A Testimony from
a sister in the Lord, who has been an encouragement to myself
and others. Her inside knowledge of "Catholic
Concerns", puts her in a position of knowledge and
understanding the many issues surrounding Catholic belief.
Collins ~A Former Catholic Nun
Revised May 2002
joined the Roman Catholic Church because I was looking for
I entered the convent because I wanted to be close to
God and to serve Him with radical devotion.
But it wasn’t until after I left Catholicism that I
found the kind of relationship with God that I had been
looking for all along. You can read about it in my poems.
pastor and my father have both advised me not to give out
This biography is an attempt to share my heart and my
life within the framework of their advice.
started out as a “liberal” intellectual who was prejudiced
I had been taught to believe that Christians were
gullible people who were either stupid or uneducated.
I was basically an agnostic who didn’t know or care
whether God existed.
For me, the idea of God was irrelevant.
I looked to science, psychology, and politics to save
mankind from its problems.
my senior year in high school, I fell in love with a young man
who was a devout Catholic.
That was my first encounter with someone who strongly
believed in God.
I may have met Christians before that, but they
didn’t make their Christian beliefs known to me.
young man prayed.
He loved God.
He was a man of principle and integrity.
His life was guided by his religious beliefs.
He had hope.
He had a kind of compassion and respect for people that
I had not seen before.
There was something different about him.
I didn’t know what it was, but whatever it was, I
I figured that it had something to do with his
religion, so I started taking instruction in Catholicism.
The young man moved overseas and I didn’t see him
again, but I continued studying Catholicism.
my first year of college I majored in biology.
I also studied French and Latin.
I went to a local priest every week for instruction.
Under his direction, I studied many books including the
“Baltimore Catechism” and biographies of well known modern
This was in the days of the Latin Mass, before there
was a formal catechumen program.
When I returned home for the summer, I found another
priest to continue my instruction.
was unable to return to college the following year.
For several years I continued to study with that
priest, while working to earn money for college.
The priest gave me more books to study including a
series of booklets on Scripture.
(There was a booklet for each book of the Bible.
On each page, the top half of the page contained
Scripture and the bottom half contained a Catholic commentary
about those portions of Scripture.)
job was close to a Catholic Church, and I went to Mass during
I prayed for God to give me faith.
I was praying even though I wasn’t sure that God
My very first prayer was, “God, if You’re out
there, show me.”
I didn’t take communion because I wasn’t a
I only said as much of the Apostles Creed as I actually
It was a long time before I could even say the opening
phrase, “I believe in God”.
several years I was baptized a Roman Catholic.
Soon afterwards, my brother also became a Catholic.
His instruction was through group classes.
I attended those classes with him.
I was hungry to learn anything that I could about God.
went to a Catholic college and majored in Religious Education.
My classes on Scripture taught a lot of modern
“higher criticism,” and some of my Religious Education
teachers taught things that seemed to be contrary to the
official teachings of the Catholic Church.
I found a conservative priest and I checked teachings
out with him to see if they were the official teaching of the
Because I no longer trusted the teachings of the
Religious Education department, I changed majors.
I entered the convent, I was careful to choose a conservative
one which followed the official teachings of the Catholic
My training for religious life included studying the
documents of the Second Vatican Counsel, other books relating
to Catholic doctrine, and biographies of well known saints.
spent over two years as a postulant and a novice.
This was a time of testing for the leaders of the
convent, and for me, to decide whether or not I should make
My mother superior had some questions about my calling,
and she and the leadership decided that I should not remain in
I left the convent on good terms and have occasionally
been in contact with the sisters since then.
mother superior was very careful about which priests she
allowed to say Mass at our convent.
We had priests who were loyal to God and to the
They believed the Bible.
They were faithful men.
I left the convent and went to live with my parents, I
couldn't find priests like that.
The local priests seemed to have little faith and
little loyalty, either to God or to the Catholic Church.
I remember one Mass where the homily (a short sermon)
was so distressing that I left in tears.
I stayed outside, weeping.
