Jewish Convert

Myron Moskowitz

Myron is a convert from Judaism. Becoming Catholic has been one of Myron's greatest joys in life. Myron is in his last semester of formation for the Permanent Diaconate preparing for Ordination in June. He was blessed to recently visit the Holy Land which helped prepare him even more for Ordination.

When I first received an inquiry asking if I would like to submit my conversion story I thought, “Sure”.  For me, answering why I am Catholic is a no-brainer; I read the New Testament and saw the Truth, the Light, and the Way.  The journey that led to reading the New Testament for the first time at age forty-eight was nothing short of incredible. 

I was born in the Bronx, New York to Jewish parents. My father's father and brother were Rabbis. Due to personal problems that plagued my parents my spiritual life basically consisted of attending services on the Jewish High Holy days, and that was only because the services were held in my uncle's synagogue.

In short, my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood were a mess. I didn't care about school; I lacked respect for my teachers and others. I wasn't a bad person.  I didn't go out of my way to be disrespectful.  It was just that with the exception of my friends and relatives I didn't care for people very much. 
Somehow I made it through high school.  As a matter of fact, there was only one thing that really stood out from my first twelve years of education. It was something my eighth-grade teacher said in class one day. I had absolutely no reason to remember what he said, especially since it had no bearing on my life whatsoever. (That will come later).

My high school grades reflected my lack of effort in succeeding. That in turn limited my choice of colleges that could accept me. I was accepted at New Mexico State University. I will explain later the significance of this destination.

A few medical setbacks and more effort put into my studies eventually had me graduating from Lehman College which is a branch of City College of New York. I majored in Physical Education/Health. While at Lehman I met my children’s mother and after graduation we were married. The marriage ended after 17 years but I’m blessed with two wonderful children; a son and a daughter. I never had the opportunity to teach after graduating from Lehman and drifted into real estate property management. One promotion led to another and a switch in employers eventually led to being assigned as the manager of one of the most prestigious apartment buildings in New York City. 
I discovered that the diverse staff, the employees at the main office and the tenants who lived in the building could be the basis for a great sitcom. I wrote an outline and soon the writing bug bit me very hard. I began writing screenplays and was obsessed with it. I had this “vision” of becoming a big-time Hollywood screenwriter.

Keep in mind that at this time in my life even though I did believe there was a God, there was absolutely nothing happening in my life to demonstrate that I was a person of faith.  The best way for me to describe my religious life is to say that rigor mortis had set in. To this day I am still haunted that I once took God’s name in vain in a very serious way.

In 1987, I took a chance and became a private consultant in a special area of real estate management. It turned out to be a bad career move but ultimately a life (soul) saving move. My screenwriting passion was still burning inside me. In 1990 I married Mary, a cradle Catholic. I am going to fast forward to1998. I am now in my third job as a shipping supervisor (not exactly goal oriented positions) but something to help pay the bills, (barely) and still trying to market my screenplays.

My frustration level at not being able to sell a screenplay was at an all-time high. One night I complained to Mary, “Why do I have a God given talent if I can't sell anything?" Mary said, “Maybe He doesn’t like what you’re writing,” I was writing mostly crime drama. I asked Mary, who, “He” is, and she said, “Jesus Christ”. I reminded her that my name is Myron Moskowitz and that Jesus Christ had no bearing on my life. A few weeks later I was in another of my self-pity moods and again asked the question, “Why can't I sell anything?” This time Mary responded, “If you are going to sell anything it will be when He thinks the time is right, not you.” I must interject that this beautiful wife of mine is a pretty smart cookie. I asked her if she was referring to the same “He” as a few weeks ago. She answered “yes” and I said, “I’m the same Moskowitz.”

About a month later I said to Mary that there had to be more to life than work, a paycheck, paying bills, etc. Mary said there is and suggested that I read the Bible. I asked her, “yours or mine?” At this point I have to note that at the time I was a major ego maniac. I prided myself on having read a grand total of two books in a twenty-five-year period!  My rationale was why read something by an author who isn't as good a writer as I am. To cut to the chase, within a period of six days, I read the Bible in its entirety skimming through Numbers and Deuteronomy which seemed too much like being in school.

When I was finished reading the Bible, Mary asked me what I thought .I told her that I thought unless this was the greatest hoax perpetrated in the history of the world, you sort of had to believe. I added though that if Jesus is God, and the Father is God and Jesus died, rose from the dead and ascended to heaven and is now seated at the right hand of the Father, then Jesus was sitting next to himself. Mary explained to me that this is the Christian belief in the Trinity. One God, but three persons.  Three?  It was then that I learned of the Holy Spirit. This just wasn’t coming together for me and I could not understand the Trinity.  Keeping to her word Mary did not pressure me about the issue.

