Family returning to church questions


#1

Good day
I am new here and I have a kind of complicated and exasperating situation that I’d like some advice on. Here goes

Here’s my situation. My husband and I were both brought up Catholic. When we were in the process of getting married I went to my pastor and asked about my husband to be and I taking our prep classes in different states or doing it by phone or internet because he was living in Colorado and I was in Maryland. I was willing to do anything to be married in my church. He refused me. I think it actually had more to do with my mom at the time than any rule he had. But that’s a long story.

Needless to say I was devastated. As I was a practicing Catholic and had a few years before became confirmed with my teenage son. It was very special to me.

My husband and I were married by a minister we found in an ad in the newspaper.

I allowed this situation to take me from the church I love.

Well 2 children later my husband and I decided to get the kids baptized and go back to the church and even possibly have our marriage blessed. This was in a reasonably busy parish and we signed my oldest up to the RCIA for kids. And my youngest was young enough still for us to just take the baptism classes.

This was a very difficult time in our lives, my husband had lost a job and had just found work with 2 full time jobs and I was working part time. We were completely overwhelmed and unable to navigate the process without help. Of which we got little. I later contacted the head of religious education and spoke with her about the need to set up a program to guide people who were returning after a long time, through the process. And she agreed that the ball is often dropped and people don’t follow through with the entire program.

Again, this was a difficult and frustrating experience. I sometimes wonder if it’s a test of my tenacity or a message that I’m barking up the wrong tree LOL.

A few weeks ago we decided that we need to do something in regard to our children’s religious education so we tried the local United Church of Christ. The people there were wonderful, very kind and welcoming. The church has tons of programs for kids.

Still, it didn’t feel like home. I don’t belong there. My children don’t belong there. I miss the ritual and the formality. It felt like I was sitting someones living room in the church we tried. I didn’t feel the sacred. I more than anything miss receiving Communion and reconciliation

I cried in the parking lot of the church this past Sunday and we didn’t end up going. I have been praying and reading and meditating on this issue for weeks and I think I need to act. I think that all this back and forth is confusing form my children too.

I don’t want to get on the track only to be completely frustrated and forgotten in the process. My family has some unique circumstances that need to be dealt with before we can all be in full union with the Catholic church.

Do any of you have any suggestions, prayers or guidance for me?

Thanks in advance for your consideration


#2

As a fairly recent convert I was blessed with a fantastic RCIA program with very knowledgeable deacons and lay ministers to help. However I know from many other contacts that it’s a nightmare in many parishes, especially if you are trying to do religious education as well.

I’ve very glad you came to Catholic Answers, hopefully some of us can offer advice and encouragement as I believe God is definitely calling you and your family home.

I would not involve my children in the Church of Christ, at all… of all the Protestant Churches the CoC is often very anti-Catholic and you don’t want to send your children the wrong message. My guess is that your tears this past Sunday were from God.

My suggestion, look around at some other parishes close by, talk with their Religious Directors and the one you already have. Ask them if they can help you make a plan on how to return to the Church, if they are unable or unwilling to do so, I would contact the local Diocese. God is calling you, the least we fallible humans can do is help you follow His will. Continue to pray and have faith and know that He will remove any roadblocks, it just may take a little time and some sacrifice.

If I think of other things I’ll let you know, know that you guys are in my prayers and feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions. I may or may not can help, but I’ll try.

Joe


#3

Thank you so much for the quick reply. Your advice is much appreciated. And your prayers too.:)


#4

i gently point out that you went from this

I was willing to do anything to be married in my church.

to this:

My husband and I were married by a minister we found in an ad in the newspaper.

i can so appreciate your depth of wanting to receive Jesus in Communion. but i’m uncertain what issues are involved when you write this:

My family has some unique circumstances that need to be dealt with before we can all be in full union with the Catholic church.

if these unique circumstances involve an anulment of any previous marriages, then contact a less busy parish and have then help you with the process. it may be lengthy.

in the meantime, go to Mass. every week. with your whole family. get Father Jude’s book on the Mass, one copy for each small kid in your family. study it and bring it to every Mass. catholicfreeshipping.com/Products/cfs_masforchilby.html

additionally, get this book and study it as a family. it is a beautiful basic catechism of our faith. ignatius.com/ViewProduct.aspx?SID=1&SKU=FL4:S-P%20&Category_ID=151&

pray together every day.

there will be hurdles of time, personnel, schedules etc. show God this really is your committment to return to the full practice of your Faith. He will open doors. but you gotta do your part.


#5

Do you have some friends or neighbors who are involved in a Catholic parish? They may be a good resource for you to find a parish with good religious education.

My sister converted to UCC. (My Italian grandparents have been rolling in their graves for years now.) For the most part, I’ve been comfortable when I went to hear her sing in the Christmas Cantata or to see her son confirmed or one of her boys play their instruments in a service. The services feel like a meeting for some kind or organization rather than a service. I was uncomfortable and a little offended at a dinner, when she said she didn’t remember her own confirmation and how little it meant to her. The words “man made rules” came out of her mouth and if my Dad hadn’t been there too, I’d have probably made my excuses and left. They’re out of the Congregationalist tradition which is very different from ours. I like the social network they have and the social action they display, but even when I wasn’t going to church I couldn’t be anything other than Catholic.


