Church’s ‘ancientness’ drew Protestant to Catholicism

Nicholas Pizana | The Michigan Catholic

Tim Gelletly described his conversion to Catholicism from evangelical Protestantism as a “movement.”

DETROIT — For Detroiter Tim Gelletly, conversion was the power of the Holy Spirit at work in his life, and his conversion spread to other members of his family as well.

“I was raised in a Christian home, but you could classify it as an evangelical household. My mother grew up Catholic, my father grew up Lutheran, and then when they married my mother became Lutheran,” Gelletly said, recalling his checkered religious past.

“I was baptized in the Lutheran Church. Shortly afterwards my family started going to Assembly of God, which is an evangelical church.”

Gelletly was one of thousands of candidates who attended Rite of Election ceremonies last weekend at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit. While catechumens — those never baptized in any Christian faith — wrote their names into the Book of the Elect, Gelletly also formally declared his intent to receive the sacraments at Easter.

Speaking on what brought him to the Catholic Church, Gelletly said he couldn’t easily pinpoint it.

“It’s an act of the Holy Spirit. It’s a movement, and for me to say there was one particular moment, isn’t something I can do,” he said, adding that he’s always been drawn to the Church’s “ancientness” and sense of legacy.

“I’ve appreciated the historical roots of the Church in general,” he said.

“You can trace my priest’s authority to the bishop, and the bishop’s to the bishop before him, all the way to the Upper Room. That is something that was lost on me prior to coming here. Everything that is done in Mass, and everything that is done in worship is symbolic — there is a very, very rich background behind it.”

His drift towards Catholicism began when he was introduced to a new Church.

“My wife and I got married and started going to a more liturgical church, and that was my first real immersion into a liturgical environment,” he said.

His experience at that church prompted Gelletly to start looking further into Catholicism. Soon Gelletly began doing his own research into the Church. On long drives, Gelletly listened to Catholic XM Radio stations, which furthered his interest. When his family moved, he saw it as his opportunity to follow through with conversion.

“About two years ago, we started searching for a new home, and I felt really prompted, by my own studying, to become a Catholic.”

Because of her background in Catholicism, he consulted his mother about converting. For weeks he spoke with her, until she came to the conclusion that she too would convert, renewing her faith as a Catholic after years as a Protestant.

“She’s all wrapped up in it,” Gelletly said. “She’s really appreciative of her walk.”

Gelletly said that although only his mother is converting with him, his family is supportive for the most part. Although his spiritual journey has taken him to many different places, Gelletly has found Catholicism to be a good fit.

“I can really see how the Holy Spirit has been at work in my life since my birth, and even before then, to give me these really diverse experiences in a Christian understanding, and then to bring me to a very neat conclusion to this point, of me being Catholic.”