A Blackhawk Helicopter. Wikimedia Commons

An Intensity I had never Seen Before

She’s a Navy Lieutenant and a Black Hawk pilot. At the Encounter, she coordinated volunteers. Carie Boothe tells the story of how she encountered first, faith, and later, the Movement.

Lieutenant Boothe, a member of the U.S. Navy, was born in Oregon and today lives in Jacksonville, Florida. She flies Black Hawk helicopters, like those featured in the Ridley Scott film. This summer, she’ll be deployed for a surveillance mission in the Persian Gulf. At 27 years, Lieutenant Carie Boothe is still a young woman, with long hair and a bright smile. She helped coordinate volunteers at this year’s New York Encounter. She tells us about how she converted to Catholicism and how she met the Movement. What she says about her School of Community and American Catholicism is interesting from a girl who has a clear understanding of the word battle: “For the majority of Catholics, life is a constant battle between what the Church thinks and what the world thinks. And you have to fight, darlin’, because the world is there, ready to cut you down. But School of Community isn’t like that: everything that happens is a help.That’s why I keep going.”

She met the Church through John, a friend from flight school. “I’d never met anyone so interested in life,” she says about him. On Sunday mornings, he’d come to her house, she’d make breakfast, he played the guitar, they studied and talked about planes, life, and the Church. They started to exchange books. “He lent me the autobiography of Thomas Merton, and I was reading Dante, Thomas Aquinas, Augustine. They were all people who’d had experiences similar to mine and were able to describe them in an extraordinary way. And I couldn’t believe they were all Catholic! I asked myself: could they all just be rogue Catholics?” She wanted to find out and asked John to lend her the Catechism. She read it cover to cover. “When I finished it, I started going to Mass. Nine months later, I became Catholic.”

She went through RCIA in Pensacola, Florida, where she met Fr. Richard. “A month before my Confirmation [she was baptized as an infant], I had a two-hour flight with an instructor. He was a Calvinist and we ended up talking about the question of predestination.Instead of two hours, we flew for four hours talking about it. When I got out of the helicopter, I understood that that theory made no sense for my life, but I still wasn’t clear on what my freedom really was and how it worked. So I went to see Fr. Richard and we talked a long time. At the end he said to me, ‘We have a group of friends that meets on Mondays, do you want to come?’” It was the Pensacola School of Community group. Two girls and three priests.The first time she went, Carie, who loves to talk, didn’t manage to say a single word. “What was happening was much more than what I ever could have imagined. After the meeting, we went to dinner and I saw how those people were interested in each person’s life, even mine… It was an intensity of life that I’d never seen before. After that, I never stopped going.”