Can I return to the Church?

I’m not sure if this is the right forum to post this… moderators, please feel free to move it around if necessary. :slight_smile:
My situation is as follows. I am a Dutch citizen but currently living in Canada. I was born and raised Catholic, and received the three initialization sacraments, although my parents weren’t exactly faithful church-goers. When I was twelve my dad left my mom who lost her faith and abandoned the church altogether. She was never the same and she died of cancer the day after my twentieth birthday. She had a Catholic mass and was buried near the church were she got baptized, confirmed, went to communion and got married. I never went back to church after that, although a part of me always yearned to.
Fast forward to five years ago when I married my Canadian husband in the Presbyterian church (he was raised Presbyterian in theory but his parents never even had him baptized) in Canada. I have never lost faith in God, but I had no church home. For the past few months I have felt the Mother Church “tugging at my heart strings” so to speak, it’s like she’s calling me home. We have two little girls, a one year old and an almost four year old. The oldest is starting Catholic school in the fall, on a non-Catholic request.
I would like to have them baptized in the Catholic church, and I would like to return. Here’s the thing though: I have no baptismal records or any other records. I don’t know if they even give those out in Holland, or if they got lost after my mom passed away twenty years ago. I don’t know if the Catholic Church in Canada works the same way as in Holland. (Does that sound silly?) I do know that in Holland confession is almost non-existent, I believe only about 4 percent of Catholics regularly go to confession, and I have never been. I don’t know how to go about this. I know my marriage is invalid in the eyes of the Church, and that bothers me greatly. I don’t know if my lack of records means that I will be seen as a non-Catholic. And I don’t know if I can just step into the Church at some point and start attending mass. I do know that I can’t partake of the Eucharist because I have not been to confession and one cannot receive a sacrament in a state of mortal sin. And of course there is the tiny matter of the dozens, and more likely hundreds, of sins that I have committed in the 27 years since my family stopped going to church.
I realize this is mostly a bunch of ramblings… I don’t know where to go from here, what my next step should be. I think what I need most is confirmation that yes, I can return and my babies will be welcome and my marriage can somehow be validated. What do you all think? Is it possible? I would be grateful for any and all input, I feel lost and confused.Thank you in advance!

Hello Iris,


There are many questions in your question --but rest assured. Jesus Christ loves you and all your little ones…

I would find a good Catholic Priest (parish near you…) and talk with him about all your questions. Of course first off - turn to Christ and tell him you love him and make a
"act of contrition" out of love for him and intend to get to confession as soon as you can (you would need to talk with the Priest and work out having the marriage become valid first --which should be easy from what you say…and talk to him about living as brother and sister until then --cause you may be able to return to the Sacraments earlier then :slight_smile:

Of course start going to Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation Masses – you can make a “spiritual communion” by prayer at Mass until you can receive again…

Being a Christian is such a joy!! I am very happy you are returning to the Church.

Do not worry too much about the paperwork – the Church knows how to work these things out…do not worry! But draw near to Christ in his Church.

His Heart if full of great love for you and yours!

Here is a great quote from Pope Benedict:

“Happy are you who believe!” (cf 1 Peter 2:7). Let us turn to Jesus! He alone is the way that leads to eternal happiness, the truth who satisfies the deepest longings of every heart, and the life who brings ever new joy and hope, to us and to our world." Homily at Yankee Stadium by Pope Benedict XVI

In Christ


Hello again…I also sent you a private message with the Phone a woman in your area that could be of help in making those contacts…

Yes, you can return to the Church.
Yes, your children can be baptized and be raised Catholic.
Yes, your marriage can be validated.

I would recommend simply walking into a Catholic church and talking with a priest, he’ll know how to get the ball rolling. Or call your diocese office.
Remember to discuss this openly and honestly with your husband and get him involved if possible.

Welcome to the path home!

Yes, you can come Home!

You will need the assistance of a priest to help sort through all of this, but it is certainly doable.

Catholics are excellent record keepers, so even if your copies of the certificates have been lost, the church where you are baptized should still have a copy and be able to issue you another certificate. This is a place to start, because I think you will need it before your marriage is convalidated.

Don’t worry too much about the 4% who go to confession. Not sure the numbers are much higher in the US or Canada.

Welcome, welcome.

Certainly you may go to church- today, tomorrow, next Sunday.

