How Do I Return to the Church?

Hi. I read my post is supposed to be kept very simple, so if you need me to answer background, please ask.

After several years of not having my theological questions answered by my pastor and several other priests who were dismissive, bad liturgy, discovering our associate pastor had raped a boy beginning at 4 years old until he was 10 and other shocking things in the Church, I went searching. Long story short, I ended up converting to Orthodox Judaism three and a half years ago. I realized I had made a big mistake about a year ago and have started attending Mass again (no I don’t receive Communion).

I don’t know what steps to take to fully return to the Church. I read somewhere that I will have to go to confession at the Cathedral and have my ex-communication lifted by a bishop. Is this true? Also, will I need to go through RCIA? I would really prefer not to have to do that, as it would be very embarrassing having my sin known like that.

Please help and keep me in your prayers as I make this transition back and begin the process of repentance.



It can be as simple as going to confession. Where were you in your faith before you left the Church?

I attended Mass 3-7 days a week most of my life, said the Office and Rosary daily, was involved in many prayer groups, Catholic intellectual groups, The Blue Army, made retreats a couple times a year, taught First Communion Prep, one hour a day in adoration, read many orthodox Catholic periodicals, encyclicals, meditation books by various saints and other spiritual reading, confession once a week.

You didn’t mention the Sacraments. Are you already confirmed? Received First Communion?

Ultimately your priest will determine this. Talk to him. But if you already have received the Sacraments of Initiation, perhaps a confession and some spiritual guidance and counseling from your pastor would suffice. But its up to him.

Yes, First Communion and Confirmation.

I don’t have a priest per se. I live in a different city from where I grew up and honestly, after all I have been through, the idea of sitting down with a priest makes me kind of ill. I know that sounds terribly harsh, but I am just not there yet. I don’t trust most priests and if you experienced what I went through 5 or 6 years ago, you would feel the same, so please don’t judge me on that. I would rather do all of this through the anonymity of Confession, if possible.

Is there anyone out there who knows how to return to the Church after you have converted to a non-Christian religion?

It’s really simple. I did the same thing 13 years ago after a 22 year absence (in my case it the non-Christian religion was fundamentalist atheism).

It goes like this:

  1. go to confession
  2. go to Mass
  3. Welcome home!

Are you sure? I have read I will need to have my ex-communication lifted, possibly by a bishop, that confession might be a 2 parter, confessing and then the priest has to get permission to lift the ban and then return to have it lifted. And therefore, I have read it is best to go to confession at a Cathedral because the confessors there are often empowered with these faculties. Heard anything about this?

A formal conversion to Judaism would constitute apostacy, and that does incur excommunication. BUT, incuring *latae sententiae *excommunication requires that a person **knows **what they are doing is an excommunicable offense, has to be above a certain age, etc. So, if you didn’t know about the penalty or meet other criteria you may not have actually incurred excommunication.

The best thing to do is go to confession at the local parish, you can do so anonymously. Confess your sins and let the priest guide you if there are any more steps necessary.

Just take it one step at a time.

Sadly, I knew fully what I was doing and I was in my late twenties. So, I’m sure the excommunication applies to me. I guess that is what I will have to do.

If anyone has any more information to share, I would be truly grateful.

Thank you.

SarahSean, two things

  1. The parish pastor of the parish where your place of residence belongs to is your priest. Further, if you do with to approach any other priest, you are free to do so. Just make sure the priest is in good standing with the Church. Although I would advice you to approach priests with good knowledge of dealing with such issues. If you are not satisfied with one priest, don’t feel hesitant to go to another. But inform the previous one as a courtesy.

  2. The Bishop may delegate authority to lift excommunications to the priests in confession. You will only find out if this is the case if you go to confession and/or talk to a priest.

If you are living in my diocese, I’d gladly help you. I know a number of priests who are great not only as priests who can give spiritual advice, but knowledgeable in Church matters as well. But I’m sure wherever you are there are equally apt priests there. You can also call the Diocesan office and there would definitely be priests there who handle such cases.

