Speakers tell of journeys - Catholic Courier

Speakers tell of journeys

John Fraysier said he always assumed that his Catholic wife would eventually become Protestant.

After all, he was a campus minister and later an area director with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, an evangelical and interdenominational college campus mission program, who took some heat from his friends for marrying a Catholic in 1984.

Yet when he read Evangelical is not Enough by Thomas Howard, a prominent evangelical Christian who became Catholic, Fraysier began to see the Catholic Church in a new light. That, coupled with Fraysier’s reading of church history, opened his eyes to the possibility of joining the Catholic Church.

"When (Howard) became Catholic, it made quite a stir in the evangelical community that I was a part of," Fraysier said.

Fraysier eventually stepped down from his role with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and became Catholic in 1992. Now the owner of CastleGuard Pest Management, he said he has found great joy in being Catholic.

"It’s a wonderful thing for me to go to Mass on a Sunday morning and receive Christ in the Eucharist," Fraysier said.

Fraysier will detail how he became Catholic during a parish mission from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Nov. 12-14 at Church of the Holy Spirit, 1355 Hatch Road, Penfield. The mission, called "Catholic by Choice," also features Father Scott Caton, a priest of the Diocese of Rochester, and Ronald "R.J." Stansbury, a local college professor, who both will tell the stories of how they became Catholic.

Fraysier has had practice sharing his own story of how he became Catholic. In 2011, he appeared on the EWTN television show "The Journey Home," which features the stories of people who have joined the Catholic Church. He said he had sent an e-mail to the show offering to tell his story and hadn’t heard anything for months. Eventually when he checked again, he was told there were about 100 people ahead of him. Six months later, he got the long-awaited phone call inviting him to come to the studios in Columbus, Ohio, to tape the show.

Following his appearance on "The Journey Home," Fraysier said he received a request to speak at a parish mission, which got him thinking about the possibility of a parish mission based on conversion. The mission at Holy Spirit is the result of that inspiration, he said.

During the series, Stansbury, who is a professor of European history at Roberts Wesleyan College, said he plans to discuss some of the issues that have divided Catholics and Protestants over the years, such as the understanding of authority.

"I might talk about some of the misconceptions I had as a Protestant," Stansbury said. "Issues about Mary and Mary’s role in salvific history and doctrines concerning her that have developed over the years."

Stansbury, who has a doctorate in medieval history and a master’s degree in divinity, was baptized Catholic, later became Presbyterian and returned to the Catholic Church in 2002.

He said it was through his study as a college student that he was ultimately led to become Catholic. Three things played a major role in his journey: his study of Scripture, particularly around issues with the Eucharist; his study of history; and his reading of influential Catholic converts, including John Henry Newman.

He also led the Protestant-Catholic dialogue at Westminster Theological Seminary along with seminarians at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, and the discussions with Catholic seminarians were very influential, he said.

Stansbury said he and Father Caton have walked a similar conversion path, down to even attending the same seminary, although separated by several years.

Father Caton is a former Protestant minister who converted to Catholicism. He is married and received special permission from the Holy See to be ordained through a canonical process that allows for exceptions to the usual rule of celibacy in the Roman Rite. He is a professor of history and a coordinator of the pre-law program at Roberts Wesleyan College.

Fraysier said he is looking forward to hearing Father Caton and Stansbury speak.

"I stand in their shadows," Fraysier said. "They are much better examples, and I’m looking forward to their stories."

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