Evangelization of fallen away Catholic mother

How should I evangelize my mother, given the following circumstances:

My mother was a cradle Catholic, confirmed in 7th grade, but has not been to Mass in 20 years. She still believes in God but thinks that since she is a good person she will go to heaven without ever praying or attending Mass.

I was never baptized but now in my thirties I am two weeks away from receiving the sacraments of initiation at Easter Vigil.

I can and will give more details as needed during the discussion, but I think this should suffice for now. I am very interested in your responses.

Three things I would do to start…

Invite her to attend the Easter Vigil. It should be quite an experience for someone who hasn’t been to Mass in years

The second would be to talk with her about how excited you are, how overwhelmed you are, or whatever else you are feeling right now. And then be open to what she may be feeling as well.

And the third thing is to pray for her.

Be the best Catholic you can be.
As said above, you can invite her to mass and other things.

Do you know why she stopped going to church? That might give you some insight into her spiritual life and also something to talk about…


She stopped going to church right after high school after moving out of the house. I have asked her about this but she just says that she just didn’t feel like going anymore. There was not and there is still not a fear or guilt of committing mortal sin, at least so far as I can tell.

Thanks for clarifying.
As I’m sure you know, this sort of, “falling away”, is not all that uncommon. In fact when I was your mom’s age, I would probably have given you the same answer that she has.

The great thing is that she is not “angry” at the Church, or turned her back on God. This will allow you two to talk, in more generalities at first, about faith, Jesus, the Gospels etc…about what drew you to the Church and so forth.
Living a good Catholic life, being able to talk with your mom and, of course, praying for her, may lead her back home to Holy Mother Church.

Is she coming to your initiation??


I have a similar situation with my mother, with one big difference - the impetus for her “falling away” was the granting of an annulment of my parents’ marriage against her will. :eek:

There is a great deal that is unfortunate about this situation. My mother is obviously responsible for her own decision to leave the Church, but I often wonder at how much of that responsibility is shared by my father (who sought the annulment) and the tribunal that granted it. Now my mother refuses to recognize any organized religion, though she still believes in God. She’s one of the “I can find God on a mountaintop” crowd. My wife and I have invited her to Mass when we go visit, but she always declines. To my knowledge, the only times she’s been inside a Catholic Church in the last couple of decades were for my brother’s wedding and my son’s Baptism.

Another side effect of this is that my sister, being the youngest of us when my parents divorced (we stayed with our mom), grew up without any real education in the faith (she was Baptized, but that’s about it) and is now at best an agnostic/possible atheist who also rejects organized religion. She says it’s “impossible” for her to have faith and follow a religion. What is truly sad is that she believes she was able to make an informed decision not to be religious when in reality she knows very little about Catholicism and has rejected any offering to learn. She told my wife that she didn’t think that learning more about the “mythology” of our religion would help her believe.

My wife and I have often pondered how we can better evangelize my mother and sister both. I’ve tried so far to teach by showing, by having a good Catholic household, but I often get the feeling (with my sister in particular) that it’s only “okay” for me to be Catholic if I’m a good little boy who goes to his corner to pray and doesn’t talk about his faith. I find myself on a bit of a tightrope because on the one hand I want to be vocal about my faith and beliefs, but on the other hand I don’t want to be dismissed as a “religious wingnut” and lose any chance of evangelizing them. My wife and I pray for them every day.

Anybody have any helpful tips on evangelizing those “difficult” people in their lives?

Yes, she will be coming to my initiation. I am considering asking her if she would go to confession beforehand so that she can participate in Holy Communion, but I don’t want to be too pushy either, considering it will be her first Mass in such a long time.

Glad to hear she will be attending.
I agree about the confession thing. Unless she truly plans on returning fully to the Church, she really couldn’t make a good, sincere, confession anyway.
But this does bring up a tricky point. Since she is not “right with the Church”, she is not in a state of grace and therefore not eligible to receive communion. Have you broached this issue with her??


Do her one better and ask her to look into doing what is necessary so that she may be your sponsor. I know of no sponsor that would not willingly step aside for such a reason. Not as a test but let her know what it would mean to you, but that it is her choice. Do not be afraid to use those graces when they show up. Should the issues be larger it will be something she will have to deal with, but there is no better time then the present.

The only thing that kept my Father from receiving the sacraments at my wedding, was his inability to let go of his lifestyle. It was his choice, but I am not sorry that I asked.

Don’t push or insist, but ask her to be joyful for you at this time.

Welcome home…


Good point about the impossibility of a sincere confession.

I have not broached the issue of not receiving communion with her yet, but am thinking of a polite way of reminding her that she should not receive communion. Any advice?

A parent cannot serve as a sponsor per canon law.

I’m hesitant to offer any because it is such a personal thing - your relationship with your mom and your mom’s relationship with the Church…

Maybe just ask her if she would like to receive communion at the initiation mass, and if she says yes, you could gently explain to her what you were taught in RCIA and what she would need to do…That is - that she would need to go to confession first and do so with the sincere intent to return fully to the Church (regular mass attendance etc.).

If she feels that she cannot do that with a sincere heart, tell her you love her and you understand and thank her for her honesty - a wonderful and very important thing.
Then tell her that, it would be better under these circumstances, out of respect for God, The Church and you, that she attend and share your joy, but not present herself for communion.

If the above sounds like a conversation you can have with your mother…great…
If not - well - maybe there is a thought or two that might help…

Good Luck.


Thanks for the advice. I have a tendency to come off very technical and legalistic sometimes, so I will have to put it very gently if I do ask.

lol…Me too.
Of course here I have the advantage of rereading and correcting my thoughts before hitting the “submit reply” button. Harder to do that in conversation.

Good luck


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