I WAS WEANED on the "Free Thinkers" school of thought. Father, a Cambridge professor, had been brought up as a Low Church Anglican but as an adult discussed Christianity only in the hopes of disproving it.
His pupils were drawn from all denominations and all faiths. To a young child they were all kindly uncles, but one thing stood out — the Catholics, usually South Americans, had fewer worries. They used to laugh more and would always say: "We can always go to our priest."
Mother came from along line of Freemasons and was always warned by her aunt "the Jesuits will get you." In the end she took up Christian Science.
I used to wonder what made Catholics so different, and at the age of seven made an expedition to the bottom of the garden in the hope of finding a Jesuit lurking under a toadstool, My ignorance of the Catholic Church was remedied when my father decided to defy the conventions of his fellowacademies and send his daughter to a Catholic convent.
He planned to undermine the whole establishment by defeating the nuns in argument one by one. He was taken aback by the nuns' reactions.
They did not go on the defensive when he tried to be provocative and made it clear that they had only the interests of their pupils' welfare at heart.
My father tried to criticise the Scripture lessons but finally gave up. In the end he was converted to the idea of convent education and would boast to his colleagues that it turned out girls who were "intelligent and equipped for life".
When we nioved away from Cambridge I had to leave my school. I was so impressed by the nuns (with whom I have kept in contact for the last 45 years) that I insisted that my next schools should be convents.
I decided to become an actress, and was assured by several relations that I would end up with a low moral character. I met many Catholics in the acting profession.
In search of the "extra something" which Catholics had, I met their priests and went to Mass with them. My relations shook their heads and said: "You were doomed from the moment your silly father sent you to a convent."
In my twenties I was still looking for a religion. I cape rimented with Hligh Anglicanism. It had all the ritual and did not entail having to admit having changed my denominational allegiance, But It was not an answer to my questions.
Not more than a few years ago my husband and I went to the local Catholic priest and explained our dilemma to him. He suggested that we should attend his church and then decide whether we wanted further instruction.
To my amazement all my queries of the past years suddenly seemed answered. could answer my relatives' questions not because I had glib answers but because my whole outlook seemed enlarged.
If only cradle Catholics realised how fortunate they were! We converts have to make up for all those years. Although it may sound emotional I feel I have found myself, enriched my life and found my true identity at last.