But then I went back in, in order to take communion.
I tried every Catholic church in town, but I couldn't
find a good priest.
vividly remember a priest who was spoke about Luke 7:38-50.
This was the time when Jesus ate in the home of a
Pharisee and a woman came and wept and washed Jesus’ feet
with her tears, and dried them with her hair, and anointed
them with ointment.
The Pharisee was critical.
Jesus told him that he had not washed Jesus’ feet,
but the woman did.
He had not greeted Jesus with a kiss, but the woman
kissed his feet.
The Catholic priest said that this event must not have
really happened, because it would be rude for a guest to say
something like that to his host, and Jesus would never have
This illustrates an attitude towards Scripture which I
encountered with a number of priests.
It was very distressing.
my parents had become Christians.
They had joined a little Methodist church where the
pastor believed the Bible and loved the people.
Because the local Catholic churches were distressing,
I started doing the splits.
I went to early morning Mass (out of duty) and then I
attended the Methodist church.
When my parents joined another Scripturally based
Protestant church, I followed them there, while still
attending early morning Mass on Sundays.
I did the splits for years.
made myself go to Mass out of duty.
But I went to my parents’ church eagerly.
I learned exciting things about the Bible there.
I sang songs that stirred my soul.
I took classes that made me more and more hungry for
I got to know people who were enthusiastic about God.
I learned that Biblical principles really work, and
that they make a significant practical difference in real life
I learned more about the Bible, I began to realize that some
Catholic teachings are contrary to Scripture.
This was disturbing, but I kind of pushed those
contradictions to the back of my mind and didn’t deal with
They made me uneasy, but I wasn’t emotionally able to
handle the idea that there might be something wrong with the
brother was a devout Catholic.
He assisted the priests at Mass for many years.
He lived several hours' drive away from us.
We had a tradition that on Easter and Christmas, he
would come visit and we would go to Midnight Mass together.
Christmas, at Midnight Mass, the priest taught that the
Christmas story as presented in the Bible is basically a pious
fairy tale to make people feel good, but it has nothing to do
My brother got so angry that he wanted to jump up and
shout, "Are we here to celebrate it or to debate
next day, we went to church with our parents.
The pastor there told us that Daniel had been in charge
of the "wise men" of Babylon (magi).
Therefore, they knew about Baalam's prophecy that the
King of the Jews would be heralded by a star. Their religion
included watching the stars for signs.
So when they saw the special star, they realized that
it signaled the coming of this special King of the Jews.
Also, one of their functions was to decide who the
valid king was if there was a controversy about it.
So when they came to confirm that Jesus was truly the
King of the Jews, they were fulfilling their official
to say, the contrast was striking.
I did a lot of praying after that.
By the following Easter, I had left the Catholic Church
and joined my parents' church.
didn't know what to tell my brother and his wife, because they
were coming to visit at Easter, and I did not want to go to
Midnight Mass with them.
We had a long, awkward telephone conversation.
Then I finally told them.
They started laughing.
They had also left the Catholic Church, and were in the
process of visiting different churches, trying to find a
was a prayer that had a major impact on my life, but I don’t
remember the exact words.
When I prayed it, I was crying and I didn’t know why.
And afterwards, things were different, but it’s hard
to put into words.
The prayer was something like this:
I want to know You.
Please reveal Yourself to me and make the Bible come
alive for me.
I want to be clean and start over again.
Please forgive my sins. Wash them away and set me
I want to live right.
Please change my heart.
Help me love what You love, and turn away from things
that displease You.
You know what’s best for me.
I want to do things Your way.
Please be the Lord of my life.
Teach me to love the way You love.
Help me be faithful to You.
Thank You for loving me and for hearing this prayer.
Thank You for being my Lord and my Savior.”
then I have been struggling with issues related to
The papers that I have written have emerged from that
addition to being a former nun, I am also a widow.
My husband and I were very close, and his death
introduced me to a level of emotional pain that I didn’t
know was possible.
