Religious conversion is not as difficult or confusing as many people think. Or maybe I should say not as confusing or difficult as I thought. I was baptized Protestant when I was an infant, as you may or may not know the Protestant sect of Christianity derived around the 15th century, and was basically started as a way to protest some of the practices of the Catholic Church. This is an extremely simplified explanation, but should anyone have more interest in the beginnings of Protestantism Wikipedia has the whole story.
I am currently undergoing the conversion process to become Catholic. The main reason being I got married nearly a year ago to a woman from South America, and Catholicism in her country is extremely predominant. So in order to appease the masses (no pun intended) I have undergone the necessary steps to become a full fledge Catholic.
For me this decision was not that difficult I started by doing some basic research on the differences between the two religions, and I found that due to the fact that Protestantism derived from Catholicism there really aren’t that many differences. The biggest difference is in the confession process, as a protestant I had never confessed, or had I? There were many times growing up when if something was troubling me I would speak to the Pastor of the church, albeit not in a confessional booth but in a more relaxed setting.
Often times his advice would be to pray for God to help me find the answer. In retrospect I look at that as a similarity. So after doing this research and finding out that Catholicism and Protestantism are so similar, it was a very easy decision for me to make.
So the first step was to attend Mass, I would recommend attending three or four masses at three or four churches, to find the one that “feels right”. In my case I live in a fairly rural area so there was no such option for me. However regardless of conversion status, or religious choice, it is a spiritual journey, and as with any journey, the longer it is the more comfortable the shoes should be so to speak.
Once I had attended two weekly masses I contacted the church office and expressed my desire to convert. Which brought me to the meetings; I attend meetings currently just to learn more about the religion and the roots of Catholicism through the eyes of the church. It is also a crucial step to determine that I am committed to the process. I regularly attend mass every week and I have a meeting with a deacon or deaconess, other parishioners once a week as well.
In one more weeks I will begin the Pre-Catechumen ate, this is the first stage to the four stage process. This will all cultivate with me becoming confirmed. I can say for any of those thinking of converting, it is truly an enlightening experience, and I know that other religions have different processes or ceremonies but no matter what you will learn about yourself. There is no certain timeline, rather self paced based upon your individual needs and feelings.
Religious conversion is not to be done lightly, it is a serious matter, and I do not promote one religion over another. Although I have only spoken about two religions, I believe whatever religion you do (or not) practice, should make you feel better about yourself, and your God.
Read also Recent Studies in Religious Conversion