Entering into full Communion: Sharon Weilbaecher

Sharon Weilbaecher
St. Pius X Parish, New Orleans
Age: 80

Sharon Weilbaecher

My impending conversion to Catholicism has been a slow but steady journey that started when I met my husband Bob when we were students at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He was a medical oncology resident, and I was earning my master’s degree in medical illustration.

When Bob asked me to marry him, I knew he could never be anything but Catholic. My New Orleans-born-and-raised fiancé was devoutly Catholic – a graduate of Holy Name of Jesus Elementary, Jesuit High and Loyola University. So even though I was a practicing Presbyterian, I happily went through pre-Cana and married Bob in the Catholic Church in 1964 at Baltimore’s Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Before we were married, Bob occasionally would go with me to Presbyterian services, but after our wedding, we worshipped only at Catholic churches. I very strongly believe that husbands and wives should be together in their faith.

I have always been reminded of this in that wonderful story in the Old Testament, when Ruth says: “Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” It just didn’t feel right to be in church without Bob.

We moved to New Orleans in 1968, settling first in St. Angela Merici Parish, then moving to St. Pius X in 1970, where our four children attended Mass and school. Still, although I thoroughly enjoyed Catholic life, I always felt something stopping me from full conversion.

I had grown up in Fort Smith, Arkansas – a town of about 64,000 – and the Presbyterian Church was such a big part of my formative years. It was not only your “church” but your social life. On Sundays, you’d spend the whole day at church and then go to youth group at night. I also taught Bible school and sang in the choir.

As the years went on, the tug toward full conversion continued. Eight years ago, my son-in-law decided to become Catholic. We went to his ceremony, and it was just so wonderful for his family that I thought, “Ah, I should do it!” I also admired Bob’s late aunt, an Ursuline sister, and began volunteering at the Blessed Seelos Center at the invitation of Bob’s cousin.

Over the years, I have watched my Catholic friends going to Sunday Mass and daily Mass and treating this as such an important part of their lives. Such faith!

As Bob always said about the Catholic Church: “From the disciples down, it’s a direct line.”

I don’t think I was ready before, but finally, at age 80, I am definitely ready. I want to feel that I’m really a Catholic, and not like I have one foot in the door and the other out of it.

I’m looking forward to finally feeling at home at this church that I’ve being going to all these years!

– Beth Donze

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