The Conversion of Sister Wilma Marie, R.S.M.
As a Roman Catholic, entering the convent was my way to serve God. Raised by wonderful parents, I wanted to put God first in my life. So in 1967, I joined the Sisters of Mercy of the Union.
Over the next four years, I experienced love and guidance. There was also disunity in the convent. We were supposed to be serving God together. But we were so busy “serving the Lord,” we didn’t have time to spend with God or each other. I felt spiritually empty and increasingly uncertain of my calling and faith.
I began to question the sacraments. From the Bible I knew that “there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). Despite this truth, I was confessing my sins to a man. I had sinned against God. He should be my confessor.
The Eucharist was an even greater problem. In Hebrews 10:10 it says, “…we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Christ offered His body and blood once and for all time. It was a perfect sacrifice.
The Catholic Church teaches that every Mass is an offering for sin. At the consecration, the priest prays, “…let it (the bread and wine) become for us, the body and blood of Jesus Christ, Your only Son, our Lord.” With those words, we were taught the bread and wine turn into Christ’s body and blood. Then the priest offers Christ upon the altar as a continuation of the sacrifice of the cross.
The more I studied the Bible the greater my doubts grew. Hebrews 10:14 clearly states, “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”
Christ cried out as He died, “It is finished” (John 19:30). I could see the bread and wine as symbols, but the Church did not allow this option.
In 1973, I entered a hospital for minor surgery. There I began a friendship with another patient who was a Christian. She invited me to visit her home the next week, and we began to meet regularly to discuss spiritual things.
From our talks I learned that no one can get to heaven by good works. Up to this time I thought that if I tried to do good, went to confession when I was bad, and received communion as often as possible, I would go to heaven. But she showed me that the Bible says, “…all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment…” (Isa. 64:6). It says in the New Testament, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). Salvation from hell is not by good works but through faith in Jesus Christ as one’s personal Savior.
She introduced me to her pastor. He explained to me how serious my sins were before God – serious enough to put me in hell! I had always thought that only extremely wicked people would be condemned.
He also showed me how to be forgiven. From the Bible, he explained that salvation is by trusting in Christ. I learned that in St. John’s Gospel alone the word “believe” is used 97 different times.
I came to realize that I was a sinner simply by being born into this world. There is no baptism that can wash away my sin. Only faith in Christ as my personal Savior could do that. I received Christ and the blessed assurance of going to heaven when I die.
Since that day, Christ has changed my life. I have peace and a firm faith. I left the Catholic Church, because I could no longer live by the traditions of men. Only God’s Word holds the answers for life.
Seek Christ. He is the only One who can save. Open your heart to Him.
Wilma Sullivan now serves Christ in evangelism and ministry to women.