educated that he could barely read English, let alone whatever language they claim the so-called “golden plates” were written in.

Smith, and the Mormons in general, were constantly chased out of wherever they tried to leave, mostly because of polygamy, wherein Mormon men were married to multiple women with the excuse being that that’s the way God wanted it.  Of course, He would never go against His own teachings and mandate that men be married to more than one woman.

He certainly wouldn’t abide a grown man marrying and having sexual relations with a teenage girl.  In this day and age, Smith would be locked up for life for sleeping with a teenage girl.  Back then, however, he tried to make it presentable.

That was one of many reasons that the Mormons were forced to go west into what is now known as Utah.  In order to join the union, however, they had to renounce polygamy in 1890.  They tried to say that they stopped because of a command from God, but the reality is that they saw that they’d never be recognized as a state until they stopped the perverted practice of polygamy.

As the years went on, I believed in the church less and less.  In 2021, things changed.  I’d had enough and I had to do what was right for me, my marriage be damned.

There is so much more that I could write about the LDS church and its teachings, but one man has already done it for me in the form of a CES Letter.  You can read that to learn about all the problems with the church’s teachings as it relates to teaching, you know, the truth.

Catholicism

In 2021, I’d had enough of the LDS church, and I looked towards Catholicism, which had always intrigued me.  I went to a few Masses even while I was in the LDS faith. I’m sorry to say that I took it at face value.  I saw all the standing, kneeling, standing, shake hands, kneel, kneel and so forth and said to myself, “nu-uh!  No way!”

At the time, I didn’t do any research on the faith and I didn’t go back.  But that all changed in 2022, during the pandemic.

It was that year that I started to do actual research into the faith, and every step of the way, I liked what I saw.  I decided to go to Mass one day at a parish in Albany, New York, just a few blocks down from where I lived.  I remember the Mass being so beautiful, so inspirational.  It actually brought tears to my eyes.  I instantly knew that this is where God wanted me to be.

I called the parish office and asked how I could learn more about the church.  The secretary said she’d make an appointment for me with the priest the upcoming Sunday.  I met with him and he then told me I could learn more through the Church’s RCIA program.  When the next session began, I joined in and my life changed forever.

Known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, it was similar to the Mormon church in that it was a series of lessons that were required in order to be baptized.

With each lesson, I became more and more invested in it.  Their beliefs matched mine.  In Mormonism, the Trinity is not a belief.  But as an adult, it explained why I believed the way I believed, contrary to the Mormon church’s teachings.

The lessons went on through the winter and the beginning of spring.  Towards the end, we were asked to make a commitment to God and the Church.  I made that commitment and on Easter Vigil of 2022, Saturday, April 16, 2022, I, along with the other RCIA students, was baptized, confirmed and I took my First Communion.

Mormonism was not totally out of my life.  My wife tolerated me going to RCIA, but insisted that I join her on Sundays.  To make her happy and to keep her yap shut, I played the role of the good little Mormon.  I went to church, I helped administer the sacrament, and I even served as the congregation’s librarian, investing hours and hours of my time into reorganizing a library that had completely fallen apart.

But in April of 2024, I’d had enough.  I finally had the courage to formally leave the LDS church.  By formally, I mean that I filled out paperwork that was filed with headquarters in Salt Lake City.  At the end of April, I was removed from the records of the church and I haven’t looked back.

There were implications for my wife, however.  Now, in the eyes of their church, she is no longer sealed to me, which means, they teach, that we will pass each other as strangers in the next life.

But because she is still sealed in the eyes of the church (it’s a long story!), she is, according to them, guaranteed an eternal companion in the next life.  Hey, as long as it doesn’t affect me, I don’t give a damn!  And anyway, it’s all a falsehood.  In Heaven, we will not marry nor be given in marriage.  Marriages are only on earth.  In the next life, we won’t have spouses.  Anyone who teaches otherwise, Mormons or others, is teaching false doctrine and should be avoided at all costs.

So now, I’m completely Catholic.  I serve in a variety of capacities in my parish, ranging from preparing Communion (and cleaning up after) to altar serving to ushering.  I pretty much volunteer whenever and wherever I’m needed.  It’s a small parish, so I am often kept busy.

Conclusion

I have transitioned a lot religiously, and I am finally happy with where I am in life religiously.  I recognize the Catholic Church as being the one and only church formed by Jesus Christ Himself.  Joseph Smith was not appointed by God as a prophet.  He made that up in order to get laid.  Of that, there is no dispute.

I am happy where I am.  Catholicism gives me the spiritual peace that I need and I recognize it as the only true Church.  As I said, it was formed by Jesus Himself in 33 A.D.  Ever since then, the Church has attained billions of believers.  That speaks volumes.

What a trip it’s been.  But all that matters now is that I am at peace and I am a member of the only church to be truly ordained of God.  Most of the other religions mean well, but they simply don’t have the truth, and I feel sorry for them.

All that matters now is that I’ve found the truth.  I only wish I’d taken Catholicism seriously the first time I had the opportunity.