By J. Michael Parker
For Today’s Catholic
SAN ANTONIO • Rosalind Moss, a Jewish-born convert who spent 18 years as an evangelical Protestant missionary before becoming Catholic in 1995, said she wants to tell the world about Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church, which she calls “a faith to die for.”
She’s been spreading the message for the past nine years. Now she’s about to launch a new religious order as an outgrowth of this ministry.
Moss was keynote speaker May 1 at the Guadalupe Radio Network’s second annual Pescadores de Hombres luncheon honoring Louis and Vivian Vance for their dedication to a wide variety of Catholic causes and ministries. Several hundred friends and supporters of Catholic Radio attended the luncheon at The Club at Sonterra in San Antonio.
Moss travels and speaks worldwide. She is the editor of Home at Last: 11 Who Found Their Way to the Catholic Church. She has a semi-monthly radio program called “From the Heart” on “Catholic Answers Live.” Moss also co-hosts the Eternal Word Television Network’s “Household of Faith” and “Now We’re Catholic” shows as well as a new series, “Reasons for Our Hope: A Bible Study on the Gospel of Luke.”
She is launching her order of evangelical sisters, The Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel’s Hope, in cooperation with St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke.
Taking her theme from the Book of Hebrews, written for early Christians who were spiritually tired and were leaning toward apostasy, Moss said that “the only faith that’s worth living for is a faith that’s to die for. We Catholics have a faith that’s worthy dying for.”
But Catholics must be engaged in the world to have a positive impact, she said.
“The enemy of our souls would love for us to live good, faithful Catholic lives apart from the world so we could not have an impact. Even though he may have lost his battle with our souls, he would know we wouldn’t take anybody else with us.”
That’s possible today, Moss said, because too many Catholics are sitting on the fence, afraid to share their faith with others. She spoke of a young communist who told about his willingness to live his entire life in accordance with the needs and demands of the Communist Party, up to and including dying for it.
“He’s putting us to shame. If only someone would pass him the right message,” she said.
Reared in a Conservative Jewish family, Moss was 32 when her brother, an atheist, told her there were Jews who believed the Messiah had come. She was referring to the Jews for Jesus movement.
Jews do not consider such “messianic” groups Jewish. They contend that one cannot be both Christian and Jewish.
Members of Jews for Jesus “lived their faith in everything they did and everything they didn’t do. They led me to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
That was in 1976. Soon, Moss joined an evangelical church and attended her first Bible study, “taught by an ex-Catholic who had been taught by an ex-priest that the Catholic Church was a cult leading millions of people astray.” Meanwhile, her brother had joined a Baptist church.
She spent the next 18 years attempting to save Catholics.
In 1979, her brother became a Catholic, “despite all I had done to save him from that.” In 1990, he gave her a copy of This Rock, a Catholic apologetics magazine. An advertisement for Scott Hahn, a former Presbyterian minister who had attracted a national audience lecturing about his conversion to Catholicism, persuaded her to investigate the claims of the Catholic Church.
“God used (Hahn’s) tapes to penetrate my heart,” Moss recalled. “He said, ‘For those who look into the claims of the Catholic Church, into 2,000 years of church history and the early church fathers will come a holy shock and glorious amazement.”
Holy shock is just what Moss received, she said. “What I had been fighting to save people from was the very church that Christ established on earth 2,000 years ago.”
That five-year journey of study was agonizing, she said, and was the last one she would have wanted to make. But she concluded that if she didn’t study those claims, she would be turning away from God. The journey led to her reception into full communion with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil in 1995.
This Rock magazine hired her and she has been a professional Catholic apologist for the past nine years.
She intends her new religious order to be a visible sign to a world that has turned away from God, just as sisters in past generations were. They’ll wear traditional habits and be a teaching, evangelizing and contemplative order.
Moss said she was a 20-year-old Jew when she read in the news that Catholic nuns had received permission to wear knee-length instead of ankle-length habits. She believed that instead of influencing the world for God, they had allowed the world to influence them.
Although one cannot make definitive judgments about another person’s orthodoxy by what the person wears, and although habits originated out of specific cultures where such dress was common, it’s more true today than ever before that people need visible signs, and habits provide visible signs, she noted.
“Nobody knows they’re nuns if they’re wearing street clothes and maybe a little cross on their lapel. Lots of Christians wear symbols on their clothes,” Moss said.
But everyone recognizes nuns when they wear habits.
Bill Cox, a member of St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in San Antonio, said he was struck by the power and fire evident in Moss’ words.
“She was a wonderful speaker. Her faith seems much more alive than that of the typical Catholic. Hearing her makes me want to go out and evangelize,” Cox said.
Mary Jane Fox, co-founder of the Pilgrim Center of Hope in San Antonio with her husband, Deacon Tom Fox, said Moss has touched people at many levels of spirituality because her address reflects a deep love of the Gospel.
“She has a maternal spirit, and God has used it to make her an instrument for the salvation of souls. I found her very challenging. She doesn’t mince words, and you know what she says is good for you. She challenged people to enter deeply into the life of a disciple.”
J. Michael Parker, formerly religion writer of the San Antonio Express-News for 23 years, is director of communications for Oblate School of Theology. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.