A suggestion from a friend paid off for Patti Hotton, whose spiritual odyssey will take its latest turn at the Easter Vigil when she joins the Catholic Church at St. Francis de Sales in Salisbury, Md.
Hotton said she and two friends, one of whom is Catholic, would get together frequently, and religion was one of the topics that came up continually. Hotton and her non-Catholic friend would do most of the talking, with the Catholic friend mostly observing. One day, the Catholic friend told Hotton she should check out Bishop Robert Barron on YouTube if she wanted to learn more about the faith.
“And that was the start of it,” Hotton said recently. “I was drawn back to God.”
Hotton grew up in Great Falls, Mont., and Minneapolis. She also spent a lot of summers in North Dakota. She said her mother was Southern Baptist, and her father attended an evangelical church. That didn’t really rub off on her.
“I would go to church occasionally. I had an experience of being saved as a teenager, but nothing came of it,” she said.
She joined the military in 1975, and in the early ’80s, she joined the Southern Baptists and was baptized. She and her husband were stationed in Las Vegas and attended a church there. She grew disillusioned with her church and stopped going.
Hotton, 68, said after that, she would describe herself as agnostic or atheistic. She tried reading the Bible, but after a while she would grow frustrated because no one could explain it to her. She said it was kind of a dark period in her life.
Hotton worked in law enforcement for her first eight years in the military, then was a paralegal for the other 11. Her husband was from Salisbury, and the couple moved to the Eastern Shore in 1995. That led to the friendships that would, a quarter-century later, lead her to the Catholic Church. Hotton started watching Bishop Barron on YouTube, and she listened to the podcast “The Bible in a Year,” which is hosted by Father Mike Schmitz, a priest of the Diocese of Duluth, Minn. She said Bishop Barron spoke to her on a personal level and explained the things she had questions about.
“One day I thought about asking my friend about going to church with her, which I never did, but I decided to check out the Catholic Church. God found me and brought me back to him,” Hotton said.
She entered the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults last fall and has been a regular at St. Francis de Sales since. Throughout the process, she has had questions, “like all the Protestants who don’t know anything about the Catholic Church. I had those kinds of questions.” They involved the role of the Blessed Mother, the concept of saints, and the Real Presence. All, she said, have been answered.
“I’m looking forward to becoming a member,” she said.
She works as a receptionist at a local business, and in her spare time likes to read, especially historical mysteries. She looks forward to getting involved in different activities at the parish. She was invited to join the bell ringers at Holy Redeemer Church in nearby Delmar, a mission of St. Francis de Sales. And although she can be found primarily at St. Francis de Sales, she will be heading to Holt Redeemer regularly.
“It’s so intimate and light and peaceful. I would like to go there maybe two Saturdays a month,” she said.