I think many more than 4% :slight_smile: At least according to some of the LINES I have been in :slight_smile:

But contact the Priest…do not wait to find the paper work …the Church can take care of what is needed…and it may not even be needed if it can not be found…

Thank you for the replies! Kevin, thank you for the phone number, I have saved it to a document so I can get in touch with her. We have a Catholic church very nearby, it is the one that my daughter’s soon-to-be school is affiliated with. (I’m not sure that is the right word, someone please correct me if I have it wrong.)
My husband is in the loop, he is one of those people that claim to be “spiritual” but not “religious”, mostly because he despises organized religion, feeling that it always leads to people abusing the religion for their own selfish benefits. However, he is absolutely in agreement on having the girls baptized, and the other day he said that if for the girls to be allowed into Catholic school, it meant he would have to baptized in the Catholic church, he was willing to do that. I sort of laughed and said that baptism isn’t supposed to be a sacrifice, it is a blessing and a great gift, and besides, children can get into Catholic school without either of their parents actually being Catholic. I do appreciate his sentiment though.
Kevin, I meant to ask, what kind of act of contrition did you mean? Something like praying the rosary? Or something to do with charity?
Again, thank you all so much for your responses! It makes me feel a little less “lost”, if that makes sense. It seems rather daunting to just walk into the church and talk to the priest, I am afraid that he will look at me like I’m nuts, and then ask something along the lines of:"You don’t really think you can just waltz back in here and all will be well, now do you?"
Or worse, that he won’t care and will just give me a couple of forms to fill out and wish me a good day.

First off your husband would not need to be baptize Catholic if he was baptize in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit the Catholic church does recognize most Protestant baptisms. Look in the back of a misselette in church the Act of Contrition is a prayer that you usually can find in these books (said in confession and other times).
Many people do just waltz in and talk to priest on how to come back or convert. He will not think you are nuts but he might Jump for JOY and embarrass you a little.:slight_smile:

Hello again,

Do not worry about what the Priest may say etc…Most should …well be Priests :slight_smile: and be very loving and understanding. But of course they are just human and you may meet a tired one who was up in the middle of the night taking care of a dying person …or one that is just “humanly grumpy”. Though this is not normally the case…

But this is a good reason too to give that number a call – cause I am am sure she must know some in your area whom she could recommend you go see (again like every person on the planet --each Priest has his own personality etc…and his own background and learning and experience etc --so having someone to talk to about what Priest they know can be helpful on the human level…and it can give you confidence in walking to the door :)!! --)

As for an act of contrition: any will do. It is just saying Basically Jesus I love you and I am sorry for all my sins out of love for you and I intend to sin no more…etc. (of course venial sins --are something we can not without a very special grace get away from totally in life -and God knows that–but we need to intend to avoid Mortal sins…(even if we are weak and sin again …we still do not plan on it)

Here is the classic one:

Act of Contrition

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.

Here too is a good short Catechism: you can buy the paper back at a Catholic Store (Lorna prob. has one). It will be very helpful …and there are some prayers too at the end.

So continue turning your heart towards Christ and know that while it may be a step by step process to get all things in full order…the Holy Spirit is helping you …

And also remember that Priests have heard all these things before :slight_smile: And much worse!

With the Year of St. Paul just ending …here too is one of the Audiences of Pope Benedict XVI

And here is one of my favorite Homilies by him --it is fitting for you with all your plans towards Baptism for your Children (but it is for all of us!)

Also do not forget that first site I gave you…they have also a cool video that reminds me of your first email…

Have Faith in Jesus Christ the Lord --and “seek” and you shall find :slight_smile:


PS: I was a Baptist…and was received into full communion with the Catholic Church when I was 18…everything was a great JOY!

Though I was not a “good Baptist” …

Of course I had to with grace turn away from things that are not compatible with following Jesus – but this too brings in the end greater joy and peace.

“Happy are you who believe!” (cf 1 Peter 2:7). Let us turn to Jesus! He alone is the way that leads to eternal happiness, the truth who satisfies the deepest longings of every heart, and the life who brings ever new joy and hope, to us and to our world." Homily at Yankee Stadium by Pope Benedict XVI


Welcome Home! None of the issues you raise are insurmountable.

Talk to your Church pastor, and he will tell you the same thing.

The conditions to be met are a willingness to become reaquainted with what we belief, to acceot all beliefs and to put them into practice in your daily life and lifes of your children.

How does your husband feel about this? he would have to agree to raise the kids in the Catholic Church.

RCIA is strongly advised all though strictly speaking you will not be required as you are already from a Catholic perspective and member of the Church.

The priest will ask for wittnesses in lieu of documents if they cannot be obtained.

It is always a great idea to open the door and come it when Christ is knocking on your mind and hearts door.:slight_smile:

Best of everything. Let us know if we can be of further assistance,
Love and prayers,

Pat, I was born and raised in the Netherlands and I am now living in Canada. Producing witnesses is going to be a problem, since none of my relatives can afford to fly out here. :frowning: My husband is on board, but his knowledge of the Church is very, very limited, as is his knowledge of the Bible in general. I am hoping that as our kids get educated about the faith, he will too.
RCIA seems like a good idea for him as well as for me, but I am not sure if he is ready for that quite yet. We don’t go to church yet, I am trying to muster up the courage to step inside. It is hard, knowing the sins I have on my conscience.

