New Catholic cites bishop’s role in conversion experience
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| | Catholic Herald/Submitted photo
Brent Blomberg, far left, is one of 60 new Catholics welcomed into the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil Masses across the Diocese of Superior. At right is Blomberg’s sponsor, Gordy Lewis of Immaculate Conception Parish, Grantsburg.
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“I love Mass,” said Brent Blomberg of his first experience attending a Chrism Mass on March 27. “This is my first Mass at the cathedral. It’s just a wonderful experience.”
Blomberg was confirmed a Catholic from Immaculate Conception Parish, Grantsburg at the Easter Vigil Mass. His sponsor was Gordy Lewis.
When asked why he chose to become a Catholic after experiencing an active Lutheran upbringing and adulthood, Blomberg does not hesitate: It’s the church’s teaching authority.
“The church is not going to be blown about by the culture because of the faithfulness of the magisterium, and I very, very much appreciate that. The whims of the culture are not determining doctrine.”
“Magisterium” is the Latin word the church uses to refer to the teaching authority of the pope and bishops.
“I was baptized at age 10 along with my brother the same evening,” Blomberg said. That was in the Lutheran Church. He even remembers the date: “June 1, 1963 — the Saturday evening before Pentecost” because two days later, Pope John XXIII died.
“I still am on good terms with the Lutheran Church,” Blomberg said. “In fact, I talked with Bishop Peter (Christensen) when I visited (Superior) in September. I asked him if I could continue to be the keeper of the chimes at Faith Lutheran Church.”
Faith Lutheran is the church Blomberg has been affiliated with in Grantsburg.
The bishop asked him who made the chimes, and Blomberg replied, “Verdin.”
He then recalled with a wry smile that the bishop said, “‘Oh. They send me chocolates every year.’”
Blomberg said of the bishop, “I think that he’s ecumenically minded ... maintaining the relationship that way” when he recalled that the bishop had no problem with his continuing to tend the chimes at a Lutheran church.
Bishop Christensen also had some direct involvement in Blomberg’s transition to Catholicism.
“He’s been a very big influence on me,” Blomberg said, adding that the bishop is “obviously a very kind and caring man.”
Blomberg first visited with him in 2009 at Immaculate Conception when the bishop celebrated Mass for the parish’s centennial.
“I visited with him for a few minutes before Mass,” Blomberg said, adding that he told the bishop he was a Lutheran but understood he could come forward to receive a blessing during the communion procession. Blomberg wanted to make sure that was correct.
“I wanted to ask — run it by him. We talked about that. We talked about a number of things. I told him I love the Catholic Church. The next year he came down to St. Dominic in Frederic and Immaculate Conception … for confirmation of the young people. So after the Mass … pretty much everybody had disappeared; then we visited again. At that visit I told him, ‘I am going to become Catholic. I just don’t know know the timing of this.’ (The bishop) said, ‘The Holy Spirit will guide you.’”
Last summer, Blomberg phoned the bishop’s secretary and explained his prior conversation with the bishop.
“I said the Holy Spirit has indeed helped me figure out the timing,” he said. “So I asked if I could visit with him one more time. She said she would talk to Bishop Peter.”
The two scheduled another meeting at the bishop’s office.
“So I came up a couple days after that in late September. I think it was on the feast of St. Matthew. He graciously greeted me, and we had a wonderful visit in his office. We spent about an hour together. In the course of our conversation I told him my dad was the Ford dealer in Grantsburg. I was driving a Mercury Topaz.”
When their visit was ending, Blomberg said, “He walked me out, and he saw the car, and then I said, ‘Come over here.’ I opened up the back door.”
In the back seat were crucifixes Blomberg had brought along.
“Would you like me to bless them?” the bishop said.
“That’d be great!” said Blomberg.
Why did he have crucifixes in the back seat?
“Just in case,” Blomberg said, with a wry smile.
© Superior Catholic Herald, April 12, 2012