About a month later it was around midnight and I turned to Mary in bed and asked her what she wanted. Mary said that she didn’t want anything other than to go back to sleep. I insisted that she wanted something. She told me that she had no idea what I was talking about.  I told her that she clearly wanted something and asked her, "Didn't you just tap me on the shoulder?" She said,”no". It was then that I told her I was just tapped on the shoulder, THREE TIMES! She sat up and said, “How many times?” I repeated, “THREE TIMES”. She then said, “And what have you been struggling with?” We looked into each other's eyes, and I responded, "The Trinity". It was then I asked her where I could attend RCIA classes.

I received the Sacraments of Christian Initiation at the Easter Vigil on April 3, 1999. Shortly thereafter I became a team member of the parish RCIA and an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. I was “on fire”. So much so that people even asked me if I had thought about becoming a Permanent Deacon. I considered the prospect but dismissed it because I learned that I could not apply until I had been a Catholic for at least five years.

One day after hearing Fr.Corapi speak at a retreat my life took another dramatic turn.  I realized that I had to do more with my life. After much prayer I felt I was being called to teach high school students about God. In order to do that I would need to earn at least 18 credits towards the 24 credits requirement to begin teaching theology in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s secondary school system. I accomplished that in a period of nine months at St .Charles Borromeo Seminary. I was on my way so I thought with one exception. I forgot that my plans are not always God's plans. There were no positions available for new theology teachers that fall. You guessed it; I was hired to teach, Health/Physical Education. It eventually became apparent to me that I was actually able to discuss God in greater depth in this informal setting with the students then would have been possible in a theology classroom. Our talks actually seemed to have an impact on them. Finally, my screenwriting experience was paying dividends in another way; it helped me get the message across in an unexpected setting.

I have told “my story” to numerous parish groups; including an appearance on EWTN’s The Journey Home with Marcus Grodi. I always say to my audience that I would be remiss if I didn't tell them what one of the professors at the Seminary taught us. Fr.Hunt would talk about the True Presence and said if you read the footnotes for John: 6:54, it reads, “this is not the classical Greek form of the word to "eat" but it refers to munching and gnawing”. You clearly cannot munch or gnaw on a symbol which brings me to a very special occurrence. 

On October 10, 2001 I was in the Adoration Chapel of my home parish (St. Ignatius of Antioch in Yardley PA. It was 2:20 AM and I was the only person in the chapel. I closed my eyes for around twenty seconds without falling asleep. When I opened my eyes there in front of the monstrance was Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He appeared in profile, wearing a long white garment with a red robe on top. On the bottom right hand side of the red robe was the Greek symbol for Christ (the Chi Rho). Jesus appeared to be 6’1” tall with shoulder-length hair. He took several steps and vanished.

Whenever I tell my conversion story I always make sure to include this because I firmly believe Jesus knows that I can never tell my story again and leave this out. His appearance to me in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I believe, was to tell others that He is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament.

Now I am going to fast forward to January 25, 2004. After mass, Mary turned to me and asked if anything different had happened at mass. I told her I had the feeling that I should be proclaiming the Gospel. Mary said the reason she was asking me that question was because during mass as the deacon was receiving the blessing from the celebrant before proclaiming the Gospel Mary heard, “That should be Myron on the altar proclaiming the Gospel”.  If ever a call was clear this was it. We were so excited about my applying to the Permanent Diaconate. We couldn’t wait to tell the Deacon at our parish. We relayed the story to him and his response was, “It’s about time because I have been praying for nine months for you to respond to the call”. When I asked him why he felt compelled to pray for me he responded that the Holy Spirit asked him to pray for me.

Currently I am two days away from taking my oral comprehensive exam; the written comprehensive was completed five days ago.  If all goes well, I will receive the call to Diaconate Ordination for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in about two months preparing me for ordination on June 4, 2011.
Now getting back to my eight grade class. What I remembered was the phrase “In Hoc Signo Vinces (in this sign you will conquer). New Mexico State University where I began my undergraduate studies is located in Las Cruces (the crosses). and, “coincidentally” the Chi Rho cross which I saw on Jesus’ robe is the “warrior cross”. Constantine saw in a vision the Chi Rho symbol along with the words, by this sign you will conquer.

As for my aspirations to become a successful screenwriter, I am so thankful to God that I was never able to sell any screenplays. My life would have gone in a totally different direction and I would not be where I am today. These days as an installed Acolyte Mary tells me that I am at peace and happy when on the altar. I am.

God had a plan for me and He does for all of us; all we to do is open ourselves up to do His will. 

As for Mary, without her love and prayers, I would never be where I am today.

May God bless you all,
Myron Moskowitz

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