The articles which I have written about finding God’s
comfort during times of adversity were born out of my own
testimony is not unusual.
A number of former Catholics have written me sharing
how they found a living, personal relationship with God when
they became born-again, Bible-believing, Protestants.
ex-Catholics read my testimony and wrote to me, wanting to be
sure that Jesus Christ is my Lord and my Savior.
An ex-nun befriended me.
Two former priests gave me wise counsel.
Other ex-Catholic friends have shared their hearts,
their wisdom, and valuable information.
I am deeply grateful for these people.
May the Lord bless them for their kindness.
Word brings life to save my soul.
Truth brings light to make me whole.
perfect love casts out my fears,
me, and dries my tears.
in the shadow of Your wings
you teach my heart to sing.
and secure from all alarm,
faithful love keeps me from harm.
will bless You all my days.
fill my heart with songs of praise.
was in religious life for a little over two years.
I was a novice but I never made vows.
A novice is someone who has entered a religious order
and has been given a habit.
He or she undergoes training and religious exercises in
preparation for taking vows.
(There are novice monks as well as novice nuns.)
people have asked me why I call myself a former nun when I
never made vows.
According to “The Catholic Encyclopedia,” if a
novice has been accepted by a religious order (which I was)
and has been given a religious habit (which I wore), then he
or she is a monk or a nun in the broad sense of the term.
[Note 1] So I refer to myself as a former nun.
people have asked me what I believe. In describing my beliefs,
I am going to avoid technical terms.
I am also going to avoid the issues about which
different Protestant churches disagree, such as church
government, form of worship, details about the Second Coming
of Christ, and the relationship between predestination and
believe many things which are not in this summary.
If I tried to go into them all, this would become too
long and cumbersome.
I am only going to mention some key areas.
If I fail to mention something which you consider to be
a foundational Christian doctrine, that does not necessarily
mean that I don’t believe it.
It just means that I didn’t mention it.
believe in the three “solas” of the Protestant
We are saved by faith alone (not faith plus works).
We are saved by faith in Jesus alone (not Jesus plus
Our rule of faith is the Bible alone (not the Bible
plus tradition or other writings).
faith is demonstrated by loving and obeying God, and by doing
These are the results of salvation, not the cause of
works for all Christians under all circumstances.
There are some countries where Christians are severely
In these countries, Bibles are scarce, and Christians
are not able to meet publicly.
Some Christians have been put in prison for their
faith, without Bibles, and often without being able to see
If Christians do not have Bibles to guide them and
encourage them, then God has other ways of guiding them and
God is not limited by our circumstances.
is valuable to have Bibles and pastors and teachers and church
meetings. If they are available, then we should benefit from
them as much as possible.
But if those things are not available, then God is
powerful enough to enable us to live godly lives without them.
Jesus promised us that the Holy Spirit would guide us
into all truth (John 16:13) and teach us “all things”
God is able to keep us from falling. (Jude 1:24)
believe in the authority and the accuracy of the Bible.
I believe that it is the inspired Word of God.
Jesus said that the Father showed Him what to say.
(John 12:49) Surely our God is capable of doing the same thing
for the men who wrote the books of the Bible.
the Bible, God shows us His nature and His character.
He shows us what we should believe and how we should
We need to test everything against Scripture.
We also need to ask God to help us understand
Scripture, to reveal Himself to us through the Bible, and to
help us live according to His Word.
people can understand the Bible.
We don’t have to rely on experts or church officials.
The basic principles are simple enough for a child to
But the Bible is so rich that a brilliant scholar can
spend a lifetime studying it and still not understand
everything in it.
believe that every Christian can have a personal relationship
We all have direct access to Him.
We don’t have to rely on professionals, church
officials, and other special people.
believe in the Atonement.
Jesus died to save us from our sins.
I believe in the Resurrection.
Jesus literally rose from the dead and He now has a
glorified body. He is in Heaven with the Father, and He is
interceding for us.
I believe in the Second Coming.
Jesus will come back again.
believe that at the end of all things, we will all stand
before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ.