Hello Snugglebugmom,

I am a revert and hubby is a convert. We attended Mass for a couple of weeks with our two youngest boys (teenagers at the time) before I made an appointment with a priest and made my confession. Then, I was so happy to finally be able to receive Holy Communion at Mass.
It was a few weeks before hubby was able to find an RCIA program, and he enjoyed it very much.

I would like to encourage you to began attending Mass. :slight_smile:
When you are ready, you can make an appointment with the priest for confession.
I will pray for you.


=Snugglebugmom;5498212]Pat, I was born and raised in the Netherlands and I am now living in Canada. Producing witnesses is going to be a problem, since none of my relatives can afford to fly out here. :frowning: My husband is on board, but his knowledge of the Church is very, very limited, as is his knowledge of the Bible in general. I am hoping that as our kids get educated about the faith, he will too.

RCIA seems like a good idea for him as well as for me, but I am not sure if he is ready for that quite yet. We don’t go to church yet, I am trying to muster up the courage to step inside. It is hard, knowing the sins I have on my conscience.

***Hi, and thanks for the update.

I can assure both of you RCIA is quite painless. The first period is simply getting aquainted with who and what the CC is. NO COMMITMENT is either expected or demanded. I have seen a number of folks drop out once they “knew” it was not the right time or the right decession. I do recommend it warmly;)

As for your relatives, all that would be required I believe is a letter addressed to you or your pastor that verifies that they were witness to XXX Sacrament, and the location and APPROXIMATE date, along with their contact iformation should additional information be required.

As for going to Mass. Keep what Jesus Himself had to say: ***

***Luke 15: 3 "So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” ***

I find such beauty and peace in knowing that this is true. And in 1 John Chapter 1:"*** 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. "***

Beleive me; there are NO NEW SINS. COnfession after a period of years is easier for both you and the priest, than having to Confess, say after a two week period. God, your priest and you will be estatic that your comming home.

I’ll keep you both in my prayers, let me know if I can answer any faith questions or what ever:)

Love and prayers,


Dear Snugglebugmom,

To echo a point made earlier–the parish where you were baptised will have a record of that as well as your confirmation and first communion. Obtaining a copy of it should be easy, as long as you remember the name and location of the parish you were raised in–just get in touch with them and ask them to send you a copy of your baptismal certificate.

Your marital situation, as you know, is going to need a bit of work. But, again, that shouldn’t be too difficult to manage. It would only be a difficult process if you or your spouse were married before (or attempted marriage). Anyway, whatever the case may be, in validating your marriage you will need your baptismal certificate.

Don’t be afraid of going into a church. You can take the publican as your model, if you want–remaining in the back of the church, simply saying “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.” Obviously, in order to “return to the Church” you’ll need to return to a church building. :slight_smile:


Welcome home Snugglebunmom. Please don’t worry about all these things. Saying you have too many sins to return to Church is like saying you’re too sick to see a doctor. The Church is a hospital for sinners. Anyone there who has forgotten that is probably guilty of the sin of pride. As for your baptismal record, if no records or witnesses can be found the priest will conditionaly baptise you. It’s not a problem.

Thank you, Pippin, that is very reassuring! All of your replies are heartwarming and very much appreciated. I am trudging along, DH has been expressing rather a lot of hostility towards the Church and that is really hard to bear. I applied for my baptismal record, but the administration of my church in Holland was on vacation so that might be a while. And to complicate matters, I was confirmed in a different church due to the fact that we moved when I was 10. I do realize that ultimately these are minor difficulties… Just technicalities really. I will find a way, with God’s help.

Snugglebugmom, I will be praying for you and your husband. My husband was raised baptist and later became very hostile toward organized relgion. I left the Catholic Church as a teenager. When I was being drawn back to the church, I kept praying for my husband. God answers prayers. He converted when I came back into the Church.

As for your baptismal records, the Church where you were confirmed may have a copy. You should write to them as well.


It sounds like you had a lot of questions and concerns about possible difficulties in returning to the Church… I’m no expert, so I can’t say how long it would take to get all of this sorted out, but I encourage you to “take heart!” The Spirit is moving you to return to Christ and His Church and I want to encourage you to persevere despite any difficulties you may encounter. It will all pay off in the end!

I will say some prayers for you. God bless.

Thank you, Benjamin, that is very sweet of you! Hubby is now open to going to mass sometimes soon, so that is promising! I still haven’t heard back about my baptismal record but even without that I figure I can at least start going to mass. I am looking forward to it!
Thanks again for all your encouragement and your prayers, everybody, it really helps!

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