Catholic convert shares story with students, talks about eucharistic miracles

Anne Marie Amacher
Guest speaker Keith Nester talks to students about eucharistic miracles at Assumption High School in Davenport on March 22.

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — Keith Nester, a former Protestant minister who converted to Catholicism, shared his story and his appreciation for eucharistic miracles with students at Assumption High School on March 22.

Greg Hansen, a member of Holy Family Parish in Davenport, introduced Nester, with whom he has developed a friendship through Nester’s journey to the Catholic Church. Nester told the teenagers, “I grew up going to church. My dad was a pastor. We thought Catholics were pretty whacky. We didn’t agree with things they did.”

He said many mainline Protestants view the Eucharist as a symbol of Jesus. Some believe in a “spiritual presence,” sensing that something happens in the Eucharist. Catholics “believe in the real presence,” transubstantiation. “It’s a hard thing to explain,” Nester said. While the consecrated Eucharist still looks like bread and wine, it is the body and blood of Christ, which is a difficult concept to grasp, he added.


Following the story of his conversion, he talked about eucharistic miracles and showed a video on a eucharistic miracle in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1996. After Mass on Aug. 18 that year, a host was found discarded in the church. The pastor placed the host in a receptacle with water to follow proper protocol for disposal. On Aug. 26, the priest found that the host had not dissolved. It had grown in size and appeared to contain a “bloody substance.”

Then-Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, asked that photos be taken. Later, scientists examined a sample but had not been told it was a host. They identified the sample as a heart muscle from the left ventricle. Another sample from a separate eucharistic miracle elsewhere produced the same results, according to the video.

Nester asked the students, “What does science tell you? What does God tell you? You might believe. You might find the results interesting. You might reject it. Most people ignore it. Why should you care?  God is real and he is here for you. His promises are true.” He gave the students three tasks: spend one hour weekly in adoration, listen to or read the Bible and “ask God to show his will to you.”

Hansen shared information about Italian teenager Carlo Acutis who at age 11 began to investigate eucharistic miracles. He documented countless miracles over the next three years and created a website with the information he found before he died of cancer at age 15.

Assumption High School Principal Bridget Murphy said the school has a first-class relic of Carlo Acutis. “Don’t let today’s message go in one ear and out the other,” she said. “God is placing all these things before you.”

She told the students about several display panels featuring eucharistic miracles that the St. Serra Club and Bill Barrett, an Assumption graduate, are making available for Scott County Catholic schools. “The ideas for these boards were created by Carlos himself. There are 152 eucharistic miracles. Take time to read them.” The panels will rotate between Assumption and the feeder schools of Lourdes in Bettendorf, All Saints, John F. Kennedy and St. Paul the Apostle schools in Davenport.

Senior Charlie Leinart said, “Keith Nester’s talk was very engaging and energetic. After hearing his talk there is no denying the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.” Another senior, Cecilia Booth, said, “I was impressed that he came to our school to teach about a lot of new things that were both inspiring and challenging. … Grow in your faith and knowledge,” she added.

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