June Mabry is an emergency physician of 35 years, now semi-retired, who teaches Church History at St Anthony of Padua Catholic Church. She converted to Catholicism in 2008, after studying in an Anglican seminary for 2 1/2 years. As a result of her experience in the Anglican world, and especially in the seminary, she fell in love with the history of the Church, especially the ancient Fathers, with Liturgy, including the glorious liturgical music of the Church; and with the whole idea of living in the communion of saints, the great cloud of witnesses of all time. Entering the Anglican seminary had been the consequence of a desire to understand the ancient Church Fathers, which in turn had been born of a 35 year intense search for "Truth."
That search had led her into an intense study of a number of religious traditions (not all of which were Christian), and through actual membership, successively, in Southern Baptist and Reformed Baptist congregations, the Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ, Mormonism, Judaism, and Presbyterianism, before arrival in the Anglican world just as many Anglican traditions were becoming unhinged from that faith.
All these traditions had offered portions of the Truth, expanding her mind and heart, but in turn posing new questions about the Christian Faith and the worship of the Triune God, demanding an ever deepening search for Truth. The beauty of Anglican liturgy and worship, as well as the piety of devout Anglicans, captivated her mind and heart. Her Anglican parish was rather traditional, and untroubled by the great moral crises that were shaking the Anglican world at the time. She loved that parish, and it became home for her family very quickly. As she fell in love with the Church, the ancient Fathers, and the great saints, it was only a matter of time before the desire to enter the seminary to become a teacher of Church History, became irresistible. Along the way, she discovered the writings of a certain convert from Anglicanism, John Henry Newman, and those of one Joseph Ratzinger, who had recently been elected Pope Benedict XVI. They would be key figures in the next steps of her spiritual journey.
Transfixed by the things she was learning, she began to read more deeply, and soon the ancient catholic faith, which answered the greatest longings of her heart and mind and soul, began to come fully alive for this travel-worn pilgrim. For the first time in her life, she beheld with her spiritual eyes, the Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. His Beauty took her breath away, and she began to fall in love with Him and with His ancient Church. The worship of the Triune God, and especially of the God-man Jesus Christ, became a delight beyond all telling, and fellowship in the communion of saints and with Mother Mary, became an inexpressible joy.
Though she enjoyed all of her classes in the seminary, she was happiest when studying Church History, and the ancient apostles and saints became dear friends. Through her teachers, she fell completely in love with the ancient catholic (notice the small "c") faith. However, as the classes moved past the patristic period and into the Medieval and later eras, she became aware of an increasing discomfort in the Anglican world that she had learned to love, and sadly, also discovered that many in that world were becoming increasingly uncomfortable with her, and her unrelenting search for Truth!
Nevertheless, her heart found itself desiring to be fully united with this One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Where was it today? Was the Anglican world that she had learned to love not where she needed to be? The thought made her very sad.
Resolutely, her search continued, and at the hand of Pope Benedict through his writings, she slowly began to realize that this ancient Church with which she had fallen in love, was none other than the Catholic Church, which had never ceased to proclaim the ancient Faith, throughout all eras. Having been raised in a largely anti-Catholic environment, this was an extremely disconcerting discovery. What to do?
With the Anglican world unravelling at the seams, it was inevitable that eventually her conversion to the "c"atholic faith led to conversion to the "C"atholic faith (with the help of her great spiritual father, Pope Benedict), and she was received into full communion with the Catholic Church at St Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in The Woodlands, Texas at the Easter Vigil of 2009. Her epic journey had reached its final destination, as she realized that the Catholic Church would not be just another "home along the way," but was the Home prepared by the Father as answer to all longings, all desires. She recognized that although God allows humans to run his Church, and so there will always be "warts" and frailties as the result of human weakness, nevertheless, the foundation of this Church, laid by the Lord Jesus Christ himself, is still firm and intact after 2000 years, in spite of all human failings.
This class actually began as an assignment in the Anglican seminary. The idea was to develop a class that would reach out to laity who desired deeper knowledge and greater fellowship in the Church. It was also an opportunity for seminarians to teach, sort of a "student teacher" approach. It was quite successful in the Anglican fold, and when June converted to Catholicism, she was asked to bring the course with her into the Catholic world. She thought it would be easy to do. After all, she already had the power-points, handouts, timelines, and other teaching aids prepared. A few tweaks, and the course would be fully Catholic, she thought.
Alas! In the end, she discovered that every slide in every PowerPoint, every handout, every lecture and discussion had to be completely rediscovered afresh, and allowed to take on a truly Catholic flavor that represented the continuity of the Faith throughout all ages. Kindly, the Lord revealed very slowly just how much needed to be done, in order to properly tell the 2000 year story of the epic journey on which Jesus Christ has been taking His Bride. Had she known how much work would be required to accomplish this, perhaps she would never have had the courage to begin. Over time, she began to sympathize with St Paul, in response to the words of the Lord to Ananias when he questioned the sincerity of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus: "I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake!" But such an exhilarating story, full of action, and drama; it became her great passion to tell it over and over again!
June has been teaching Church History now for 11 years; this is the 8th year here at St Anthony of Padua. Her great desire is to encourage others to embrace the joy of falling in love with the Lord Jesus Christ, to fully embrace the Worship of the Ever living God, the Beauty of the Catholic Faith, and the Fellowship of the Communion of Saints. She teaches Church History classes, and leads pilgrimage retreats to Church History sites, to share with others the loving word of the Lord to us through the pages of time, which is, after all, the glorious History of the Church.