How do you witness to your family?


My husband’s sister and her family are Catholic (well, she’s not, but her husband and cildren are) but they are not really even cafeteria Catholics. They are nominal Catholics. It still haunts me and hurts me that on Easter Sunday, there was a comment made on how it’s difficult to even get through a one hour Mass, made after we mentioned the lovely 2 hour vigil we attended the night before.

I pray for them regularly, but I feel more distraut over these kinds of Catholics than I do over people who are agnostic or just indifferent. I want to be a witness to the beautiful faith that is Catholicism. I want to share the great joy and peace it brings my family. I want them to see that it’s their attitudes that have caused their children to hate and complain about religious education.

So how do you witness to your family? I think I’m going to pass along some Fr. Larry Richards CD’s, but I am fairly certain they will go unlistened to. I give their children religious gifts, but I have not seen the majority of them when we gone to their house, leading me to think they’ve been returned. I just don’t know what to do other than pray.


Off the top of my head, I would invite them to bring the kids to your church’s RE classes or events, especially if there is a fun activity. Get them exposed to other Catholic kids and it may spark the kids’ desire to go back. And don’t be shy about discussing your faith life with them or in front of their kids.

I cannot claim I have been or am the greatest witness to my family; my wife and family have seen me struggle more than anything else, though I’d like to think this has drastically changed lately as I am finally answering a call from God in my life. I am adamant about getting to church unless someone is dead; RE is critical to us and we help teach; our teen program is incredible so even I look forward to my daughter going; my wife’s faith is important to her as well; and we always say dinner/meal/nighttime/daily travel prayers. The basics? Yes, but we strive to grow each day.

Absolutely keep praying for your relatives; it is the best thing along with setting a great example.


Does your parish or surrounding parishes have Theology on Tap?

My way of witnessing is that my family and friends know of my keen interest in all things Catholic. I suggest hint hint for them to go to online Catholic stores for birthday, and Christmas presents, etc…

I also just started asking my sisters to look at the Theology on Tap series schedule and block out a time to go with me because “I don’t want to go alone”. It also helps that our parishes are meeting at the really popular places that my sisters already like to go to.


We do have Theology on Tap around here, but a friend of mine who was going said it’s very single-people oriented around here. She was one of the only, if not the only, married person attending.

I do ask for Catholic stuff, especially from I’m always hoping while they’re purchasing something they might come across something they want to read themselves. :wink:


The best thing you can do is love them the way they are. I know you ache for them and why, but to them you are overly enthusiastic, so anything you say is filtered through that perception.

Don’t push religious objects on them when they aren’t welcome. Let them see that you have a life outside the Church doors. Not that you shouldn’t live your faith, but don’t try to get them to be as thrilled about spiritual things as you are when they aren’t interested in that sort of thing. It only puts them off.

Pray for them and be there for them, but let them be themselves. Catholicism is all about keeping it real. You wouldn’t want them to pretend something they don’t feel just for you nor to be put off because you so desperately want them to be like you. As hard as it is, you have to let God work in their lives as he thinks best, even if you see no progress or feel any affinity with them.


I am betting you are already doing more than you even know! In my experience, conscious attempts at witnessing are often the least successful (and often have the opposite effect than what was intended). In my experience, the best way to inspire others to embrace the Faith is to behave in a gentle and kind manner whenever you are near them, and to pray for the Holy Spirit to use you as an instrument for their conversion. Intellectual motivations have their place, but I believe kindness wins more souls than any other method of evangelization.

St. Francis is often quoted as saying that we should spread the gospel using words only when necessary. It has become a bit cliche, but it is so, so true.

Something else to keep in mind is not to be discouraged if years pass and you do not see any sign of their hearts softening toward the Church. God’s schedule is better than ours… and we also have to contend with the fact that our loved ones have the free will to reject Christ, no matter how good of an example we are setting.


I have very nominally Catholic family. They are very dear to me, we would do just about anything for each other, but they are also very nominally Catholic- to the point of not baptizing their children, claiming they can wait until they’re old enough to decide for themselves. One baptized but did not follow through on the promise, and is now reaping what was sown. :frowning:

Part of the reason they are so nominally Catholic is abuse they perceive they received at the hands of those who represent the Church. A little of it is real, a lot of it is perception. For one person, it took place over 50 years ago, and that person is still leery of confessionals and confession, can’t understand why I go, why I take my granddaughter (No, it was not sexual abuse, just impatience on the part of a priest long dead). For another, a teaching sister was not as kind as she hoped, and favored another student (who was one of those kids the sisters “always” favored), can’t understand why we insist on the girls going to Catholic school or being homeschooled. We all have a common relative who thinks she is the pope, and makes ecclesiastic pronouncements on one hand; then, turns around and engages in such practices as racial prejudice and bigotry (doesn’t want a certain racial group in her parish, calls them by a perjorative), extreme gossip, manipulation, back-biting, etc. Another relative, spouse to the former, has returned to the practice of the Faith after a very, very, very, very, very long hiatus, but has made no changes in his life other than going to Mass on Sunday and going to confession once a month. He is still mean, still nasty, and now out to convert people by bullying them into it (yeah, that’ll work).

