Bishop Tom Dowd's personal story of faith

During my time of private spiritual preparation for the Year of Faith, I have felt called to share the story of my personal faith journey. The notion first arose when I was being interviewed by journalists prior to my ordination as a bishop. More than one reporter asked me if I had ever had any doubts or questions about my Catholic faith. In all honesty, while I am a firmly committed believer in Jesus Christ and in his Church, I (like lots of people) have indeed had my struggles. That being said, while those times were certainly difficult, I have to admit that the process of working through those challenges has helped me become the man of faith that I am today. As I sometimes tell people, "I used to believe what I did because I was a Catholic; but now, I am a Catholic because of what I believe." This holds true today. Indeed, it has become even more important to me now that I am a bishop, because as a bishop I supposed to be doing more than just be teaching "the party line". I don't see how I could ever have considered being a priest, much less a bishop, without a profound and examined conviction that what I would be teaching was actually the Truth: the truth about God, the truth about the cosmos and the human condition, and the truth about our deepest longings and our common destiny.

I don't want to claim that my journey of faith is somehow universal, and that everyone is obliged to accept it as universally valid. After all, my life experience is unique to me. That being said, I have often appreciated hearing about the faith journey of others, even though that journey was unique to them. Very often, I found myself challenged by the issues others would wrestle with, and nourished by the answers they found. Most importantly, I would find myself in admiration at their desire to follow where their emerging convictions would lead them. Faith, after all, isn't just an external content, a list of truths: it is also a personal response consistent with those truths.

I am not a perfect Catholic, and I don't want to pretend that my life today is some sort of ideal response to the truths of the Catholic faith. While I'd like to be a living saint (and I really mean that), I know I'm still a sinner, and that I have a long way to go. Still, even that is a grace. After all, one can only know their weakness if they also know their potential strength. The Catholic faith is part of that strength: it has given me a reliable map to guide my life, and firm foundation upon which to build as I have made (and continue to make) my life choices. To be honest, it has also led me to have a life that is, quite frankly, extremely rich and interesting, and full of opportunities for joy. And so, in this Year of Faith, I feel called to share my personal story of faith, in the hopes it will help others find their foundation and source of joy in Christ as well.