Jan Drenthe

I entered the Catholic Church on Easter 2015. This was something I never would have expected or even desired as I grew up going to Protestant churches all my life. My wife, Pat, was baptized Catholic but did not practice the faith of her childhood because she wanted to go to services with me. My life changed immensely when one day in 2012, I went to my doctor’s office at the Medical Office Building of Santa Teresita. Upon leaving, I was encouraged by his wife to volunteer at Santa Teresita Manor, a skilled nursing facility administered by the Carmelite Sisters. After signing up, I was assigned to put my musical talents at the service of the elders living at the Manor. I volunteered once a week, singing Gospel songs as well as songs that would take many of them back in time, bringing them beautiful memories. I even familiarized myself with some of the Catholic feast days, customs, and shared some historical events, one of which was the apparition of “Our Lady of Knock”. I think this is funny since I wasn’t even Catholic at the time, but Catholicism felt so comfortable, so natural and it made perfectly good sense to me.

After volunteering at Santa Teresita for two years, I got to know the Carmelite Sisters who worked on the campus. I remember fondly sitting under the large oak tree and seeing the sisters briskly walking to and fro across the meadow and feel that peaceful presence of God. They would always invite me to sing at different feast day celebrations even when I didn’t practice their same faith. This is what amazed me. One of the sisters would even ask me, “When are you coming home?” To which my answer always was “How can I be “coming home” when I was never there!” Little did I know that God had me exactly where He wanted me to be. The Sisters were always available to answer all my questions and I saw how they lived their faith in action.

One morning, through a sheer miracle I was introduced to a TV channel EWTN (Eternal World Television Network) which I have been watching faithfully ever since! One of my favorite programs was, and still is a presentation by Mother Angelica who taught me a lot about the Catholic faith and made me even more aware of the importance of our Blessed Mother and the Holy Eucharist. The witness of the Sisters and the education I was receiving made me even more attracted to the Catholic Church. However, I still had some questions, one of which was the Real Presence of the Holy Eucharist. I recall sitting alone in Saint Joseph Chapel at Santa Teresita, facing the tabernacle and asking: “God, if You’re really there, please show me Your presence”. Immediately, I felt a gushing of warm air onto my face. Several days later I made the same plea with our Blessed Mother Mary, who made her presence known to me as I suddenly started singing that famous tune by the Beatles “Let It Be” (prior to this, I was unfamiliar with the song).

On the Feast of Corpus Christi in 2014, I attended the Santa Teresita Procession to help transport residents for Mass. I stood at the side altar where they put the residents in wheelchairs. As the priest lifted the host, I suddenly felt so strongly the presence of God. I knew right then and there that the Holy Eucharist was indeed God Himself. I decided to begin the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) later on that year.

This is my story about how meeting the Carmelite Sisters has helped me to grow in my Christian faith, and eventually to enter the Catholic Church. Pat and I even had the great privilege of having our marriage blessed at St. Joseph Chapel. You can imagine how happy we both are to be more united in our faith. God eventually placed me where He knew I belonged and brought Pat back to His House of Worship! Amen!