(2 Corinthians 5:10;
John 5:22; Romans 14:10) Talking about judgment is not
popular these days, but it’s in the Bible.
When Judgment Day comes, we will want to be numbered
with the Redeemed, the Saved, those whose sins have been
Even then, our works will be tested by fire. (1
believe in the Trinity.
There is only one God.
But there is the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy
I believe in the Incarnation.
Jesus Christ is truly God and truly man.
Jesus was miraculously conceived by God.
Mary was still a virgin when Jesus was born.
don’t understand how this works.
But even the Apostle Paul had things that he didn’t
Paul often spoke about mysteries that are beyond our
in the physical world, there are many things which we can’t
According to the laws of aerodynamics, hummingbirds and
bumble bees should not be able to fly.
But they do.
Scientists are studying them in hopes of gaining new
understanding about aerodynamics, and developing new forms of
There is an animal called a platypus which is warm
blooded, lays eggs, and nurses its babies.
looks and acts like a cross between a mammal and a
Everything is made of atoms.
Atoms have a nucleus of protons and neutrons, and there
are electrons that go around the nucleus.
The protons are positive.
Neutrons are magnetically neutral.
And electrons are negative.
Have you ever tried to take two magnets and hold the
positive sides of them together?
They push each other away.
Yet here we have these protons all together in the
nucleus of the atom.
What holds them together?
Scientists don’t know.
is full of mysteries.
The Trinity and the Incarnation are two of them.
Atonement is another mystery.
I believe that Jesus did it.
The Bible gives me some understanding of why we
desperately needed to have Him do it for us.
But I cannot understand how He could love us enough to
How could Jesus love us so much that He was willing to
be tortured to death for us?
Especially when He knew that most people would not
respond to Him and would not appropriate the salvation that He
paid such a high price for.
How could God the Father love us so much that he
endured the agony of watching his beloved Son be crucified?
God’s love is beyond my comprehension.
believe that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way that we can
In the Garden of Gesthemane, Jesus prayed to the
Father, begging His Father to spare Him from having to drink
the cup of suffering. (Matthew 26:39; 26:42) If there was some
other way to save us, don’t you think that the Father would
have told Jesus?
Don’t you think that Jesus and the Father both
intensely wanted to find some other way to save us?
But there was no other way.
Jesus had to go through the indescribable agony of
mocking, shame, abandonment, physical torture, and death in
order to save us.
And He was willing to do it for us.
there was some other way, then why did Jesus suffer for us?
If good works, or being nice, or sacraments, or
devotion to Mary, or good intentions, or wearing the brown
scapular, or non-Christian religions, or anything else would
do the job, then Jesus didn’t need to suffer for us.
Nobody in their right mind would go through that kind
of suffering if it wasn’t absolutely necessary.
And no loving father would allow his son to go through
it if it could be avoided.
There is no other way.
That’s why Jesus died for us.
have a Biblical world view.
I believe in a literal heaven and hell.
I believe that the devil is real.
I believe that angels and demons are real.
And I believe that God intervenes in the lives of
individuals and of nations in response to prayer.
I believe that the healings and miracles and
supernatural events of the Bible are real.
They really happened.
God did it then, and if He wants to, He can do it now.
(If you want to see an example, read “God’s
Smuggler” by Brother Andrew.
God supernaturally protected Brother Andrew when he was
smuggling Bibles into Communist countries.
I have also read and heard accounts of God
supernaturally protecting modern Christians who were being
live in America.
Many people here no longer believe in a Biblical world
It is interesting that two things are happening at the
Many modern Christians are abandoning their belief in
the supernatural things which are described in the Bible.
At the same time, belief in occult supernatural things
is growing rapidly and is becoming more and more mainstream.
Books, movies, and TV shows are full of it.
Some colleges have courses in goddess worship,
witchcraft, spell casting, and other occult things.
The American military has Wiccan “chaplains”.
God can use all things, even the occult.
I know a man who saw the movie “The Exorcist”.
He also read the book.
It persuaded him that the devil is real.
