Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 4, 2009
Catholic faith filled Donut Man's heart
Four evangelical congregations split, prompting Rob Evans to turn to the peace of the Catholic Church
WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Children's entertainer Rob Evans uses Duncan the puppet to show children how faith fills that hole in our hearts.
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
SHERWOOD PARK — Rob Evans, the Donut Man, might still be a Protestant but he doesn’t protest anymore. In fact, he is a happy Catholic, in love with Jesus, the Church and the sacraments.
As he has put it, “To be Catholic is to experience authentic freedom to live, to love at extraordinary levels, and to learn the ways of the Master — the way that leads to the sanctification that we’re all called to.”
A Catholic for the past three years, Evans, 55, is a children’s entertainer and a self-described Donut Repair-man who knows that life without Jesus is like a donut — “there is a hole in the middle of our heart.”
DUNCAN THE PUPPET
He uses Bible-based stories and Christian songs to fill the empty place in our hearts and, together with his famous puppet, Duncan — a donut — shows children how to literally repair the hole in a donut.
On April 26 he had nearly 300 children and their parents singing, clapping, jumping and screaming in the hall of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish for over an hour. His enthusiasm had even the not-so-young excited.
The concert, put on by the parish’s Young Disciples children’s ministry, showed that Evans has the cure for hollow hearts.
The event was part of a full day of entertainment that began with a potluck breakfast followed by Evans’ sharing the story of his conversion to the Catholic Church after more than 30 years as an evangelical Protestant.
Evans and his wife Shelley left their church in early 2005 after it split, the fourth church split they had witnessed in 35 years. Being a child of divorce, he could not take another split.
Yearning for more, he and his wife simply started attending Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, near their home in Brant Beach, N.J., a few weeks before Easter 2005. They were received into the fullness of the Catholic faith at the Easter Vigil 2006. They now live in Philadelphia.
HOMILY MADE SENSE
“I had been told that Catholics don’t read the Bible and the Mass started out with a Bible parade,” he said of the processional during his talk. “The Bible was used throughout the Mass and, by the way, the homily made sense. It was short and was good and it had to do with what we had just read. Wow!”
Evans was impressed by the fact everybody knelt during the breaking of the bread.
“It got really quiet and then the priest lifted it up and said, ‘This is the body of Christ,’ and the sun shined through the stained-glass windows on him as he broke the bread. And I looked at my wife and she looked at me and we went, ‘Wow!’
“We walked out of our first Mass with real peace.”
Evans described himself as a Jesus person who claps and dances like a cheerleader at Jesus’ name every chance he gets.
“We went to churches that didn’t have a cross, didn’t have an altar; they had a band,” he told his audience. “We had overhead projectors and the Bible and so I was used to fireworks. I wasn’t used to peace.”
Evans and his wife were hooked and came back every day for Mass, even though he still had a shopping list of accusations against the Catholic Church — “because I had been very well taught.”
“I came from an aspect of Protestantism that was very anti-Catholic and my wife was even more anti-Catholic,” he said.
“Part of being a Protestant is ignoring certain Catholic things you take for granted every day, like the sacraments. Can you imagine being in a Church where Baptism is just symbolic?” he asked.
After his last church split, Evans had a confrontation with the pastor over some of the pastor’s sermons and ended up being kicked out of the church.
“The preacher kept preaching against the wickedness of wine and I felt that I was obligated to go to him and say wine is no more the problem than money or sex is the problem.
“In other words the problem isn’t wine; it’s drunkenness. The problem isn’t sex; it’s adultery. The problem isn’t money; it’s greed.”
With no church to go to, Evans felt orphaned. “This was our family church. We had just moved from Nashville to go to this church. And we’d been through four other church splits. In 35 years as a Protestant the protest is still alive and well. It is. We had been in eight churches; four folded over doctrinal and moral issues.”
As a child of divorce, that killed Evans. “My mother is in her fourth marriage. My wife’s mother is in her third marriage. We are children of divorce.
“Our hearts were devastated when our parents divorced and the pain of that is the best analogy I can give you for how we felt when we went through church splits. Your community is divided; your family is divided.”
He tried to find a Calvary chapel bishop in order to appeal his expulsion but found out that Calvary chapels are privately owned. “The husband and the wife bought the church building; it was their church,” he noted.
“It’s crazy that as I began to really get into the real ethical issues and I looked for a place to appeal there was none. What I was running up against was there was no magisterium.”
Full of despair, Evans began searching for “a family that wouldn’t kick us out.” That’s how he and his wife discovered the Catholic Church.
“Needless to say, when we received our First Communion I was a basket case,” Evans recalled.
“I cried and cried and cried. I was just so relieved to find Jesus Christ, the groom. I’ve always known him to be the groom, but he has a very healthy bride, his Church, to whom he has entrusted this incredible treasure, the sacraments of grace.”
There is a reason why there is a unity and a connection that has been sustained in the Catholic Church, Evans asserted.
“As a Protestant I gave up on ever having a Church on earth. There is no earthly unity; the only forever family that I will ever experience is in heaven because there is no earthly church.
“That’s exactly what we hold out as Catholics — there is a Church, there is a unity, there is a peace. We have the Word and we read the Word and we eat the Word.”