-by Kim Coulter, Kim Coulter and her husband, Dan, have nine children. She has been Catholic for 42 years. Kim and Dan are members of the Holy Family Institute, which is a secular institute for the consecration of married life, to advance the Gospel through social media, for the conversion of the world. The institute was established by Blessed James Alberione, who is also the founder of the Society of Saint Paul.
“I can hardly believe that I have been Catholic for 42 years! It is easy for me to remember when I became Catholic, because I did it just months before I was married. But to be more specific, I have become more and more Catholic through gradual and ongoing conversion.
I have always wondered if there aren’t more folks like me, who needed a continual touch of grace in their lives over a longer period of time in order to become truly Catholic. My story is a journey that I am still on today. God willing, I will continue on it until the day I die and meet my Jesus face to face.
I was the second child of four, born into a strongly religious United Methodist family. At one time, my father had considered becoming a minister. Instead, he skipped college for marriage and family life. My father was a telephone repairman, and my mother was a stay-at-home mom. I had a good childhood until my high school years. Then my world fell apart.
My mom went to work part time at a department store. She became very disconnected with family life, even missing one of my birthdays completely — no cake or presents, not even a remembrance. We came to learn that she was interested in life outside of her marriage. My parents experienced extreme marital problems that ended in their divorce when I was a senior in high school. It wasn’t an amicable divorce; it was bitter and divisive. I can remember police knocking on our door during one of my parents’ fights. I also remember my father following my mom to see where she went after work. This seemed to me to be outside of all that was normal. Where was God? Hadn’t we gone to church every Sunday? Didn’t He love us?
I had always believed in God; I loved Jesus. I even escaped from the chaos of those years by becoming a camp counselor at a Methodist summer camp. But I could not escape the feeling of being abandoned by my parents and the deep pain of wondering why God didn’t intervene. I prayed constantly for God to fix my parents, especially my mom. It never happened. As a teen, I just couldn’t grasp that the Lord’s intervention has to be welcomed by the soul for His grace to be effective.
Growing up as a Methodist meant kind of picking and choosing what you could believe. Sounds kind of crazy, doesn’t it? I didn’t want to think about the devil when my parents were feuding. I even told someone at our church that I didn’t believe in the devil at all; the reply I received was that it was no problem if I didn’t believe. Even today, you can go to a Methodist church that is highly pro-life, while a second one down the street teaches that abortion can be OK in some circumstances. That wasn’t the way that John Wesley had outlined things from the beginning. Our perverse culture has influenced many churches in this manner.
One day, during my freshman year of college, a high school friend invited me to attend a Catholic retreat called Search. It was a weekend retreat that introduced Jesus as a friend to the participants, sort of Jesus 101. I attended that weekend retreat and loved it!
Later, I worked on a Search weekend as a team member. Eventually, I was asked as a non-Catholic to join the commission that ran the program. There were many non-Catholics making the retreat, and I was supposed to be their eyes and ears, looking out for their interests. I even met my future husband there. It was a wonderful two years of serving the Lord in a new way and avoiding what was happening to my parents and siblings.
I must mention that, as good as the Search program was, the secular culture had its malicious influence there, too. It was the 1970s, after all. Drugs, open sexual activity and relativism were all on the menu at my college campus. We assimilated “Jesus as our best friend” right into our sinful life. Here I was, a non-Catholic, attending many Catholic Masses. I had lots of priest friends, and I received Jesus in the Eucharist sacrilegiously many, many times. No, I didn’t believe in the Real Presence. It was the seventies, and they just gave Jesus to me anyway.”