Life-long Atheist Converts to Catholicism

The recent conversion of a life-long atheist and high profile public figure in Australia reminds us that even in the darkest times, where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.

Faithwire is reporting on the story of Bill Hayden, 85, Australia’s former governor-general, who lived most of his life denying the existence of God – until a visit with a devout nun left him with the powerful and unforgettable feeling of having been in the presence of authentic holiness.

Hayden, who was baptized at St. Mary’s Church in Ipswich, near Brisbane, on September 9, said he always declared himself to be Catholic on official forms but never made a public commitment to the faith.

“I would go to Mass every Sunday and then go to benediction when I was a teenager,” he said. “I didn’t know that I wasn’t officially a Catholic, and found that out only later, when my sister did the family history.”

It wasn’t until he suffered a stroke in 2014 that he began to realize there was “more to life than just me.” He was left with a strong feeling that he must make a dedication of himself for the good of others, before God.

These feelings were intensified after a hospital visit from Sister of Mercy Angela Mary Doyle, a 93 year-old nun who is famous for her work with the poor. Hayden said he “always felt embraced and loved by her Christian example.”

He continued: “Dallas [his wife], our daughter Ingrid and I recently visited Sister Angela Mary in the Mater Hospital where she was a patient. The next morning I woke with the strong sense that I had been in the presence of a holy woman. So after dwelling on these things I found my way back to the core of those beliefs — the Church.”

Father Peter Dillon, who baptized Hayden, said the well-known lawmaker’s final change of heart came several months ago.

“It was a big thing for him … an act of submission to the fact that there was no denying for him that God is real and he had come to discover that,” the priest explained.

Shortly after being baptized, Hayden said: “This took too long, and now I am going to be devoted. From this day forward, I’m going to vouch for God.”

This story is proof that even in the bleakest times, the light of Truth is still able to shatter the darkness.

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