The World

"My path to the Catholic Church".

Gero Pischke recounts his conversion in a conversation with José M. García Pelegrín in Berlin, Germany.

Gero Pischke-January 2, 2022-Reading time: 3 minutes
conversion

Photo: Javier Allegue Barros / Unsplash

I was born in 1961; I grew up near Hannover. There, my mother joined the Seventh-day Adventists in the early 1960s. When my parents divorced, my mother moved to Denmark with my sister; my father and I headed for Berlin; I remember the atmosphere at school was brutal. No one cared about me; perhaps this is why I looked for a kind of surrogate parents among the Adventists. 

I received adult baptism in the fall of 1982. Every Sabbath we had an hour of prayer and an hour of Bible study, plus the reading of Adventist writings, Ellen Gould White and others. Later I joined a subgroup, the "Adventist Fellowship". Sabbath Rest", also called of the "Message for Our Time". But I soon realized that almost everything there revolved around money. Since - unlike the Catholic and Evangelical churches - they do not collect church tax, they have to collect donations. 

Something that had always caused me a big problem is that, with the regeneration they preach, I cannot get deliverance from sin. Of course God forgives sins, but how can I be sure? I also had no one with whom I could talk about these things. Besides, I was alone, because I was the only member of the sect in Berlin. Many things were forbidden to me, such as going to the cinema or eating out, alcohol, smoking... and I was also instructed to limit contact with "people of the world" as much as possible. At a certain point, from one second to the next, I broke with them. At first I dedicated myself - as they say - to enjoying life, to doing everything I had missed for decades.

The Benedict XVI's speech at the Bundestag in September 2011 made a deep impression on me. From then on I tried to read everything he said. Although for a few years I did not seem to make any progress, I felt more and more sympathy for the Catholic Church. In 2014, I set up my own business with a partner, in whom I initially had a lot of confidence. But a few months later, I realized that the product we were selling was not good, which led me almost to ruin. So I put an end to that freelance work.

By the end of 2014, I had hit rock bottom. I had been participating for some time in the meetings of a "smoking club"; but because I was so demoralized, I sent an email to excuse myself from attending on a certain occasion; however, the organizer phoned me and encouraged me to attend, because we were also talking about issues of a certain depth. I attended and thus met a member of the Catholic Church who, as I could see, was characterized by great spiritual depth. He turned out to be a member of the personal prelature Opus Dei. He soon invited me to attend a Holy Mass. I went with some expectation; in my youth, I had been led to see in the Catholic Church the "Antichrist".

I didn't understand much of the liturgyI was impressed from the very beginning. What I saw helped me to concentrate: Christ crucified, the Stations of the Cross and the Blessed Virgin Mary made me see that there was something special there, a closeness to God such as I had never experienced before. I was able to witness the administration of Holy Communion: on my knees and in my mouth. What a gesture of humility! I decided to buy a catechism book. I read it and went through it with the help of the two priests at the Opus Dei center for two years. Through conversations, participation in Holy Mass and praying the Rosary, I came to know the Catholic faith.

An enormous step was to know the sacrament of confession and therefore the certainty of forgiveness, as well as to be able to receive the body of Christ from an ordained priest. So many things were weighing on my mind and heart that I felt the urge to become a Catholic. So I received the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation in May 2019; since then I continue to develop spiritually. Shortly before that, I had already renounced some sins that I had been deeply rooted for decades and that I have not committed again.

I have felt God's blessing, unprecedented grace. "Where, death, is your victory, where is your sting?". I also prayed a lot to get a professional perspective, and my prayers were heard: little by little things started to improve after I changed the focus of my freelance activity at the end of 2014. I am so happy and content that I don't mind at all the accusations that certain media pour out about the Catholic Church. Everywhere there are sins, and I have known of worse things that others have committed; but the only one being persecuted is the Catholic Church. It hurts me, but it does not make me feel insecure that I have made the right decision.

The authorGero Pischke

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