Pro-Actively Pro-Convert Bibliography

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Stanley L. Jaki, Newman to Converts: An Existential Ecclesiology (Real View Books Publishers)

This book presents an analysis of the instructions Newman gave in letters spread over several decades to some 30 prospective converts: a true vademecum for a priest instructing those interested in becoming Catholic.

“Strange as this may appear, the instructions Newman gave in letters to prospective converts have not yet formed the subject of a thorough inquiry. This in spite of some salient facts: thirty or so such persons were involved over several decades; the total length of those instructions would amount to six to seven hundred pages if printed together; and, finally, the material has been in print for now over a quarter of a century.

“If one considers the wealth of publications on Newman during that time, the neglect of the topic may be far from unintentional. Surely, in an age of an ecumenism often heedless of basic and unchangeable parameters, Newman’s insistence on the grievous sin of staying in schism, to say nothing of the sin of plain heresies, can hardly be attractive.

“In an age of dubious innovations in Catholic ecclesiology, very uncomfortable should appear to its practitioners Newman’s emphasis on such “conservative” notions as the obviousness of the four Notes of the Church, let alone of a Church which, in his eyes, was the One True Fold of salvation.

“What he stressed to prospective converts constitutes the pylons of a truly existential ecclesiology, simply because for Newman, both in his own case and in the case of others, the duty of belonging to that One True Fold was the matter of a choice between eternal life and death, the most existential choice available to man.”

According to the Catholic Herald (London), “Jaki’s book opens a Pandora box. It surely shakes to its foundations much of the recent literature on Newman.” (from

 JOHN BEAUMONT, Converts to Rome: A Guide to Notable converts from Britain and Ireland during the Twentieth Century

“The nineteenth century was a great period in the history of Britain and Ireland for conversions to the Catholic Church. Most of these converts came from Anglicanism, but they represented a wide range of interests and expertise. There were poets (for example, Hopkins, Dowson and Patmore), artists (Beardsley), men of law (Arnold and Hope-Scott), architects (Pugin and Scott), clergymen (Faber, Manning, Martindale and Newman) and representatives from many other trades and vocations. Some were eminent even before their “move to Rome,” others almost completely unknown. Some found fame on their conversion, others suffered greatly for their zeal for the one true fold of Christ. Some came into the Church relatively early in life, whilst others entered at the final hour, even whilst on their death bed. The aim of this book is to summarize their lives and explain (by reference to quotations from their writings) why they entered the Catholic Church.” (from

JOHN BEAUMONT, Jewish Converts

STANLEY L. JAKI, Sigrid Undset’s Quest for Truth

Sigrid Undset is often spoken of as the greatest novelist of the twentieth century. She, the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928, may also be one of the greatest converts during the same century. Contrary to the cliché, Sigrid Undset did not convert because of her fondness for the Middle Ages. In this age of one-parent families and “partner” relationships, it may be most instructive to recall that she converted because her disastrous marriage opened her eyes to what it means for a woman to be a mother and to what children really are, beings created by God for an eternal destiny. That meaning Sigrid Undset found to be anchored in the reality of the Catholic Church insofar as its Founder, Jesus Christ, was truly the Son of God. She then became a staunch defender of the Catholic faith through many essays that have been neglected by her literary critics, most of whom judged her on the basis of her novels, while largely ignoring their true gist. Those essays convey with particular force Sigrid Undset’s quest for Truth and her holding fast to it, once she had embraced it with great joy. The book contains the text of Sigrid Undset’s two pivotal essays, not previously available in English, Efterskrift (Postscript), translated by Marianne Aga, and My reasons to convert, translated by Fr. John H. Halborg.” (from


SIGRID UNDSET, Through Moral Crises to Catholicism

“This booklet contains the text of the reply which Sigrid Undset (1882-1949), a Nobel Laurate novelist, sent, shortly after she received the Prize in 1927, to a Catholic priest in Oslo. By then Sigrid Undset had been a Catholic for three years and an active member of the little Catholic community in Norway, or rather, in Oslo. The priest wanted to know why Sigrid Undset referred time and again to marriage as a sacrament, although it was a mere contract for Protestants and even more so to wholly secularized Norwegians. Her reply is a masterpiece in theology and moral philosophy, but written with an immediacy characteristic of a great novelist, who could have easily become one of the outstanding Catholic apologists of the twentieth century. First published in the Norwegian Catholic periodical Credo, the Reply to a parish priest first appeared in English translation in 1934 in Stages on the Road, a collection of her essays on the Catholic past, and remained buried in that collection, although it would have deserved to be put in wide circulation in a pamphlet form. In the Introduction Fr. Stanley L. Jaki gives also an account of Sigrid Undset’s life as being the essential background of her great literary and apologetic activity and shows why the Reply to a paris priest should have been given the title, Through moral crises to Catholicism.” (from


KARL STERN, The Pillar of Fire

“I first read The Pillar of Fire shortly after it was first published, back in the Fifties. I did not see then its true value in full, perhaps because true values were still in honor at that time. When browsing in a crummy bookstore in late May of 2000 I spotted an almost pristine paperback copy, I did not suspect that I would spend much of the next night reading. I immediately decided to bring it out in the Real View Books Reprints series. Through a chance remark of mine I learned that the association “Remnant of Israel” had already decided on its republication. In writing this Introduction my sole purpose was to call attention to points in this book that will keep it a pillar of fire for those to whom Karl Stern intended it: for Jews to understand his conversion or rather to understand through it something supremely important to them; and for Catholics that they may see beneath fashionable platitudes of Judeo-Christian phraseology what truly makes Jews their brothers. To Bernard Nathanson the reading of The Pillar of Fire was like being touched “by the hand of God.” May Karl Stern’s classic continue, through this edition, its God-given mission.” (from the Introduction by Stanley L. Jaki:


HENRY WILBERFORCE  Why I Became a Catholic

“Henry, an Anglican clergyman, converted to Catholicism in 1850. He was followed into the Church by two brothers of his, Robert Isaac and William. All three owed their conversion to Newman’s influence. The shock produced in England by Henry’s conversion was enormous. Then and there the Church of England meant England, almost the entire British Empire. To leave it, and to leave it for Rome, bordered on treason. On hearing of rumors that he had not been honest with his parishioners while ministering to them, Henry decided to set matters straight. As he explains in this book, he became a Catholic in order to possess in their full logic and without any trace of error all the truths he had held and preached while an Anglican. The book ends on a truly dramatic note.” (from

AIDAN NICHOLS, The Realm. An Unfashionable Essay on the Conversion of England

JOHN MC CLOSKEY and RUSSELL SHAW, Good News, Bad News. Evangelization, Conversion, and The Crisis of Faith.

Father McCloskey ran the Catholic Information Center in the heart of Washington, DC from 1998 to 2004 and instructed prominent  personalities in the Catholic Faith including Senator Sam Brownback, publisher Alfred Regnery, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, journalist Robert Novak.

ALESSANDRA BORGHESE, Sete di Dio, Piemme, 2006.

JANNE  HAALAND MATLARY, Faith Through Reason, Gracewing, 2006.

JOSEPH PEARCE, Literary Converts, 2006

LORENE HANLEY DUQUIN, A Century of Catholic Converts, 2003.

AIDAN NICHOLS, O.P., Christendom Awake: On Re-energizing the Church in Culture

HILAIRE BELLOC, Essays of a Catholic

BEAUMONT, The Catholic Church and Conversion

Frédéric Gugelot, La Conversion des intellectuels au catholicisme en France (1885-1935).

Fulton J. Sheen, Treasure in Clay