Catherine Houlihan is a Grant Researcher from Miami Florida. Earlier this week the Huffington Post published an article she wrote where she shares her becoming Muslim story.
Catherine grew up in an Irish-Catholic family but she says she "was never able to fully accept Catholicism as her faith" adding "I wanted so desperately to follow and honor both God and Jesus, but I couldn't sincerely do that by being Catholic. To my surprise and over the course of 13 years, I found that Islam provided me the opportunity to do both... I never could bring myself to believe that Jesus was God. Yes, I love Jesus, and I wholeheartedly believe that we should proactively seek to obtain the extraordinary human qualities that he possessed, but in my eyes, there is only one God, and a man could never be God."
"I was unable to ever accept the concept of original sin (that newborns entered this world carrying sins that could be forgiven through the Sacrament of Baptism). I perceived this as an initiation ritual into Christianity; it felt more political than spiritual. I knew that I could never desert my eternal love for God and my ceaseless admiration for Jesus. I remained Catholic, while I searched for a place that allowed me to preserve what I would not abandon and provide me clarity for what I could not accept. Where that was, I wasn't sure. I genuinely hoped that it existed somewhere."
Throughout her childhood, Catherine was inspired by the Catholic Saint 'Thomas More' who chose death over giving up his faith. In her first year of college, she read the Autobiography of Malcolm X and was impressed by his "unwavering search for truth" and how he found his answers in Islam. Saint Thomas More and Malcolm X gave her clarity and hope that "if I kept searching, I could possibly find a source for both connecting with God and finding the truth that I was seeking".
After college, I volunteered with an international nonprofit in West Africa. One afternoon, I was sitting outside in the sweltering heat with a Ghanaian volunteer. To avoid getting sunburned, I wrapped my favorite orange pashmina over my head. Then, I heard my friend say: "You look beautiful in hijab."
"Are you Muslim?" I asked him. He nodded, and with some prodding, revealed to me that Muslims both recognize and honor Jesus as a prophet. That detail caught my attention and got me thinking: Could Islam be the source of clarity that I was seeking? I wasn't sure, and I wasn't quite ready to explore the possibility just yet.
Back in the US she settled in Miami Florida: "Years passed. Life was so easy and oh-so fun! I felt incredibly blessed, but just beneath the surface, I was very lonely, and far too often, I fell asleep with tears in my eyes and a growing heaviness in my heart, so I turned to my father for guidance. He listened to me intently and made one simple suggestion: Read."
Source: Huffington Post