Former Protestant minister embraces the truth of the Catholic Church

Recent convert Steve Dow and his wife, Amanda, pose for a photo with Deacon M.J. Kersenbrock, left, and Father Bernard Starman after the Easter Vigil April 16, 2022 at St. Patrick Church in O’Neill, Nebraska.Recent convert Steve Dow and his wife, Amanda, pose for a photo with Deacon M.J. Kersenbrock, left, and Father Bernard Starman after the Easter Vigil April 16, 2022 at St. Patrick Church in O’Neill, Nebraska. | Courtesy of the Dow family

What would drive a Protestant minister to give up his ministry, to wander in spiritual darkness for a time and eventually follow God’s call in a new direction?

For Steve Dow, it was the truths of the Catholic faith that, despite his best efforts, he ultimately couldn’t ignore.

Eventually stepping out in faith and trust in the Lord, he responded to God’s call and was finally welcomed into the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil, April 16 at St. Patrick Church in O’Neill, Nebraska.

“Like any non-Catholic, especially a minister, it’s a jump into the unknown,” said Father Ross Burkhalter, senior associate pastor of St. Patrick, who helped lead the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) classes Dow attended.

But Dow was willing to step away from the path he was on and explore with openness what the Church actually teaches, said Father Burkhalter, who also serves Nebraska parishes St. Joseph in Amelia, Sacred Heart in Boyd County, St. Boniface in Stuart and St. Joseph in Atkinson.

As a minister in the Wesleyan Church, which has historic ties to the Methodist Church, Dow’s journey to the Catholic faith began several years ago when he started viewing programs on EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network – a Catholic television network), mostly out of curiosity, he said.

“I started realizing that a lot of the things that I’ve heard about and thought were crazy (about the Catholic faith), there’s actually good reasons for some of the things these Catholics believe and practice, and I kind of felt drawn towards it.

“At the same time I’m thinking, ‘I’m a Protestant minister. If I pursue this direction, I lose my ministry. I lose my source of income. How will I provide for my family?’”

So, he had to shut out those influences, and in doing so, he said, “I was cutting myself off from God and the direction that he was leading me.”

“I found myself questioning everything, questioning my faith, questioning God’s existence. I’d become more of an atheist, so for integrity’s sake, I had to leave the ministry,” he said.

That was 2013, and for the next eight years, although sometimes dabbling in the teachings of various denominations and attending their services, Dow mostly lived in a state of spiritual darkness.

“I started feeling spiritually dead inside,” Dow said.

After leaving the ministry, Dow worked for a time with his father on the family farm near Orchard, Nebraska, and joined NorthStar Services in O’Neill, an agency providing support services to people with developmental disabilities.

But his wife, Amanda, herself a former Catholic, found the transition difficult.

The couple, who met and married during Bible college, had gone straight into ministry after graduation, Dow said.

“So that was kind of all we’d known,” he said. “It was very hard on her, very hard on our marriage. She continued to believe and continued to go to church some, but with me not going and supporting it, it was hard on her.”

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