Kenny Burchard was sort of a typical charismatic, evangelical pastor. He had the regular sort of anti-Catholic misconceptions and biases, planted by well-meaning radio evangelists, gospel tracts, and experience. After all, most of the Catholics Kenny could name were the former Catholics that populated the pews at the charismatic churches that he pastored.
But with over twenty years in full-time ministry behind him, Kenny and his wife Mary Jo heeded God’s calling to pack up church ministry and move across the United States.
They were used to hearing God’s call, and responding.
But when they got to their new home in Virginia, says Kenny, they had a hard time finding a church that felt like home.
They decided to take a tour of all of the churches, twenty in total, says Kenny, to see what Jesus was doing in their city.
It was a well-intentioned move, listening for God’s voice, but it would inevitably take Kenny’s life in a radically different direction.
In and amongst their church tour were three Catholic churches. Out of their comfort zone, to be sure, and although neither Kenny nor his wife were always sure what was going on something struck them both: the centrality of the altar, and the Eucharist.
“In the Catholic churches,” says Kenny, “it was always that cup and that bread and that altar.”
“There’s something to this,” he realized. And he couldn’t shake the feeling.
A few years later, still undecided on their home church, Kenny recalls driving through the city one night with his wife.
“We drove by a bunch of churches–one after the other–and as I’m driving by I look at my wife and say, ‘I don’t think I could ever go back to another one of those.'” says Kenny.
“Unless it’s Catholic.”
His wife, Mary Jo, understood completely.
It was the call of the altar, it was the call of the centrality of the Eucharist in worship instead of the worship music, the band, or the pastor’s sermon. It was the call, ultimately of God.
It came on the way home from the beach, the day before Kenny’s 49th birthday, on a stop for ice cream. Kenny noticed a local Catholic church, one that hadn’t necessarily stood out before because it wouldn’t, not for any particular reason, but as they passed by, as he did notice it, he was hit by a revelation.
What’s called, in the charismatic tradition, a “word from the Lord.”
Catholics have a term for it too: a locution.
The voice of God, clear as a bell.
“Go to church there,” Kenny recalls hearing.
And, as a charismatic evangelical, attentively listening to the Lord for all those years, Kenny knew God’s voice when he heard it–and knew he had to listen.
So he went.
And he didn’t get much out of it the first time.
“I was trying to figure out how it worked,” says Kenny.
But one of his friends gave him a copy of Scott Hahn’s The Lamb’s Supper.
Hahn, a fellow convert and brilliant biblical theologian, spoke in a language that Kenny needed to hear and unpacked, from the Bible, what was happening in the Mass. It opened Kenny’s eyes up–the Mass was more charismatic than any service he’d been in before, when properly understood!
It was a massive paradigm shift and began Kenny’s move towards full communion with the Catholic Church. A move he made, with his wife Mary Jo, and their son Victor, in 2019.
Listen or watch this episode to hear the full story, and listen to what else convinced Kenny of the need for a universal, authoritative Church, and what advice he has for those considering Catholicism–or merely trying to listen’s to God’s call in their lives.
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