Sunday, October 8, 2023


By Tim Rohr

The 2023 Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to the Norwegian author and playwright, Jon Fosse. 

I had never heard of him until I came across a story about his conversion from atheism to Catholicism and how he was converted by his own writing.

His story struck me because it is amazingly similar to that of another Norwegian atheist convert to Catholicism and Nobel Prize winner, Sigrid Undset, who was awarded the same Nobel Prize for Literature almost a century ago (1928), and who similarly caused her own conversion through what she wrote.

On a more personal level, there is the recent conversion of a young man of Norwegian descent, I'll call him "Mark." As I was close friends with his father, I had known Mark since he was a little boy and I knew he had no religious upbringing. So when he messaged me to tell me of his conversion to Catholicism a few months ago, I was surprised, not just to hear of his conversion, but that he thought to tell me of it when I can't remember ever even speaking to him other than to acknowledge his presence when I was visiting his father.

And then there was Bill (not his real name). Bill was the most rabid anti-Catholic I had ever known. Whenever anything Catholic came up in our conversations Bill would visibly shudder and shake with anger. Conversely, I was probably the most Catholic person Bill had ever known. Amazingly, Bill and I were friends and remained so, even after Bill had long left Guam and our communications dropped to an occasional call or message.

A few years ago, Bill gave me a call. He was transiting through Guam from the Philippines, had a few hours at the airport, and asked me to meet him at 4:am. And so I did. It would be the last time I would see Bill in the flesh. Bill was dying of cancer. But before he died Bill wanted to tell me that he was in the process of converting to Catholicism and was happier than he had ever been in his life. 

Two days before Bill died, he called me. Bill wanted to thank me for helping him to become Catholic - even though I had never done anything to overtly convert him. Bill had cancer of the throat and nasal cavity so I could barely understand him. Bill said "I'm dying, Tim." I could only assure him that he would die in the arms of Jesus and Mary and he found comfort in that - even though, in his anti-Catholic days, Bill had absolutely hated Mary. Mary was Bill's biggest obstacle to Catholicism. Ironically, other than his friendship with me, Bill would credit his conversion to a radio station: "Immaculate Heart Radio."

A few days later, I saw posts by Bill's daughter announcing his death. 

There are many more stories of quiet conversions, be they famous people or personal friends and acquaintances who feel no need to announce their conversions and are just internally happy to "be home."

The amazing thing, at least to me, is that these conversions are happening in the midst of what is probably the worst Catholic Church environment in a thousand years: the clergy sex abuse scandals, a pope who seems determined to get rid of anything that even smells of traditional Catholicism, and the watering down - if not wholesale destruction - of authentic Catholic teaching. 

But that's how the Holy Spirit works. And it's why I have no fear of Francis or the wolves and neither should you. Keep pursuing holiness - quietly. Offer every trial up to Jesus on the Cross. The Holy Spirit will take care of the rest.


I am adding the following after having gone to Mass this morning (10/8/23). It's from the second reading:

Reading 2 Phil 4:6-9

Brothers and sisters:
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.


  1. Beautiful thanks for sharing. God is good!!

  2. Thanks for sharing your insight.