In my opinion, it is fine to look for opportunities to witness, in the sense of, “Please come along to this or that”. Family sacraments are a very good time to invite people, as are good old fish fries, spaghetti dinners, pancake breakfasts, May Crownings, Corpus Christi processions, school activities, etc. It is good for them to see the Church in a good light, to remember the things that were and are still good about it.

I would agree that the CDs will probably go unlistened. A few years ago, a family member expressed a desire for a Bible study as a Christmas gift. I got A Father Who Keeps His Promises by Scott Hahn. Well, that is not what was wanted, as it involved having to verify what Dr. Hahn said and use the Bible. They wanted it spoon fed, and at the time, I didn’t know about Jeff Cavins. So, the book sat, and is probably still sitting there.

So, I would have to say, in my opinion, the best thing to do is set a good example while keeping one’s humility, and to attempt through casual conversation to seek the root of the problem as to why these people no longer practice. You can’t solve it, whatever it might be. You can’t bully them into it. But, finding out seems to give the opportunity to say, “I’m sorry that happened to you. Here’s my take on that” in humility and meekness, without rancor and criticism (not to be confused with judgment).


We just be ourselves. We have lots of kids named after saints, we go to mass all the time, give religious oriented gifts not just for baptism and 1st communion but for birthdays and Christmas too, and talk about Jesus all the time. That is how we live, so we just do that with our family. Like this weekend, we went home for Easter, but made a point to schedule every thing we did around Good Friday, Easter Vigil, and Easter morn masses. And we showed off our newest daughter, Gianna Elizabeth. :smiley:


I totally relate to your situation. While I grew up Catholic, I really didn’t learn or care much about the faith until the last few years. I still went to Mass but that was about it. My oldest brother stopped going to church before I remember, and the rest, while they go, and have baptized their children, think that going to Mass is the extent of being Catholic, and make it sound like they are so much better than those who don’t go.

It’s difficult to try and witness because we did not really talk about religion in our home though church was definitely mandatory. So I don’t feel comfortable bringing up sacraments or Church teaching (quite sure my siblings use ABC).

Right now I am pretty quiet. If the topic comes up, I do try and sneak in a little information. Mostly I feel the best way will be once I am married and start a family, and they can see how important the faith is to us. Starting with a full mass at our wedding :stuck_out_tongue: (Much more common to have the shorter version in my family) Smaller ways: I send religious Christmas, Easter cards, make a point of mentioning my attendance of non-Sunday mass (like Holy Thursday).

Teakafrog- congratulations! I know what you mean about saints’ names, I have mine all picked out :wink:


We’re the only Catholics in our family. I try to witness by telling what’s happened in church (news, etc.) and how we honor the Lent and Advent seasons; basically by being open. Our parents are finally comfortable with us being Catholic.
Now we get calls from friends asking us to explain basic doctrines. It’s pretty satisfying.
I guess we essentially try to live the life in front of family and friends.


Ok, strike that suggestion about Theology of the Body. Even if the one your parish hosts are more marriage oriented, everyone needs to screen them out for themselves beforehand before even thinking about invinting someone else.

Warning: Long rant and thread drifting ahead

I went to my first one last night, maybe it just didn’t help that it was an ‘intercourse’ talk. I took my boyfriend.

Later I told him that I felt my heart drop down into my stomach and I felt dissappointed and let-down.

I understood the comments from the people attending but the vague and “It’s your decision” sort of mealy-mouth answers from the people in charge made me so sad. The Catholic position was spoken of but it wasn’t totally from the hosts and speakers and wasn’t seen as something that was sinful if not followed.

A non-Catholic guy that just worked at the place was blown away by the no sex before marriage talk, was quick to point out. If you are going to go through the whole Catholic marriage thing, why not follow the whole teaching.

I ended up being reaffirmed that God answered my prayers for a spouse, with my boyfriend. Later, over pizza, I told him that if I married a Catholic, I would end up athiest or agnostic in the end. To be undermined at every turn and butt my head against the “You’re just weird, I don’t have to follow that teaching. I know b/c I’m Catholic” would just wear me down and make me doubt myself to nothing in the end.
I caution everyone to find a future-spouse that respects your faith and will not only allow but also supports you to following it fully. I found that in a non-Catholic non-baptized man, that my Lord sent my way. He may never convert but if he ever does, he will take it as seriously as I do.

I owe my boyfriend big time for sitting through that ‘thing’ last night. He said he felt like he was on an HBO special, and that it was really just an excuse to drink together and feel good about it.

Ok end rant and I’m very sorry for the thread drifting on my part. I just had to get that out

P.S. Please don’t be offended and defensive about my comment of not needing to marry a Catholic. I KNOW that there are fabulous vibrant and supportive Catholics out there that make wonderful spouses! I just seem to be surrounded or at the very least only come across the other kind.


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