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Joleen and Chris Canwell

Our Journey to the Catholic Church

About us:
We were married in 1966 and moved to University Place in 1972. We have two grown children and we have been parishioners since we moved here. We are both converts who came to the Catholic Church before our marriage. We were instructed by a wonderful priest who also witnessed our marriage. We discovered the truth of Catholicism, each of us in our own way. We became very contented and happy as new Catholics and have remained that way.

Why we are Catholics:
Chris grew up in a divided home, where his parents agreed to a moratorium on religion as a way of maintaining peace. His father was raised in the Seventh Day Adventist church and his mother was a Catholic. Later on while attending an Episcopal Prep School, he studied comparative religion in a class and many questions arose about what denomination came from another, why the splits and what each held to be divine truth. Of course many questions arose and as he sought answers, he turned to his mother for insight. Along the way, her patient explanations, along with her locating a Jesuit apologist at Gonzaga Prep, answered all his questions. One day she asked if Chris would be interested in talking to a priest about the church. He did and began instruction, later being baptized in 1960.

Joleen had her own path to the church. She was raised in the Episcopal Church, was active in youth programs, church camp and had many friends who lived their faith in that church.

But she was always drawn to the Catholics that had crossed her path. Over many years, without their knowledge, these Catholics slowly brought her to the Church. It wasn’t what they said about their church, but how they lived their lives. When she met Chris in 1964, she eagerly attended Mass with him and asked for instruction. The Catholic Church enriched her experience of Christianity in ways not experienced before.

How being Catholic shapes and enriches our lives:
The Seven Sacraments are the lifeblood of our faith, enriching us every step of the way. Certainly the Sacrament of Matrimony was our grounding in what God wants for and from us. Our experience of being fed with the Eucharist sustains us in our every action as a family. It seems like every time we feel need, there is a grace available from the Sacraments, especially true with the Sacrament of Anointing at times of peril in our health. As we journey through life, we are sustained and empowered by the grace of the Church in our lives. As we enter the autumn of life, we feel comforted by the Church and the community of believers we have grown to know and love.

Read more personal stories here.