LOGAN — Richard Sherlock will be received into the Catholic faith during the Easter Vigil April 7 at Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish in Logan.
"Before my RCIA journey began in September 2010, I had been to Mass several times, but nothing could have prepared me for my first Easter Vigil experience of coming into a dark chapel with candles in our hands. I realized in a way I never had before – Christ is the light of the world and we are his people.
"In my journey to Catholicism, I have, in some ways, been the last to know that this is where I truly belong," said Sherlock, a professor of philosophy at Utah State University. "Teaching and becoming a philosopher has helped me greatly. I was told if I became a philosopher, I could lose my faith. I didn’t lose my faith, I changed it. I left Mormonism and have since become a deeper, more intellectual, more spiritual and truer Christian than I had ever been."
Sherlock grew up in an atypical Mormon family. "My mother was semi-active and my father converted late in life," he said. "Neither my brother nor I went on missions; I did not think I could bear witness to Mormonism. My brother is now a rabbi, which leaves only my sister as a Mormon."
When Sherlock told his brother he was converting to Catholicism, he answered, "‘Rick, you haven’t believed in Mormonism in decades. When you were a graduate student at Harvard in the 1970s, you were essentially a Catholic theologian,’" Sherlock said, whose dissertation used the resources of Catholic moral theology. His Harvard roommate, who was from Notre Dame University, studied early Christian writers.
"We have been friends for 40 years," Sherlock said. "Twenty years ago he told me the way I talk and think I should be Catholic. I knew he was right, but life intervened. Other friends have told me they thought I was already a conservative Catholic when they heard I was converting."
Sherlock was a conscientious objector in the Vietnam War and has been an opponent of abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment his whole adult life, he said. "When I was a professor of Catholic moral theology at Fordham University in New York City in the mid-1980s, I happily defended the view that artificial birth control is morally wrong," he said.
While intellectually he reflected the Catholic faith, it wasn’t until 2010 that Sherlock had an experience in Rome that helped him convert his heart. "I saw Rome for the first time while attending a conference devoted to the work of Catholic phenomenologist and convert Dietrich von Hildebrand," he said. "I attended a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Raymond Burke. His homily was magnificent and my blessing felt like electricity going through my body. It was a feeling, but more, it was a grasp of truth; an illumination. I felt the same thing while meditating on the passion narrative in Luke in the chapel of the Huntsville Monastery."
Sherlock is a great example of how God works through the RCIA process, said Margaret Stephan, Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish adult formation/evangelization coordinator.
"Richard knew a lot about the Catholic faith, but he didn’t know what it meant to be Catholic," she said. "The RCIA team helped him see where God had been working in his life all those years. Through RCIA he has experienced the rites of the Church and has taken communion to the sick with me and done other ministry work. He is a part of the community and has experienced the Catholic way of life and has surrendered to God’s love."