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10/30/2013 12:56:00 PM
Family of nine enters church together
Catholic Sentinel photo by Rick Keating
Fr. Todd Molinari with the entire Shaferly family, who joined the Catholic church together.
Catholic Sentinel photo by Rick Keating
Fr. Todd Molinari with the entire Shaferly family, who joined the Catholic church together.

SALEM — When John Shaferly was baptized at St. Joseph Church here, he wasn’t alone. In the church with him was his wife Jill and his seven children: William, 12, Annie, 10, Noelle, 8, Josie, 7, Wesley, 5, Alyssa, 3, and Addie, 1.

John, Jill and the four eldest children were fully initiated on a day the entire family has been eagerly anticipating.

“It was a momentous occasion for us,” John said. “An incredible experience.”
John and Jill were raised in Protestant families of strong faith, with parents who taught them to keep Christ central in their lives. Jill’s father is a pastor of 43 years; John’s parents were missionaries in Haiti, where he was raised.

John never dreamed he would someday become a Catholic.

But, it all boils down to a pursuit of truth and escaping the tyranny of relativism, John said.

“I was searching all of the interpretations of scripture and having a difficult time determining which was correct,” he said. He had been a teacher of Bible class for 10 years, so he was familiar with the scripture, but as he continued to dig, he reached a place of despair.

It was a dark place. But John had heard people speak of the Magesterium and the infallibility of the pope in guiding the Catholic church, so he decided to look into it.
“It was the only light in the sky,” he said. That was spring 2012. John and Jill started reading books, and talking to neighbors who had converted a few years prior.

“The scripture was really rich and deep and blew me away in many ways,” John said. “It not only answered my questions, but gave me far better answers than what I expected. It wasn’t long before we realized this was the way we were going to go.”

Though their transition to the Catholic Church hasn’t been well understood by everyone in their community, John said they were discovering something so wonderful that it was an easy choice to make.

A close-knit family, the Shaferlys have always gathered for daily devotionals. The children love holy cards, rosaries and crucifixes for their rooms. Prayer books would disappear into their oldest son’s room — he liked to read them front to back.

“We have loved our journey so far,” John said.

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