By ANN BLASICK, Special Contributor | Published July 1, 2004
This article is the first in a series of interviews with young adults in the archdiocese who have recently joined the church. This month, David Mobley of Atlanta shares his answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about how he decided to become Catholic as a young adult.
David Mobley, a parishioner at the Cathedral of Christ the King, entered the Catholic Church at this year’s Easter Vigil Mass. Having earned a mechanical engineering degree from Auburn University and a law degree from the University of Alabama, Mobley currently works for the Department of Justice as a federal prosecutor.
The following interview describes some of the aspects of his decision to become Catholic.
Has faith or religion always been an important component of your life? Have you always believed in God? I’ve always believed in God, but faith was not an important part of my life until my last few years of college. My mom took me to a Baptist church as a kid, but then my dad bought a boat. After that I would usually go out on the boat on Sundays rather than to church.
How did your spirituality change from childhood to adulthood? In college I went through some rough periods, and my Christian friends would come to the rescue. They didn’t force religion on me, but they would always invite me to join them. I got involved with Campus Crusade and went to Mass for the first time with my friend Heather. It was during this time that I went on a Catholic retreat and had my first unofficial confession with a priest. Initially I was searching for community; gradually it evolved into searching for God.
I will always remember what a friend said to me, “Even after you reach all of your goals in life, and I’m confident that you will, I’m concerned that you’re not going to be completely happy.” That stuck with me. A few years ago, when I was hired as a federal prosecutor for the Department of Justice and I still wasn’t completely happy with my life, I was reminded of my friend’s words.
What were your initial impressions of Catholicism? The first several times I went to Mass, I found the experience to be bizarre, alien and uncomfortable. I went looking for sermons about what was going on in my life. Instead I felt like an outsider because I didn’t feel connected with the ritual of the Catholic Church and because I couldn’t take Communion.
Was there a particular event, person or experience that brought you to the Catholic Church? My closest friend in college, Heather, invited me to my first Mass and, ironically, years later when I moved to Atlanta, she introduced me to Christ the King. CTK was the first place I attended Mass in Atlanta. I don’t think her influence in my life has just been a coincidence. It’s clear that God was pulling me in a particular direction all along through Heather and other strong Catholic friends. I was impressed by the strong spiritual leadership of several of my friends’ fathers who were Catholic. Their spiritual leadership, such as insisting on finding a church for Mass while on vacation, stuck with me.
What aspect of the faith drew you in particular to the Catholic Church? Little things along the way started pointing me towards the Catholic Church. I started noticing Catholics. I didn’t know they were Catholic at the time, but I knew they were good people and there was something different about them. Yet, they were never overly aggressive about sharing their faith, and I appreciated that.
Ironically the things that first turned me off and made me uncomfortable about the Catholic Church were the very same things that finally convinced me to become Catholic. I walked into the RCIA coordinator’s office on one of the last possible days to sign up for the 2003-04 RCIA program at CTK and told her that all of the things I used to not like about the Catholic Church—the ritual, tradition, 2,000 years of history—were the things that I now wanted.
Describe the Easter Vigil when you came into the Church. What was the highlight?
All of my friends and family were there, and most weren’t Catholic. The highlight was receiving Communion from the archbishop for the first time. The experience was surreal. Words couldn’t do it justice.
What are your recommendations to others who want to learn more about Catholicism? I’d recommend reading The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Catholicism by Robert T. O’Gorman, Understanding the Mass by Charles Belmonte, and for history buffs, Pilgrim Church: A Popular History of Catholic Christianity by William J. Bausch.
What did you think of the RCIA process? I loved it. I thought it was one of the most attractive aspects of becoming Catholic. I think people who convert without taking full advantage of RCIA are short-changing themselves. At the very least, converts should use the RCIA process as a learning tool. For instance, when I was asked a question about the church during catechesis, but didn’t know the answer, I took it as an opportunity to learn something new about Catholic views.
Has it been difficult maintaining spiritual momentum now that RCIA is over? No, because I knew all along that I needed to meet Catholics through avenues outside of Sunday Mass and RCIA. I became involved with a Vineyard Community and service activities during RCIA, and I continue these things now that RCIA is complete.
What would you say to Catholics about evangelizing to their Protestant friends? My favorite saying from RCIA is the quote from St. Francis: “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary use words.” Setting a positive example is certainly a strong way to attract new Catholics, but we also have a duty to explain and defend the faith whenever we have an opportunity. We don’t need to drag people to church; we need to lead them.