Fallen Away Comes Home


Hello my brothers and sisters,

Before I start, let me again reiterate how happy I am to be a part of this list, every one here has encouraged me, it is a joy to be a part of the Catholic family growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I never thought I would be saying that. I grew up in a Catholic home, and gradually fell away, and before I returned to the Church I was sure that the Catholic Church was the only place I couldn't go.

My parents were divorced when I was three, so me, my mom and my brother moved in with my Grandparents. These were the best of times and the worst of times. The best of times because I never had it so good since, up until the time God blessed me with my wife and kids, the worst of times because when I remember back to my early childhood, the days "seemed" to be so dark, however the worst was yet to come. I remember going to church, being an altar boy, and my love for Jesus and Mary. But I also remember stealing and lying, I stole from the church, my parents and my neighbors. It always seemed that the world had so much and I had so little.

I didn't know my father too well until I was around twenty years old, when I did get to know him I found out that he had his problems too, He was a drug abuser, and I think, I know, He was sorry for not being the Father he really wanted to be, the Father he knew he should have been. My Father died of Cancer, and the night he died, before I left my final visit with Him, I read aloud the book of Galatians to him, he was unconscious and I wanted to try to save him before he died, He was a professed Catholic, and I was sure he was on his way to Hell, and I was sure that if any book in the Bible could open his spiritual eyes it would be Galatians. I'm sure He's been praying for me ever since.  :o)

I probably won't say much about his side of the family, most of my time was spent with my mother's side of the family. I will say though that they are very caring and have always been there for me, my mom and my brother. And my Grandmom is an exceptional woman, she has never said goodbye to me, it's always, bye bye for now. I LOVE HER!

While living with my Grandparents, my Pop-Pop and Nana (pronounced nanny) I never appreciated what I had. My Pop-Pop "seemed"  too stern, and I ran away from home three times. My Nana on the other hand was very special to me, she taught me respect for my neighbor no matter who they were, she taught me To love God with all my heart, though I let that love grow cold.

We moved out of my Grandparents home when I was twelve years old, this had my mom working more and spending less time at home. This was the time when my Love started to grow cold. I stopped going to church, and started on my road to the streets. My mom had a couple of bad relationships and this introduced some bad experiences.  Namely drugs and alcohol, fighting and abuse. I've seen my mother beaten by her boyfriends, and one in particular, if he wasn't beating my mother he was trying to have his way with me, he also had friends who had the same ideas as he did. I started hanging out with "the wrong crowd"  and from then on nothing mattered to me except getting high on whatever would take me there.

Between the ages of sixteen and eighteen the drugs and drinking got heavier and heavier, I was hating life and I tried to hate God, to the point that I tried to convince myself that there was no God. I didn't want to live, I didn't know how to live, it is only now that I am truly learning to enjoy this gift of life. My teen years, the most vivid in my memories, were filled with searching, searching for that something or someone that would give my life meaning, I was looking for LOVE. I dropped out of school, because I wanted to be on the street , I dropped out of the army because I wanted to be on the streets ( I faked not being able to pass the final physical fitness test in boot camp).

I was around nineteen when I left the army and I spent my time living here and there and going from job to job, if I wasn't in jail. I ended up back with my Nana, twice, The first time I left after I broke the trust she had in me. The second time was for good until I got married. Even though I broke my Nana's heart she forgave me, and took me in again.  

I was still drinking and doing drugs at this time, and still going from job to job, finally while working on one particular job, the lady who owned the house we were painting told me of a job opening at a local hospital, I applied and got the job, and I've been with the Hospital system since 1988. In 1989 I went to rehab, after receiving a Bible tract from a person who is now my brother in law. After reading this tract I knew that the life I was living couldn't continue, I knew I needed Jesus. While at rehab I tried to leave so I could end my life, I was losing hope. They sent me to the crisis center at the hospital, where I spent a week, and while there my Aunt, who is a very devout Catholic, came and told me that Jesus loved me, she was so convincing that the rest of my stay at the crisis center was filled with joy. The other patients kept asking me how to be as happy as I was, all I could say is it was Jesus.

I finished rehab and went back to work, I have been clean since (at least from drugs and alcohol).

I met my wife at work in 1990, and we were married that same year. In 1991 our first daughter was born, and it was during this time that my brother in law and a friend of his came over to explain the gospel to me, I would also talk to my brother in law at work about it, he is also a former Catholic, and we would go over how we were deprived of the gospel message while we were Catholic, and also reasons that the Catholic Church wasn't scriptural. I had a "born again experience" and I was spending my time watching TV ministers such as Kenneth Copeland and those who preached the same type of message as he did. I was still searching , searching for good teaching, searching for answers to my questions. I joined a (non-denominational?) church, I went a few times, but I felt worse after I left then I did before I went.

Before I came home to the Catholic Church  I was listening to more Reformed teachers, and I was starting to think differently. Along the way I read something about the Early Church Fathers, the first I had really heard of them, and it was the Martyrdom of Polycarp and Ignatius. I was awestruck, I had to know more about this early Church, these people that welcomed, taunted even, the flames and the wild beasts, all because they would not deny the Lord Jesus. All I was hearing about the early Church up until then was how it had strayed from what Jesus had taught . I started to read the writings of the Early Church Fathers and I started to see a unity that I had not seen before (because I wasn't looking in the right place) and again I was amazed. When I would hear preachers speak about the early Church they were always talking about how they wanted to get back to what the Apostles taught, and they put their thoughts into their understanding of the early Church.

Now, I find myself married with four kids, I want to raise my children in the Lord, I want to lead people to Jesus, but in doing this I knew one thing, I could not do this without the Church, a Church that I could trust my children to, a Church that I could, after telling someone of Christ, bring them to and stay here, be fed here. Almost two years ago I bought a computer and I was introduced to the world wide web, and I found chat rooms. One person I met was Catholic, and we would debate different meanings of several Scriptures, I listened to him but as I said above I knew the Catholic Church wasn't even an option. Then I ran into an Orthodox believer, I say it that way because he would not even associate himself with any of the Orthodox Church's. He would say that there were no Churches around that held the "Orthodox" faith. I was starting to see that Protestantism was wrong, and I was buying into his Orthodoxy.

During this time certain passages of Scripture kept nagging at me, mostly the ones pertaining to the Church's authority, the structure of the Church, namely the Church being built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, with Peter being the Rock strengthening his brothers, and also about the Real Presence in the Eucharist. I could also see that in the early Church they held to, and still do, a succession of Bishops. I was still communicating with my Catholic friend, who sent me a couple of books, one was Surprised by Truth, but I must say that I think I was surprised before I even started to read the book, and before I was even halfway through I was in touch with my parish asking what was necessary to come home to the Church.

I am home now, I have a long way to go in dealing with sin, and living a life worthy of our Lord. But I have a hope now that I never knew before, a joy that I cannot explain, and a faith that is immeasurable. I am not searching anymore, I am confident that the Lord established one Church, and I am confident that it is the Catholic Church.

Along the way I would always look back to the faith and love expressed by my Nana and Aunt, and I think now, why didn't I go back to the Catholic Church first, but I know that the Lord has forgiven me and He is welcoming me home everyday.

The personal things about me contained here are solely to show the Grace and Mercy of Jesus Christ, he has been my refuge, my only hope, and I thank and praise Him for leading me home. He truly is awesome.

God Bless you all, your brother,

Richard Froggatt

FroggRCatholic@aol.com


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