How do we keep them in the Church?


For the last month or so, I’ve been participating in a protestant message board. Something I’ve found really interesting is that a number of the people there had been raised Catholic to some degree, yet have left the Church because they felt unfulfilled. This is a theme I’ve heard in other places as well. How do we who are in the Church do our part to help keep these people in the Catholic Church? It just saddens me that people are being raised Catholic, yet they have no idea what that truly means. They don’t feel that they know God. How can we correct this?


We teach them from the very beginning and insure that they never fall for the essential error of Sola Scriptura.

If you don’t then they are prey for anyone who comes along with a grin and Bible.


There’s a couple of things going on here, IMHO. One is that people who are nominal in their understanding of the Church’s liturgies and practices make easy targets for Protestant proselytizers. And two, many Catholics are woefully ignorant of the deep spirituality in the Church.

No one in the Catholic Church is made to feel that he must have a certain level of spirituality or he is somehow not as good as others. That’s a good thing, but there is also a deplorable lack of incentive for people to explore the many great spiritualities within the Church. There is something for everyone, if they only know it exists.

All of us who know about these things ought to be doing something at our parishes to help people get involved in prayer groups, study groups, lay associations, and lay orders. At the least, they should be reading the daily Mass readings and praying the prayer of the Church (Morning/Evening Prayer) in one of the forms for lay people.

My dh and I are in a parish that does all these things. I don’t have any figures as to how many people leave our parish for Protestant churches, but I would guess that it isn’t many.


Well said!


Sadly, most of your average Catholics sitting in the pews on Sunday have no idea that the Catholic Church is the Church founded by Jesus. Most think that all truth can be found in the bible and don’t understand that Catholics also rely on Sacred Tradition and Church teaching.

Many have no idea that the Eucharist is the actual Body of Christ. Most think it is a symbol. I had this conversation last week with a Catholic who completed RCIA only about 7 years ago. I said “Do you understand that the Eucharist is the Body of Christ?” She said “Yes” I said, “Do you understand that it’s the REAL Body of Christ?” She said “Yes!” I said “Do you understand that it’s not a SYMBOL of the Body of Christ, but that it’s actually Jesus?” She stopped and looked at me and said “No, I never really understood it that way!” I took her through John 6 and some other verses of scripture and then she understood.

The point is nobody who truly understands Catholicism could ever leave it. Those of us who do understand need to help others understand. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it at a parish level, find another way. There is actually a real hunger out there for more knowledge. I meet with a group of about 6 girls from my work once a month just to discuss apologetic type material. They love it and are starting to fall in love with their faith.

If you pray about it, God will show you where you can help!


Great answers! I currently teach 3rd grade CCD and really try to stress to the kids how real Christ is. I hate to use the phrase, but I want them to have that personal relationship with Christ, so that when they get older, this won’t be a new concept to them and they won’t fall prey to those looking to lead them out of the church.


I left the catholic church when i was 17 and returned when i was 39…why did i come back to the church i grew up in ? Mainly because my parents set a good example of christian love outside of church ; and i always remember the kindness shown to the kids by adults attending mass sunday after sunday.:thumbsup: I have been challenged since my return as i have noticed that protestant friends as well as protestants who have done the ALPHA course at our church are not at all shy to question catholicism…perhaps they all come from more liberal homes ? However i soon got to grips with their probing questions due to the fact that they all seemed to have the same issues ; why do you worship mary ? confessing to a priest and not directly to God ? ect. ect.
With regards to knowing God i would say that protestants have the upper hand simply because their ‘confirmation’ often/usually includes an adult ‘decision to follow Jesus’…or a verbal statement where the person asks Jesus to ‘come into his/her life’. Some of the protestant churches we know of also include adult baptism in the ‘initiation ceremony’. This is where i feel that our confirmation fails us…at 16 i had no idea of the enormity of what was being stated. On the positive side of things i have noted that our priest often tells of our need to be BORN-AGAIN [especially now that easter is close !] if we want to know God…i suppose so-called born-again christians would be shocked to hear that catholics can also be born-again , and indeed know God ! We would go to confession , repent and so be born-again ! Methinks some of the younger protestants need to realise that christianity is not a new ‘invention’ of sorts , and i also believe that forums and the www in general will prove to be a huge eye-opener for all non-catholics. Catholics world-wide must also be encouraged to read the bible more ; pray more and also engage non-catholics more , in a kind way…then the walls will come tumbling down !!! :thumbsup:


One problem is that if you delay confirmation until children are economically independent of their parents then, in middle class America, you are looking at the early twenties. I don’t think the age of sixteen is wrong, but it should be tied to other symbols of maturity, such as a right to leave education and a right to marry.


I think the first step is some healthy introspection not seen in some of the rather bombastic replies seen here!
A question for you all - do you think that the declamatory responses to many genuine questions posed by Catholics and non-Catholics alike put people off at all?
I know what I have learnt from other posters, but I am interested to know what you all think.


I hope that Catholics and Non-Catholics pray to the Holy Spirit to give the gift of charity. If the question is written in with charity, it wouldn’t be offensive.

There are times that both Non-Catholics and Catholics at times here falter by posting uncharitable questions and answers.

So I ask all to pray and do it with charity. The easy way to do this is ask yourself this question, "How would Jesus say this? I’m sure he does not want me to write anything offensive. So its charity…Pray first before posting a question or answer.


I suppose this is really just another question…

But is not the most important thing we can do for fallen away Catholics, and even our Protestant brothers for that matter, in relation to bringing them back to the fold of Christian unity to attend Mass frequently and pray for the unity of the Church to be restored?

