Megan and Isaac Kreft pose after his entry into the Catholic Church in 2016 at Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Lake Oswego. (Courtesy Megan and Isaac Kreft)
Megan and Isaac Kreft pose after his entry into the Catholic Church in 2016 at Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Lake Oswego. (Courtesy Megan and Isaac Kreft)
" My advice: question assumptions, never stop looking for truth, don’t settle for anything less than the truth that comes from God.  "
LAKE OSWEGO — My journey into the Catholic Church was long — my whole life so far.

I was raised Lutheran. My parents love God and taught me to love God and seek to be closer to him. They always taught me to steep myself in Scripture and to find answers to questions I would run into about the faith. Along with the Lutheran upbringing was a staunch abhorrence to everything Catholic, which we saw as a medieval corruption of the true church. My family didn’t hate Catholics; we just saw them as faithful Christians who had been led into error and idolatry.

The impetus for my exploring the Catholic faith was my college experience. I went to the University of Portland. It was close to home, had a decent engineering program and was a Christian university. I could deal with the Catholic bits.

It was there that I got to meet real flesh and blood Catholics, all kinds of them. Some of the most influential to me include Megan, my future wife, and Holy Cross Father Charlie McCoy, the dormitory priest who invited me to my first Mass and who would years later officiate my wedding.

Additionally formative to my faith journey were many Catholics who actually practiced something more akin to pluralistic relativism, didn’t really know what they believed, or just saw themselves as cultural Catholics. At first I tried to proselytize them by showing how we are saved by faith alone or that Catholics believe doctrines of men instead of the doctrines of God. But, I often found myself the third party to discussions between Catholics and evangelicals or Catholics and atheists. In these discussions, I frequently weighed in, most often supporting the Catholic viewpoint, but sometimes even backing up the Catholics with their own church’s teaching. I realized the Catholic faith actually had some real substance and consistency. I found that very appealing, although threatening.

I started dating Megan the summer before our senior year. I still considered myself a staunch Lutheran, although I had drifted towards what I like to call “collegiate paganism.” Megan was an absolutely faithful Catholic who was definitely not about to leave the church but definitely not going to try to convert me. I consider it divine intervention that we got together then. Only God could have made that work like it did. I got to asking her how she could believe all this Catholic stuff, and she had so many great answers queued up for my probing questions. She invited me to Mass at St. Mary Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. We made a habit of going there together.

I really struggled with not being able to take Communion with Catholics. I felt like an outsider. I thought, “I believe it’s the real body and blood of Jesus. Why can’t I have it?” Priests including Father Charlie did a great job of explaining how the importance of being one communing church factors into this separation and how we ought to strive toward genuine unity.

I had never really considered that the denominational lines which separate Christians were such a big deal until I was living this life with the division playing such a part in it. It was painful to see such a disparity of communion between my church and Megan’s. Not to be dismayed, I started to examine ways we could work toward some kind of unity. I first looked at the ecumenical process between Lutherans and Catholics and saw that there were some good fruits there.

But I also found that the churches are fundamentally different. They disagree about very important things and they disagree about what things are important. They can’t just force unity to happen; they have to agree about the faith in order to have unity. These inevitable irreconcilabilities among Christians are what have fueled the centuries of the failed denominationalism experiment. Like so many Christians, I had a bit of a crisis. They can’t all be right, so are they all wrong? Is just one right? I figured there had to be a “true faith.” I just couldn’t tell what it was.

I desired orthodoxy. More than ever, I wanted to find the faith of the apostles. I had taken it for granted that the faith of my childhood was the true one.

I then made the worst mistake anyone trying to avoid the Catholic Church can make: I read primary and secondary sources of the church fathers to see what they believed. Low and behold, they were distinctly Catholic. Jesus’ church, headed by Peter, spread around the world by the apostles, carried through the centuries by their successors, was still alive and the gates of hell had indeed not prevailed against it.

It was upsetting that the church I grew up in was lacking so much. But my elation at finding the church, priesthood, sacraments, apostolic authority and the living teaching magisterium made it all worth it.

I decided to enter the Catholic Church. Although I didn’t have all my questions answered at this point, I had had enough to swim the Tiber with confidence that the other answers were out there. I am glad the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults was there along the way. It helped me tremendously to find more answers and build a solid catechetical foundation.

I came into the church at the Easter Vigil in 2016, receiving confirmation and first Communion. Since my conversion, my whole paradigm has shifted. All of my relationships have been transformed. I see myself as part of an enormous spiritual family. I see sanctification and conversion as ongoing lifelong processes. I recognize the communion of saints and the daily battle for souls. I can see so many of the obstacles that get in the way of Christian unity.

My advice: question assumptions, never stop looking for truth, don’t settle for anything less than the truth that comes from God.

Kreft is a member of Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Lake Oswego, where he serves on the pastoral council.