When I arrived to teach at Hillsdale College in 1996, there was, even in those days, a good bit of chatter on campus concerning students leaving Protestantism in favor of Catholicism or Orthodoxy. Students would often arrive at my office door with questions about the early Christians. Some would then disappear, often for several months, only to reappear with the shocking announcement that they had entered into the Catholic faith.
In those days, I had a sneaking suspicion that these young men and women had been instructed to cut off communication with Protestant professors, friends, and even family.
Having now been called into the Catholic Church, I see how wrong I had been.
It took 30 years for me to heed the call (a story I am willing to share some other time) and when I did so, I was in need of serious reading, reflection, prayer, and guidance. My patient wife and family, as well as many remarkable friends, helped me along in this process. And most everything I thought I knew about Catholicism was challenged or changed.
Like those students who disappeared, I found myself in need of silence, in need of separation. There was no blind acceptance of doctrine. There was no hard-fisted demand of obedience. But there was a wrestling bout that had to be waged.
I entered into the wilderness in a manner vaguely similar to St. Paul’s before he met Cephas in Jerusalem. And it was during my own time incommunicado that I realized what had happened in the lives of those students who had disappeared.
Today, I am grateful for colleagues and friends who have expressed their concerns. My response to them is always that my family and I have never been more full of a love for Christ than we are now.
Kenneth Calvert is a professor of history at Hillsdale College.