The following story appeared in the April 28 Idaho Catholic Register.
Editor’s note: As has been our Easter Season tradition, this issue of the Idaho Catholic Register profiles in our series, “He Left the 99 to Rescue Me,” a number of converts who received the Easter sacraments this year.
By Brook Thelander
for the Idaho Catholic Register
BOISE -- For Jason and Ana Robinson, the path to the Catholic Church has been a long and winding one, both geographically and spiritually.
Ana was born in Mexico and raised in a conservative Presbyterian family, where her mother was the spiritual leader in the home.
Jason was born in New Westminster, British Columbia, a suburb of Vancouver.
He lived with his father after his parents divorced. Unlike Ana, he had no religious
training or upbringing. “As a teenager, I was hostile to any sort of belief in a God. My heart was hard.”
That changed when he began dating a girl whose parents hosted a worship gathering in their home one evening. During that meeting, he experienced God in a mystical, almost indescribable way. “It was a supernatural event that penetrated my heart rather than learning or studying my way to faith. That would come later.” Later, when reading for the first time the Apostle Paul’s Damascus Road experience, Jason “felt like I was reading my own story.” Sometime after his conversion, he began attending a Baptist church and was baptized.
In 2002, Ana immigrated to Vancouver, where she met Jason in 2005. They married in 2008. Ana worked as an accountant, while Jason pursued work in the film industry as a 3D animator. They attended nondenominational megachurches in Vancouver. In 2013, they moved to Los Angeles, where they attended a Baptist church in Burbank. Seeking a friendlier environment for themselves and their three daughters, Amber, Emily and Abigail, they moved to Boise in 2022. A son, James, was born that same year.
Like many who are drawn to the Catholic Church, Jason and Ana were not on parallel spiritual paths initially.
Jason’s vocation, working from home as a 3D animator for Disney, afforded him the opportunity to study for long periods of time during the day, where he discovered the variety of traditions within Protestantism. As he did, he became increasingly uncomfortable with teachings that were often contradictory, but which claimed the Bible as their authoritative source. His study of Church history led him to problems with two pillars of the Protestant Reformation: sola fide (salvation by faith alone), and sola scriptura, the teaching that the Bible alone functions as the sole authority for faith and practice.
In addition, Jason encountered problems with the teachings of some Protestants, particularly Calvinists, that once you are saved, you are always saved. “Eternal security,” means there is nothing one can do to lose salvation. “My reading of scripture convinced me that salvation can be lost, in spite of the teaching of a former pastor who strongly preached otherwise,” Jason said.
The Church Fathers also played an important role in his journey. “In my search for the truth, the Fathers led me away from believing that the Catholic Church was the evil empire to believing that it is the Church Christ founded.”
At the end of each day, Jason enthusiastically shared with Ana all that he was learning, but Ana was more reticent to embrace the Catholic faith.
“My experience growing up in Mexico led me to believe that Catholics tied salvation to man-made rituals and that they worshiped Mary and the saints,” she said. Her misconceptions about the Church’s teaching regarding the Blessed Mother were barriers that initially made opening her heart to the truth of Catholicism difficult.
In spite of these reservations, two experiences helped her to open the door to the Catholic Church.
On the one hand, she was troubled by that same “once-saved, always-saved” teaching that troubled Jason. On the other hand, she notes, “I was concerned that worship and the celebration of Holy Communion in the churches we were attending lacked reverence.” These experiences – coupled with her desire to be in tune with the historic Church – gradually led her to become more open to what Jason was learning about Catholicism.
During this process, the faith community at Risen Christ Parish in southwest Boise played a critical role in both of their conversions.
“I looked up Catholic Churches near us and found Risen Christ,” Jason said. “I checked out their website to see who to contact to become Catholic, which was Deacon Ted (Vermaas) and his wife, Ludee. They have been instrumental in leading us through OCIA (Order of Christian Initiation of Adults) and have been such a huge part in making Risen Christ home to us.”
“From the moment our family began attending, we were welcomed and intentionally incorporated into the worship and social life of the parish. Risen Christ has helped our whole family to grow in our faith.”
Jason and Ana are enjoying the blessings of their newfound Catholic faith. Both have found the Sacrament of Reconciliation to be a source of grace and healing. The joy they find in receiving the Eucharist is also a gift. Ana is also pleased at how the children are acclimating to parish life and growing in faith.
The Vigil Mass during which they were received into the Church will forever be etched into their memories.
“Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to have strong emotions about it all, but when the night came, I was absolutely elated,” Jason said. “It felt so good to see all our family come into the Church together and to have our three younger ones baptized at the Easter Vigil. It also was really special to have done it with all the OCIA members of our class. We really felt a camaraderie with them, having gone through it all together and preparing for that moment.”
For Ana, receiving the Eucharist was a high-light. “To finally receive the Body and Blood of Christ really felt like we are now united with the Church. It has really helped us grow spiritually, producing good fruit in our family.”
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