Okay, so this is part evanglization question, part family issues question. The Thing I am wondering is, how can I get my family back to the Church, when so many members of the church have been cold and in some cases hurtful towards us.
Here’s the background. My father died 8 years ago. Up until then, we always went to church. I won’t say we were the most faithful family in terms of doctrine (mom was a typical liberal, dad was more conservative, but still had his doubts) we always went to church and never missed a sunday or holy day.
Anyway, after my dad died things kind of went downhill. My mom had to take a job as a teachers aide because she couldn’t afford to drive to the Catholic School where she was teaching about 50 miles away and lost not only her faith in religion, but in people. Also, it hit me hard because I had some discipline issues (I was 16 and bullied and had threatened kids so they would stop). My autistic brother was affected, but he went on pretty well. My sister was only 13 at the time and besides being picked on, she didn’t really have many friends in our small Catholic school, and it probably hurt her the most (she still hasn’t recovered to this day. She’s extremely shy, has severe depression. Doesn’t have any friends and doesn’t really talk to any people other than us.
Anyway, none of my family has gone to church in about a year or so except me or my brother. I go every sunday and holy day and a few daily masses, while my brother comes with every so often. My mother and sister do not.Besides the loss of faith, a lot of it has to do with where we live.
We live in a small community of about a 100 people, and the next closest town has about 2500. My mom moved to live with my dad when they were married and people didn’t accept her much since she was a convert and my family isn’t the biggest of big shots. Anyway, most of the big shots in our town were Catholic and didn’t really treat us great. Not that they were in your face mean, but more like gossipy small town mean. This not only applied here but at our catholic school. We weren’t a big name. Us kids weren’t treated great not only because we didn’t fit in but because we weren’t big shots. It didn’t help that our elementary school principal didn’t like mentally challenged kids and tried to get my parents to send my austistic brother to another school. Add to that I and my sister were bullied and no one was punished for it (in my case especially it made my mom mad because I had got suspended. She felt the other kids should have too since I got called really bad gay slurs, even though I’m not SSA)
Add to this we had priests who were not the greatest. The first priest she knew out here gave her a book by Bruno Bettelheim about autism after the birth of my brother (for those who don’t know bettelheim was the proponent of the “refrigerator mother” theory which placed autism’s development on maternal coldness) and of course my mom took it as he said it was her fault. Our next priest also wasn’t the warmest individual, but we did have one who was good to our family since like my mom he was a convert, was a similar age, and even convinced my dad to get annointing of the sick when he was diagnosed with cancer.
Our current priest though is another story. He is not only kind of lukewarm towards our family (he’s never asked me how they are doing when I talk to him and isn’t interested in getting them back), but my mom doesn’t like him because as a teacher, she doesn’t like that he uses incorrect grammar in spite of his education and isn’t the most well spoken individual, and of course only seems to care about the big shots in our small parish (we have only 60 or 70 families). She also feels he screwed me over for a few things (I was active in music ministry in college as well as lecturing, while my parish, the music director only allows her family, and even though I took lectoring classes I didn’t put my name on the list until last fall).
Also to add to this, my mom didn’t grow up catholic, disagrees with the church. Was raised in a family that wasn’t observant, though she always went to Lutheran services while young and taught sunday school though this was in the 70’s in the ELCA, which accepted her liberalism. The same thing goes for my sister. She like my mom is very liberal, and has been hurt by people in the church. She was bullied, she has met hypocritical catholics and christians in college (one of her friends supposedly was involved in her college’s Catholic club and smoked dope regularly). She also has never really been accepted by anyone. I tell her to go to different clubs and groups but she is so depressed she has withdrawn into herself, and I worry she’ll just be this loner with no one to turn to. Not even God
So how do I get my family back to the church. A lot of it is simply because a lot of Catholics haven’t been charitable towards them. I don’t blame them. We’re in a small town and its hard to get accepted, but at the same time, most people are “devout” but couldn’t care less about those who are struggling or don’t fit in and it saddens me. I often tell my mom how it is so different in a lot of places but she turns a blind eye. She keeps telling me “the only good people around here are the non-catholics” and brings up how the church "hates gays, mexicans( don’t know where she got that) and poor people) and just has a general dislike. Same with my sister. My brother though he doesn’t go as much, is probably the most likely to return. Mostly because he is easy to convince though I wonder how much his disability affects him (thats another question though). So how do I get my family back to the Catholic Church. I would love for them to be Catholic, but I don’t want to try and push my faith on them. They’ll just think i’m some biblethumper or like those people who aren’t so nice to us. What do I do?
I know it’s a long question but any help would be appreciated