For Hartman, conversion has been a life-long experience
By John Stegeman
The Catholic Telegraph
Greg Hartman was always raised to have a relationship with Christ, but a seed planted at a Catholic wedding when he was just 10-years-old would lead to a lifetime of conversion.
Hartman, circulation manager of The Catholic Telegraph, is the son of Harold and Loretta Hartman. During his youth, Harold was a non-practicing Catholic and Loretta was protestant. Greg Hartman’s early church attendance took place at the United Methodist Church on Colerain Avenue in Cincinnati.
At the age of 10, Hartman attended the wedding of a man who would later become his godfather at St. Clement in St. Bernard.
“Something happened at that wedding and I don’t know what it was,” Hartman said. “Christ had always been somebody that I talk to. I’ve never had that issue… Having the Eucharist and having Christ there made a big difference. This is real. That’s the biggest thing…I just remember for whatever reason I felt like I was at home.
“There’s something about structure that hit me,” he added. “I’m a person that needs structure obviously. I think it is the structure of the church, not the building, but the structure of the Mass.”
That experience, and the support of both parents, led a young Hartman to take lessons and become Catholic at the age of 14. Years later, his mother would follow his conversion and his father returned to practice of the faith as well.
After his conversion, the former public school student Hartman would attend LaSalle High School, becoming immersed in Catholic life.
“I could go to Mass during the day at lunch,” Hartman said. “It was nice to have school start with prayer. Each class we’d always pray to St. John Baptist de la Salle…. It put my feet on the journey if you will.”
If his conversion was the beginning of his faith journey, Hartman’s experience with Crusillo marked a milestone of its growth. Hartman explained that his Crusillo retreat reinforced his faith and “put it in a clear picture.”
Hartman acknowledged his development in the faith has been up and down throughout his life.
“There have been some struggles at times,” he said. “Probably for a while I was mad at the Church, probably more for my failings than anything else. So I ran in a way. I didn’t want to face my failings and fell in the trap of comparing my failing with others.”
Six years ago Hartman was sitting at Midnight Mass for Christmas when he finally had to make a decision.
“Either I’m going to be Catholic or I’m not,” he said to himself. “I decided to be Catholic. Hopefully I’ll stay on the journey for the rest of my life however long that lasts.”
Becoming and living a Catholic life has affected Hartman’s relationships in a positive way. An only child, Hartman helps care for his parents and relies on his faith in Christ to get through challenging patches.
“I have a father right now dealing with a lot of physical pain and a mother with Alzheimer’s,” he said. “There are days where I think it is my faith only that gets me through some of that. It is hard to see it and sometimes I don’t understand it.”
Hartman, who attends daily Mass at St. Louis church in downtown Cincinnati, suggests Catholics look to the Mass if they’re seeking to grow in their own faith.
“I would challenge them to get excited about Mass,” he said. “If you’re a football or baseball fan and you have a fantasy league, you really get into the stats and find out what’s going on. I think it’s also important to prepare for Mass Sunday by reading the readings before and afterwards.”
Converting at 14, growing in faith along the way and recommitting to his Catholicism six years ago, Hartman said it is important to remember conversion isn’t a one-time thing.
“Conversion doesn’t happen just on one day.” he said. “It is an ongoing conversion. Everyday, hopefully, we shed something and we get closer to where we need to be with God.”
All of us are on a journey to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. “My Journey” is a recurring feature of “Contagiously Catholic”, a monthly supplement to The Catholic Telegraph produced by the Office of the New Evangelization to tell the stories of Catholics continuing on a path to communion with Christ.
This “My Journey” feature originally appeared in the February 2015 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph. Story by John Stegeman.