Robert Brode is 71-years-old, but he just made one of the best decisions of his life, he said. The Santa Clarita resident just became a member of the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church on April 15.

“It took me 70 years to get there,” he laughed, but “I came to the conclusion that this is what I needed to do.” He added, “I was searching for something that would get me to the right place with the right people.”

He’s had 10 heart attacks, suffered the loss of his first wife and the loss of their daughter, but said he still believes “God is good to me.”

“I believe in God and I believe he doesn’t give you more than you can handle,” he said. “He has your best interest in mind. You just have to trust him.”

About his initial RCIA meeting, Brode said, “I can’t explain how much at home I felt. It was like God was nodding his head saying, ‘Yes, you belong here.’ And that’s what I felt. I was coming home.”

He’s been remarried for 25 years, and his wife was taken by surprise when he told her he was becoming Catholic. She had always assumed he was a nonpracticing Catholic because he seemed to be so familiar with Catholic prayers and traditions.

Brode was first introduced to the Faith when a former girlfriend took him to Mass back before Vatican II. The Mass was in Latin and Brode was impressed. “It was kind of awesome,” he recalled.

Still, he never committed to any religion even though his first wife was Catholic. He had researched and studied different belief systems, but said that nothing seemed to satisfy him.

Eventually, however, Brode began to find the argument for Catholicism more and more convincing. He said the historical documents that trace the Church’s heritage back more than 2,000 years to Jesus Christ, the unchanging doctrine and the impact of Christ’s teachings are the reasons that coalesced and convinced him to be baptized.

Brode admitted that he did stumble a little over the doctrine of transubstantiation, but found the other matters of faith easier to accept.

For his confirmation saint he decided on St. Michael the Archangel, the patron saint of those in the military, since Brode was in the military for 10 years before joining the police force for 28 years. At the moment, he is practicing law and teaching at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita.

His experience during the Easter Vigil can best be described with the word “blessed,” he said. Before he received Holy Communion for the first time, he remembers thinking, “What a journey to get to this point.”

Brode said he’s noticed a difference in himself since his reception into the Church. “I’m so much more willing to accept people for who they are. I’m less judgmental.” He added, “Religion gives you a moral compass. It seemed to put everything into perspective.”

After the celebration, those who had received the sacraments took a photo together, which for Bode felt more like a family photo. If anyone has an interest in becoming Catholic, “I’d give them two thumbs up,” he said.

In all his years of living, Brode said his only regret “is not becoming a Catholic earlier.”