Can I skip Mass to visit with family?

I traveled to San Diego this past weekend with my wife who is not Catholic and our toddler. My parents, two brothers, and in-laws live in San Diego. We see our family in San Diego at most twice a year. On Saturday night we all went to a baseball game for a family outing. On Sunday morning I played golf with my brother and my father and drove by a local church but Mass was over; we finished golfing at 11:30 or so. Sunday evening was not good either as I had to go to dinner with in-laws who are not Catholic.

Nobody is a practicing Catholic in my family except me. I feel bad I did not make Mass but know I would feel bad if I missed spending time with family or skipped dinner with my in-laws. Do I need to go to confession?

Well, let’s see: You visit San Diego on a twice-yearly basis and have family who live in the city. You managed to make time not only to visit family but also to go to a baseball game and to go golfing. In other words, you are not unfamiliar with the city and you are very capable at getting to places where you can have fun in addition to your family duties, but you could not find time to go to Mass for one hour. At the very least, you did not plan to observe your Catholic duties with nearly the care that you expended in observing your family duties. At most, you gave higher importance to personal pleasure than you did to our Lord.

I cannot decide for you your personal culpability in this. Only you can do that. I can only say that it is possible to visit family in a distant city while still observing your Sunday/holy day obligation. In fact, it could set a good example for your family if you enlist them in helping you find a Mass you can attend while in town.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit