This Kind of Christian
by Peter Robinson
Mine has been a long journey to become a member of St. Patrick’s Parish, and briefly it goes like this: my childhood was spent near Bancroft, ON, just south of Algonquin Park. My father was an Evangelical pastor, and on a warm June evening at our kitchen table in 1964, I made a clear decision to follow Jesus at the age of six. Years later, to my surprise, I traced my father’s footsteps and became an Evangelical pastor myself. Following seminary in Toronto, in the 1990s I joined a mission organization to assist several Evangelical churches in Europe, from ministering to Iranian refugees in Vienna to pastoral work with a small congregation in the inner city of Paris. My life changing moment was in 1996, when I met my wife, Simone in Linz, Austria. We married at a castle in the Alps in 2000 (true story!), and returned to Canada in 2003 with our daughter, Victoria (then two). While pastoring in Evangelical churches here in ON, I also earned a PhD in theology (biblical studies) at St. Paul University in Ottawa.
It was in Ottawa that we joined the Anglican Church in North America, and I became a priest in 2012. Being an Anglican priest brought me much joy in my spiritual journey, and I assumed it was the final step in my pastoral career. To my great surprise, it proved to be just the beginning and not the end.
It was two or three days after Christmas 2013, while lying on our living room couch and reading George Weigel’s Evangelical Catholicism, that a simple thought dropped into my mind: “Peter, how would you like to become this kind of Christian?” I was taken completely by surprise, as though a snow flake drifting down from heaven had landed on my forehead. Over the next year, however, that little seed continued to grow in my thinking, to the point where I began to share it with Simone. She was shocked, too, for it meant leaving our financial and relational security. Was I taking leave of my senses?
To her credit, she began to pray (perhaps more in panic than discernment), as did I; and, ever so gently, the Lord continued to invite me deeper into liturgical and sacramental worship. Though I was experiencing a taste of such in Anglicanism, I longed for more, and soon realized that its fullness was to be found only in the Catholic Church. For well over a year, Simone and I continued to test this call, till we reached a point where we had to act. That was when I resigned as rector of the small Anglican church I was serving, and surrendered my ministerial license.
Since then, my conviction has only deepened that our Lord did indeed entrust his Church to St. Peter and his successors, the Bishops of Rome. Doors then opened quickly and effortlessly. I converted, and Simone reconverted, to the Church at the close of August, 2015. Just a week later, I began as Pastoral Associate at St. Patrick’s. My continuing desire over the coming years, if I’m hearing God rightly, is to keep moving toward ordination as a transitional deacon and then as a Catholic priest. So, as Pope Francis loves to say, “Pray for me!”