Dot Lombardi’s journey to Orthodoxy spans just over half a century, 52 years to be exact. Having been raised as a Lutheran, Dot’s early Christian influence came from her choir director mom (who inspired Dot’s love of all kinds of church music) and a Congregational dad who was somewhat ambivalent about the Lutheran Church.
Her parents’ eventual separation and divorce would lead Dot on a self-described “whirlwind tour” of traditional and non-traditional Christian churches and organizations including Evangelical Lutheran, Baptist, charismatic, Pentecostal, southern tent revivals and other factions. In spite of her exposure to various Christian faiths, none of them could relieve her of the intense feelings of anger, sadness, resentment and guilt after her parents’ divorce. Family members would try to introduce her to the Roman Catholic Church but this only added to her confusion and she would go on to tune God out, as so many young people do.
By 1978, when she was in junior college, Dot was fortunate to have met a young lady from Germany who was likewise disillusioned with the Lutheran faith that she grew up with. Together with her housemate, Dot became a Catholic and would remain one for the next 29 years. During those years, Dot joined the Army, traveled, married and had children. As she grew spiritually, however, she began to question certain doctrines of the Catholic Church such as papal infallibility, purgatory, indulgences and the virgin birth. Counseling with the parish priest and others yielded no satisfactory answers.
In the summer of 2006, Dot and her husband decided to visit a Mediterranean Festival that was hosted by a local Orthodox Church. Dot’s knowledge of Orthodoxy was limited to what she had read about Russian Orthodoxy and a movie about a Greek wedding. She eagerly participated in a tour of the church and was immediately struck by the icons, ornately decorated altar and the strong sense of God’s presence in the church. She was also surprised to discover a blonde haired Scandinavian priest who graciously answered all of her questions in a far more engaging manner than the detached manner of former priests.
She and her husband discussed attending a Liturgy one Sunday but due to the distant location of the church, a visit was tabled for the time being. In 2007, that visit would become more desirable when the Catholic Church announced the closures of under-performing churches, including three in Dot’s neck of the woods. While her husband was willing to settle for either of the two remaining churches, Dot wasn’t and so, by 2009, she attended her first Divine Liturgy at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church.
Despite being lost in following the Service book, Dot found herself totally immersed in the service that engaged all of her senses. When the priest asked congregants to open their Bibles for the Gospel of the day, Dot knew that she had found her new church home. She now feels the hand of God in her Orthodox faith more than ever before.