I was taught that the communion of the saints means that all the saints and angels in heaven participate in every Mass with us, and that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, wherever and whenever it is celebrated, benefits all members of the Body of Christ, whether they are currently joined in full communion with the Church or not. Is this not our most powerful and sacred act of prayer?


As an adult convert to Catholicism this is one of the saddest situations I see. I have always envied ‘cradle’ Catholics because they were raised in the faith, an opportunity that I was denied. This has made the Church and my belonging to it that much more precious, and when I see friends and neighbors wantonly throwing that gift away it is painful. I’m a bit sensitive on the subject because a girl at the office, one of my best friends and one whom I had thought was a very strong Catholic, just announced to me that she and her husband have left the Church and joined what she referred to as a ‘non-denominational congregation’. I tried to explain that calling yourself ‘non-denominational’ means that in actual reality you have just created a new denomination, but I’m not sure she understood that. The only concrete reason she could give for the switch is that she ‘likes the music better’ in her new church! :eek: I was speechless. To renounce the one true Church for such a tiny consideration…I just don’t know. I have heard now from mutual friends that the husband is quite anti-Catholic and is the real power behind this development, and that she went along with it to save the marriage. Very upsetting. It’s hard to even look her in the face now.


I have to agree, I attended several of my second sons preparation classes and was absolutely shocked. The classes were full of 16 year olds and the teaching was appropriate for a 6 year old. Touchy, feely, coloring pictures (yes they actually had 16 year olds color pictures). At one “class” they had all the kids remove their shoes and socks and put them in a huge pile, I thought they were going to do the washing of the feet, but no, they never even explained why they removed their shoes, just a class of fluff and then the kids had to find their shoes! What lesson was this supposed to prove is beyond me, and it was beyond my son also. When I asked my son and his friends about the “tough” questions they would face from the outside world they had no idea, well, my son did have an idea from his home, but his friends were clueless. If they are becomming adults in the Church we should equip them as adults and stop this babifying of the faith.


Tom , i agree…if i told you that i know of adult catholics who really feel a very strong need to express themselves on issues like confirmation , marriage in the priesthood…ect.ect. ; although i am mostly enjoying my ‘walk of faith’ , i do sometimes get frustrated when i realise that these things can only be improved if Rome decides on such issues. Incidentally the church is growing in leaps and bounds here in africa…peace.:thumbsup:


:frowning: Bombastic…??? If you want to experience ‘bombastic’ may i humbly suggest you visit the Rev. Ian Paisley’s web-site…click onto one of the sermons delivered on ‘romanism’ , :confused: and then you might understand why only the direct intervention of God can help Northern Ireland…!


Most people do not leave the Catholic Church because they are convinced that it is bad.

Here are some reasons I have heard people tell me they left the Catholic Church:

“It was too rigid”

A lot of youth do not like routine. At Mass, it is the same thing- over and over again (I know, I know, the Sacrament is great, and it’s not about entertainment and what not- but you can’t keep someone in the Church simply by telling them they are wrong). It would also help if priests would ditch the political correctness and sugar coating, and preach on tough stuff. There are those out there who can handle that- who want that. They will get it at the evangelical churches- they aren’t afraid to tell you right from wrong, or where wrongdoing will land you. We need priests to do that. If anyone is offended by it, they need to toughen up!

“Pretty much all we did was go to Mass, and I didn’t even know the people who sat next to me every week”

People want to feel welcome- and by other people too- not just by God. When the only organizations parishes have are altar societies and the legion of Mary (not things that draw young adults interest- especially men), and the Knights of Columbus all too often is just an old men’s social club. They could start one, but they don’t have time to do it all alone, and the interest just doesn’t seem to be out there. The local evangelical church’s youth group starts to look very inviting after awhile.

Then there are those who don’t join another church- they just quit going to Mass- except maybe two or three times a year, and for weddings and funerals.

Parents- I suspect fathers in particular, because I see devout mothers whose kids don’t go to Mass, but I know very few devout fathers whose kids don’t go to Mass- need to live their faith. You cannot be going to Mass on Sunday then living in a way that no one would guess you are a religious person during the week. Your kids see how you act, and that’s how they start to act. It sets a bad example for non-Catholics, it makes your kids question how you value your faith- and if you don’t value your faith, why should they?


I agree. I have definitely met many Catholics that are just drastically misinformed about many Church teachings, and many more that, despite full knowledge of Church teachings, believe following faith and morals guidelines is optional.

I think that plans are already underway to begin addressing this issue, though. I am told by our director of religious education that the archdiocese here intends to start using the newly released United States Catholic Catechism for Adults for all RCIA and confirmation classes. This would essentially turn, I am told, our current one year RCIA program into a two year program, as well as standardizing on a far more complete textbook than we have been using at our parish. Hopefully it will also be a program that does not require quite so much outside reading as I had to do to find the answers I needed when I went through.

However, I must express my doubts that this will entirely solve this problem. No matter how good a job of catechizing we do at home, in our churches, or in our schools, ultimately it falls to each individual to accept the gift of faith, study and learn, and make the teachings of the Church their own. We cannot do it for them. I really believe that prayer is key.


Yes …catholics are so used to having the church decide and do everything for them , that we sometimes don’t know how to respond to church programs , new initiatives ect.ect. Making individuals realise that ‘THEY HAVE TO DECIDE TO FOLLOW JESUS’ will go a long way to empowering them in their faith…i am thinking especially of the youth here.:slight_smile:


The reasons why people leave any church are many fold, but all of God’s children seek salvation. Very few would ever leave the RCC if the good news was clearly preached every Sunday. People are literally dieing to hear the Gospel to be reconciled with God.


true - every syllable is like a hand grenade going off!
the Ulster accent can be very grating at the best of times
I was in Belfast for a month back in the 90s, just off the Falls Road.

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