May 20, 2022

‘St. Paul was everywhere’ in former atheist’s conversion to Christ

Standing between his sponsor Stone Robbins, left, and his pastor Father Rick Nagel of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, right, Adam Scott smiles with joy after the Easter Vigil Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church on April 16, when he joined the full communion of the Church. (Submitted photo)

Standing between his sponsor Stone Robbins, left, and his pastor Father Rick Nagel of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, right, Adam Scott smiles with joy after the Easter Vigil Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church on April 16, when he joined the full communion of the Church. (Submitted photo)

(Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles chronicling the journey of six people who were received into the full communion of the Church at the Easter Vigil on April 16.)
 

By Natalie Hoefer

Adam Scott was a self-proclaimed atheist. The 27-year-old Indianapolis biomedical engineer had been living his life “as a stereotypical secular man.”

“I didn’t care about faith,” Scott admits. “I was more interested in the material world. I just kind of lived my life and was excited about whatever was in front of me.”

In June 2021, he had a “bad” breakup with his girlfriend.

“In just a matter of hours, I realized how terrible my life actually was,” says Scott. “I wasn’t really a nice person. I didn’t treat people close to me very well. It was pretty overwhelming.”

In response to this realization, Scott attempted suicide. The person he was with at the time saved his life—and that’s when Scott says he experienced a “St. Paul moment” in which he came to believe in God.

“In that moment, I was like, ‘Wow! There is something bigger to this [life]!’ ” he recalls. “I realized there was this holy presence with me. I felt that deep in me. I became convinced in that very moment that God was real, like the snap of a finger.”

With the help of a longtime friend, his friend’s wife and members of a Catholic young adult book study, Scott was welcomed into full communion of the Church during the Easter Vigil Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis on April 16.

“When I found Christ, I literally felt like my life had been saved, and I got a fresh new start,” he says. “I felt my life change for the better, and I actually had a purpose.”

‘Awestruck by how much I missed out’

With his newfound belief in God, Scott reached out to his longtime friend, Stone Robbins, and Stone’s wife, Natalie.

“He’s been pursuing me since high school when he became Catholic,” Scott says of Stone. “He’s been trying to get me to find God and get baptized for 10 years now.”

He shared his conversion experience with Stone and Natalie. The couple invited Scott to go to Mass with them, and he did—every Sunday, through and including the Easter Vigil Mass where Stone served as his sponsor in becoming Catholic.

At Natalie’s suggestion, Scott and Stone joined a young adult book study through St. John the Evangelist Parish. The book was A Biblical Walk Through the Mass by Edward Sri.

“I learned so much, being in that group with a lot of other Catholics and me being the only non-Catholic,” says Scott. He learned “not only from the book, but I got to understand their experiences and their lives, and how the Catholic faith has been important to them.

“Understanding what went on [at Mass] and the importance of all the things that go on during the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist and what it all meant—I was awestruck by how much I missed out.”

Part of that awe came from realizing “that during each liturgy you go to, you get to be in the presence of Christ, truly,” he says.

“And the other thing, too, is that [the Mass] is all based on scriptural truth, it’s all built on Scripture.”

Scott was also drawn in by a mental image of Mass as described by a woman in his book study.

“She said that when the procession happens, she just pictures all the saints and angels coming in with the priest,” he recalls. “That was one of the most beautiful things I heard, thinking of all those people willing to pray for you and be there with you, and they want you to come to Christ as well.”

‘St. Paul was everywhere’

In January, Scott approached Father Rick Nagel, St. John’s pastor, and parish Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) director Deacon David Bartolowits about the steps he needed to take to become Catholic.

“Both felt that, honestly, I’d been working really hard to understand the faith and it was a really big part of me,” he says. “With the supportive group I had through the book study and the young adult community and Stone and Natalie, they felt I was prepared and ready enough to jump right into RCIA. I got caught up and ready to go.”

Scott also started going to daily Mass in January.

“Not being able to take Communion every day was the worst!” he says. “I wanted that so bad, especially after understanding what it meant.”

He recalls Father Nagel calling him by name each time he went up for a blessing during Communion.

So, when it was time for him to receive Communion at the Easter Vigil Mass, “I’m crying,” says Scott. “And Father [Nagel] says, ‘Adam, the Body of Christ.’ I said, ‘Finally! Amen!’ ”

He also recalls the joy he felt during his baptism, “to be wiped clean of all the sin I’ve committed throughout my life and stop nailing Christ to the cross.”

For his confirmation saint, Scott says he strongly considered St. Mary Magdalene.

“But St. Paul was everywhere,” he says.

There was Scott’s own instant conversion like the great Apostle’s. But there was something else that drew Scott to choose St. Paul.

“You want a saint who not only connects to you, but that you can see as a mentor and guide and want to live up to,” he says. “Somebody that you want to achieve their level of devotion to the faith and to Christ and try to even exceed that.

“I want to be able to bring my [future] kids to Christ, my friends, my family, and do that in a loving way. … I want to be able to know that suffering is a good thing, that while we’re suffering, we’re growing closer to Christ.”

‘I feel like I got a second life’

By pursuing Christ through the Catholic Church, says Scott, “I just changed as a man. I grew in maturity. I felt better, after everything I’d been dealing with and through the process of getting through all the guilt from the breakup and all the hurt from that.”

He says he started listening to different music, practicing different morals, volunteering and helping others.

“I feel like I have a purpose now,” says Scott. “And I think that does wonders more than a lot of people know, just having something out past this life that you’re try to achieve. It gives a true anticipation for a life after this in the Resurrection.

“I’m excited to take on that process and try to be a better man, [future] husband and father, family member and friend.

“I feel like I got a second life.” †

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