Laura Heyer: Some thoughts about her faith and her 11-year journey home to the Catholic Church

Once you understand the Eucharist, you can never leave the Church, not because the Church won’t let you, but because your heart won’t let you.” The image attached to this story is one I’ve seen many times recently and includes a quote that summarizes what brought me into the Church in 1985 and the Treasure that keeps me there.

No matter the flaws of the human institution that have come to light in the Catholic Church on earth, especially in recent years, her Divine Origin and Who she truly is, the Body of Christ on earth and in Heaven, established by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, are what keep me in her fold.

My first encounter with Jesus in the Mass was in the fall of 1974 when I first attended a Mass at the Newman Center on Mizzou’s Columbia, Missouri campus. I had been invited to walk there on a Sunday morning with some of my new friends, 3 of whom were Catholic, who just “happened” to live in the same dormitory wing as I did. When I entered the Church building, I remember being struck by the quietude and the reverential feel I found there as practically everyone there knelt in what I came to understand later was Adoration of the One Who was there in our midst. I couldn’t tell you what the homily was about and didn’t know then in an intellectual sense, but now know assuredly that what I felt during that Mass and as I left that Church was the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

It took me 11 years of prayer, the study of Holy Scripture, the pursuit and attainment of a dual Master of Divinity (theology) and Counseling degree from a Baptist seminary, including a few years spent as a hospital chaplain, and my own internal strife, to understand that and to realize that I was inevitably and irreversibly being drawn to my true spiritual Home, the Catholic Church. It was a lengthy and circuitous route that led me Home. The Lord truly does “draw straight with crooked lines”!

It was a few years later–I believe it was in 1981–when my aunt, who was a high school English and literature teacher, gave me a small booklet containing the poem, “The Hound of Heaven.” (http://www.houndofheaven.com/poem) That poem had a greater impact on me than any other piece of literature apart from the Bible. I read it over and over for years as I came to understand I was being pursued by God and driven into the arms of the Church (eventually). God, the Divine Lover, Who knows and loves each one of us better than we know ourselves, was chasing after me and, as I fought with reservations and doubts during the next 11 years, I found that there was nowhere to escape to and nowhere to hide from the One Who was pursuing me.

During the Easter Season of 2025, I will celebrate my 40th anniversary as a Roman Catholic, here in the Church where my mind and heart have found their home. I’ve discovered that not only was I drawn by the Almighty Himself through the persistent tugging of my heart, but I also came to realize that my mind could be satisfied in this Home as every obstacle or objection I encountered was met by understanding and for those things that I had difficulty with or that were beyond my understanding, I came to acknowledge finally in 1984-1985, while a Candidate for full communion in the Church during RCIA, that great wisdom expressed by one of the Saints, “I believe that I might understand.”

–Laura Heyer, Coronation of Our Lady parishioner

Stay tuned for part 2: While on the Journey to the Church, Some Obstacles and Objections Encountered and Overcome

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