If you have already received the Sacrament of Confirmation and you are otherwise reasonably well-catechized (that is to say, you know that you are supposed to go to Mass on Sundays, and you are aware of the duties particular to your state in life) you won’t have to do RCIA. :slight_smile:

You can also ask about taking instruction privately if for some reason you missed your Sacraments in your childhood and youth. But if you end up in RCIA, you don’t have to explain why - let them assume that you are just a “late bloomer.” There are plenty of those around.

Please help and keep me in your prayers as I make this transition back and begin the process of repentance.

you got it! :slight_smile:

Catholics are excommunicated converting to Judaism ? Is that due to the denial of Christ as Messiah?

Is that also true converting to Islam?

As I understand from EWTN most priests are allowed with permission from their Bishop to give absolution when couples abort their children.

I highly doubt there would be a problem providing absolution for a past conversion to Judaism.

P.S. When I reverted I asked if I could attend RCIA and half way through I was asked to be a sponsor.

This is my second year as an RCIA sponsor.

Welcome Home by the way!


I see your trust issues as the big hurdle to jump here. You had the misfortune of being one of the minority of Catholics who knew or had contact with an abusive priest. It is a tragedy that it even occurred. However, priests are in persona Christi, and so, we are called to see Christ in and through them just as we are called to se Christ in all others. And, as evil as the abusive priest acted, he could not have victimized without, at some time in his life, having been victimized as well. Not an excuse at all, but simply indicating that victim becomes abuser in the well-known cycle.

Any priest is fine for the purpose of reconciliation, but the retired priests who live in each diocese are absolutely some of the warmest, most humble and loving examples you will ever meet. They have heard every imaginable sin, and truly represent the mercy of Christ. One of them would be delighted to assist you over your trust issues and humble return to the faith.

Christ’s peace be with you.

When I came back this year, I had to go to confession to receive communion again. I emailed the priest and asked questions I had. That may be a safer way for you at first…


For apostatizing from the faith. Conversion to a non-Christian faith is apostatizing.

Yes since they are not Christians

Priests normally do not have the authority to lift excommunications. The Bishop though may delegate this to his priests. The only way to know is to ask the priest is he has such authority. This would solely depend on the Bishop whether he delegates or not so this may differ from diocese to diocese.


So I joined a Buddhist “church” years ago, and then not so long ago joined a WELS Lutheran church. Am I excommunicated? I hope not! :eek: I thought all I was going to have to do to return (in full communion) is get an annulment!

In response to all of the questions that people are raising on here, I would recommend the following: Do not commit such a situation to the word of people on the internet. I realize that most of the people on here are intelligent, knowledgeable Catholics who are devoted to their faith. However, these questions (regarding whether an excommunication has taken place and the like) are better left for either one’s Bishop or the Judicial Vicar of the Diocese. I myself am possessed of fragmentary knowledge of Canon Law (as are most adult Catholics, given the vast amounts of information available on the internet). I am by no means an expert. I recommend consulting one of the above named people (or anyone with a Canon Law degree) to clear up any questions about this.


We are called “reverts”–reverting back to the Catholic faith. I was away for many years and only recently came back. The hardest part was confession, but I went face to face with a priest for the first time. It was hard and humbling. Remember, it is Jesus you are confessing to, just talk to him (Jesus) as if in a conversation.
The priest was most compassionate and non-judgemental–remember, only God judges, Jesus forgives. I go to him all the time now. Pray to the Holy Spirit for the strength to confess. A priest usually has the power to forgive excommunication, it is given to him by the bishop at ordination. You will not have to tell anyone else about your excommunication, any more than you would tell anyone else your sins.

Second-Mass and Holy Communion

Third–Thank Jesus for forgiving your sins

And welcome back. Peace be with you. :thumbsup: :blessyou:

I was raised Catholic, was for 15 years a convince calvinist protestant and 9 months ago the Lord God by His grace brought me back to His Ancient Mother Church!

With me i did like this:

(1) Seek a good orthodox Catholic Church.
(2) I needed some pastoral care from a priest with whom i could share my journey back.
(3) Go to confession
(4) Go to mass
(5) Welcome home!

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