One of the people most surprised by Alice LaCour’s decision to become a Catholic is Alice LaCour herself.
The 30-year-old lawyer, who said she was raised “Protestant, but not any particular denomination,” said there was a time when she was not interested in Catholicism even though her future husband, Eddie, had returned to practicing his Catholic faith.
Eddie LaCour was baptized a Catholic, but raised as a Protestant. He decided to return to the Church after his father had a similar conversion and returned to the Catholic faith.
LaCour said she was initially surprised by Eddie’s decision because “we actually met at a Bible study.” The couple also led a Protestant Bible study group.
“I was very resistant at first. I did not want to have anything to do with the Church. I just had no interest,” she said.
LaCour said her reluctance to learn more about the Catholic faith came from her belief that “I already had a relationship with God, and I thought I did not need a big structure (like the Catholic Church) to point me to God.”
“I never really encountered Catholics who practiced their faith,” she said. “I thought Catholicism was like Judaism – it was more of a cultural identity” for many people.
Her perception slowly started to change when she and Eddie moved to Washington, D.C. “Here, I met young people like me, but who were in love with the Church and their faith,” she said. “I didn’t know anyone like that before.”
She added that the loss of her firstborn son – who was stillborn – also contributed to the start of her spiritual quest.
“That just turned my life upside down in a lot of ways and forced me to look at what I believed,” she said. “I sought spiritual counseling even though I was still somewhat standoffish and critical of what I though the Church taught.”
Her journey led her to the Catholic Information Center in Washington where she met Father Arne Panula, the director of the CIC. Meeting the priest, she added, “was my first step to not being completely hostile” toward the Catholic faith.
“We talked through the questions I had, things I didn’t understand,” she said.
LaCour was also selected to participate in the CIC’s Leonine Forum. Participants in the forum spend a year studying the intellectual and spiritual dimensions of the Catholic faith and Catholic social teaching.
“I found this intellectually stimulating,” she said. “We learned about Catholic teaching and how it applies to the social issues of today. Since I learned what the Church actually taught, I found that there was a lot that I actually already agreed with.”
During her study, Eddie “was wonderful and patient,” LcCour said. “He never pushed me, but encouraged me. It (returning to the Church) clearly changed his life. He was such an example to follow.”
LaCour said she enjoyed the study because, “I got a deeper understanding of the roots of the faith. It was exciting to dig back into the roots of things and understand where my faith comes from and how to live every day more like Christ.”
Through her studies, she added, she also learned that “I had a misperception that the Catholic Church was very sterile and not a very loving place, and now I realize and understand the depth of the Church, and I appreciate how beautiful and loving the Church really is.”
“The hardest thing for me to grasp was that I never considered that the Catholic Church might be right,” she added. “But, this is truth here and I cannot keep denying it. I feels great not to deny it anymore.”
With her husband looking on, Alice LaCour will become a Catholic during the Easter Vigil at Immaculate Conception Parish in Washington.
“I came from a skeptical place and now I couldn’t be happier. I’m glad I looked,” she said.