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Elizabeth Schiavone's op-ed column on the Catholic Church and contraception: A Heart Changed.

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DEAN ROHRER
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Date published: 2/24/2013

ARLINGTON

--I am a wife and mother of five grown children, and I am active in the Catholic Church. There was a time, not that long ago, when I wasn't Catholic. The example of others led me to the faith and a fuller, more complete understanding of life and the gift of parenthood.

I was born in 1956 and raised Presbyterian. I grew up in Maryland, married a lifelong Catholic in 1982, and agreed to raise our children in the Catholic faith, though I did not accept all the teachings. I thought the Holy Father was a great man but not vicar of Christ on Earth. I did not believe in the real presence of the Eucharist. For a Protestant, contraception was allowed. But out of love, I committed to the priest who married my husband and me that I would raise the children Catholic. I had much to learn.

By 1988, my promise was in full gear, with five children (including two sets of twins). I was president of the Mothers of Twins in Montgomery County, and our motto was "Where God Chooses The Members." I can't tell you how many people asked me how the second set of twins happened. (We cannot choose twins. Nor should we try to!)

When I got married, I looked to the example of my husband's aunt and uncle, a Catholic couple with a strong marriage. As I was converting, I developed a strong devotion to Mary, a love for the Blessed Sacrament, and a strong appreciation for the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. My parents taught me to value family, and my husband and I worked to pass these values along to our children.

I entered the Catholic Church in 1993, the culmination of a long journey, and one that I do not believe is finished. My path to the faith is paved with role models I have collected throughout my life, from inspirational Presbyterian preacher in high school to many other Christians and Catholics.


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A HEART CHANGED: THE GIFT OF FAMILY AND PARENTHOOD

Elizabeth "Liz" Schiavone is president of the Arlington Diocesan Council of Catholic Women. She is a resident of Herndon.