He decided that if the devil is real, then God must
also be real.
So he started reading the Bible to find out about God.
This man eventually became a strong Christian.
want you to be able to check out what I have said for
You probably don’t have the books I used as sources.
Therefore, I have found a number of articles on the
Internet which give much of the same information.
I have done my best to reach fair and accurate
conclusions based on reliable sources of information.
But I’m only human.
I have my failings.
We all do.
I may have made some mistakes.
it’s not about me.
It’s about you and the truth.
You can check out this material for yourself and come
to your own conclusions.
And you can ask God to show you the truth.
He is the only one who has the big picture.
He is the only one who really understands what is going
in the final analysis, it’s between you and God.
It doesn’t depend on me at all.
role is just to introduce you to some information.
You and God can take it from there.
HISTORY OF MY WEB SITE
Protestant friends of mine asked me to give them information
about apparitions of Mary.
I did research on the subject, as well as drawing from
my own personal experience.
(I was devoted to Mary and influenced by the
Lourdes and Fatima.
I wore a scapular and a Miraculous Medal,
prayed the rosary,
and participated in special services honoring Mary.) I
wrote a paper for my friends entitled, “Mary Worship?
A Study of Catholic Practice and Doctrine”.
(Marian devotions and my involvement with them are
described in that article.)
family suggested that other people might be interested in the
So I created a web site for that one paper.
People wrote to me about the article and about
Catholicism in general.
I wrote more articles in response to their questions
However, I get a lot of mail and I’m not good at
So please forgive me if I forget your name, or don’t
remember that we corresponded before.
Also, occasionally somebody’s letter may “fall
through the cracks”.
I don’t always have time to respond to letters right
away, and they may get lost in the crowd when a bunch of new
mail comes in.
So if I don’t respond to you, please try me again.
you are disturbed by some of the things which I have written,
I understand how you feel.
I am disturbed by them, too.
I was a devout Catholic for many years, and strongly
loyal to the Catholic Church.
It is painful for me to read about these things and to
write about them.
But we need the truth, even when it is painful.
you disagree with me so strongly that you want to write me an
angry letter, please feel free to do so.
I understand where you are coming from.
However, I may not reply.
But I will pray for you.
no longer get involved in doctrinal debates.
I’ve spent many long hours doing that and enough is
Time is precious and I have other things to do with my
OF THIS ARTICLE
encourage you to put this article on your website or to link
I encourage you to quote from this article, to copy it,
and to distribute copies of it.
I encourage you to translate it into foreign languages
and to distribute foreign language copies of it.
You have my permission to sell copies of this article.
I do not want any royalties or financial remuneration
of any kind.
You have my permission to publish this article by
itself, or to incorporate it into a published work of your
own, as long as you do the following two things: (1) Don’t
make any changes in the article; and (2) Include the following
2002 by Mary Ann Collins.
All rights reserved.
Used by permission.”
“Novice” in the 1913 edition of
“The Catholic Encyclopedia,” Volume XI.
This article is available on-line.
The term “novice” refers to both monks and nuns who
go through a period of training and preparation. In Section
II, “Juridical Condition,” the article states that a
novice in a religious order is a “regular” in the widest
sense of the word.
(A “regular” is a technical term for a monk or a
The article often speaks of
“he” when modern usage would be to say
“he or she”.
Section I, “Definition and
Requirements,”specifically mentions nuns.
And it gives instructions regarding married women who
want to become nuns.
So the article is about both novice monks and novice
February 2002 by Mary Ann Collins.
From Mary Ann Collins---
I now have two new
One deals with issues
which are of concern to all Christians. It is
called Key Christian
One of the articles on
that website deals with some threats to our
freedom of religion and
freedom of conscience. I created a separate
website just for that
paper, so that people would be able to easily
remember the name of the
website. A link is below.
haven't had a chance to peruse these as yet- Vicky Dillen)
Copyright . All articles are the sole property of SeekGod.ca and Vicky Dillen. All Scripture King James Version unless otherwise stated.
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