#6

Absolutely I went from wanting to get married in my church to getting married by a minister of another faith. There were a lot of things going on at the time, it was very complicated. My mom was dying and did die within weeks of my attempts of talking to my priest. My fiance was out of state, I had children to deal with, my mother’s house to ready for sale and sell after her death and the wedding was set for 6 months after her death. All excuses, I understand but I was deeply hurt by my pastor’s response to my request in addition to all these other impediments.

And no, an annulment is not necessary.

Thank you for the other advice though.

I’m wondering if this is not too busy a time of year to start this process?


#7

Oh my gosh, you explained it beautifully. That is exactly how I felt. I was drawn to the church because of their social action and justice involvement It’s a great resource for that purpose but like I said, I don’t feel comfortable.
Before service everyone is milling around talking like it’s a social occasion. Not a lot of time for reflection or to ready yourself for a service

Unfortunately, we just moved to this area in August and we have yet to make many friends. We have moved a great deal throughout our marriage and have no practicing relatives nearby either. Which is why I came here for advice, guidance and prayers


#8

I’m wondering if this is not too busy a time of year to start this process?

no. in fact, if you were able to attend the classes of preparation, all your unbaptized children (age 7 and under) could be baptized at easter.


#9

Thank you so much for the advice and guidance


#10

I think one of the most important things is to make an appointment and sit down with someone. Don't try grabbing them after mass. Don't call on the phone and expect they can talk to you right then. Also, just dropping by their office may not work as many pastors and directors of RE have booked up schedules and will appear rude to you (but would be rude to the person who has had an appointment for 2 weeks if they are late for that appointment.)

So, call, make an appointment, then sit down in an unhurried manner and explain your problems and your goals and make a plan to make it happen.


#11

[quote="Ducky1963, post:6, topic:187444"]
Absolutely I went from wanting to get married in my church to getting married by a minister of another faith. There were a lot of things going on at the time, it was very complicated. My mom was dying and did die within weeks of my attempts of talking to my priest. My fiance was out of state, I had children to deal with, my mother's house to ready for sale and sell after her death and the wedding was set for 6 months after her death.

[/quote]

None of these are excuses. It all makes me want to give you all a big hug right now, and I wish your pastor would have also. Of the many things we could work on as Catholics, ending that unfortunate emotional distance between priest and parishoner needs to be close to the top of the list.

I've attended many churches - Catholic as well as otherwise - and while there can be more warmth elsewhere it's not exclusive. Our parish has a reputation for being warm and inviting - and a little on the liberal side of theology. The next parish up is known for being a little more rigid - not cold, but certainly more conservative and with a heavy emphasis on education. So it's not unusual for our RCIA candidates to sometimes bop between classes to get a more in-depth response or to get more encouragement.

I'm just so sorry to hear you had to put up with an unsympathetic pastor. There's no reason for him to be that way - I mean, maybe he had personal reasons but there's a time to put those aside and that was definitely one of them. Being Christ is being holy and being loving, and if we remove one from the other we lose both.

I never really had a bad experience with the UCC - nice folks for the most part. Did have a really rotten one with the ICC, which was an offshoot, but that's not germane.

Ducky, if your heart feels home in the Catholic Church, find a parish that has the resources and people to help you make that happen. If the only parish available to you doesn't have those resources, build a team around on here to help you and your family.


#12

You and your family are in my prayers, Ducky.

Just remember when you start feeling overwhelmed with all the processes involved with coming back home, just step back, take a breath and say a prayer. Put the worry and frustration in God’s hands. He can handle it. Just keep your focus on your family and not giving up getting back home.

God Bless


#13

You have all been so kind to me. Thank you, from my heart.

I am gathering my courage up to call the local church. It's been a rough road but I feel like I can get support and friendship here and for that I'm grateful.

I use this site often to answer questions I have about my faith. I did a google after I bought a couple of Catholic Answers books at a local garage sale and found this site. This place, as a whole, has been a blessing to me.


#14

[quote="Ducky1963, post:7, topic:187444"]
Oh my gosh, you explained it beautifully. That is exactly how I felt. I was drawn to the church because of their social action and justice involvement It's a great resource for that purpose but like I said, I don't feel comfortable.

Before service everyone is milling around talking like it's a social occasion. Not a lot of time for reflection or to ready yourself for a service

Unfortunately, we just moved to this area in August and we have yet to make many friends. We have moved a great deal throughout our marriage and have no practicing relatives nearby either. Which is why I came here for advice, guidance and prayers

[/quote]

It does seem like a social occassion. This congregation has a very strong community feeling to it, and like I said, the services themselves are pleasant, but it just isn't like going to Mass. I have some friends I visit once a year in a town I lived in back in the early 70s. I go to the only Mass at 8am, then join them at their Christian church (that's the name of it, Townname Christian Church and the producer's grandfather was a founder about a century or so ago) for their service, and then we all go to the country club for brunch (which isn't nearly as high-falutin' as it sounds) with their minister and sometimes the priest joins us too. It's a very small town where everyone knows each other. Their service is much like the UCC and they're nice and pleasant, but not Mass.

It's hard when you don't know anyone. When we moved to Brooklyn, we were total outsiders. But getting involvevd at church helped me to get to know people and I started to feel more like I belonged there.

Is there only one parish? Try a few others if available. Go to Mass a few different places and see if you get a good feel for one of them. I belong to one parish, but sing at another. It took a while, but I feel pretty comfortable at both of them now.


#15

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