How to bring back fallen-away children (grown) to Catholic faith

[LEFT]Does anyone have any good suggestions on how to gently nudge grown children, some of who live in sin, to come back to the faith? I cannot keep bugging. How should I approach this? I do pray often.


Prayer and fasting are good. If they’re visiting you invite them to come to Mass with you. If it’s natural and fits into a conversation, talk about what’s happening in your life that relates to your faith or to the Church. “I was talking to the young man I’m sponsoring in RCIA and…” or “Last week I was part of the group serving dinner at the homeless shelter and…” In other words, share what’s important to you and exciting in your life.

Nagging is not only useless for bringing someone back to the Church but may actually drive them away.

As a child who fell away, I can tell you that almost nothing my parents or grandparents were going to say was going to bring me back…
it was the birth of my son and the Holy Spirit that brought me back.

Just pray. I will pray for you as well.

Thanks for your honesty Rainy,
What you say certainly reflects my experience with 2 of my own grown sons.
These days, I try to keep them envious of (and wondering about ! ) my own inner peace & happiness at all times, even in adverse situations .

I also am taking the advice of a wonderful Capucian priest who heard my confession in Medjugorje:
" Look at what God has done for you in your life !
With all of the grace He has shown you, you still don’t TRUST God with your sons ?
It is not your job to convert anyone, that is for the Holy Spirit to do.
Your job is to trust God, and to LOVE your sons.
You just LOVE them ! "


The Truth is still the truth even if nobody believes it, and a lie is still a lie, even if everybody believes it. Fulton Sheen

:slight_smile: And now for what it is worth, I am a Catechist! ! !

I am reminded every year that we are just “seed planters”.

We put the ideas there and nurture them while we can and the rest is left to God.
I KNOW it must be harder with your biological children.

Bob, you are on my prayer list too now! :wink:

Bob, I love this line of thinking. This makes sense.

However, take a look at Patrick Madrid’s web blog and let me know what you think. This is what makes me nervous about raising children, who don’t end up in the faith, or living in sin.

Could you summarize the sermon, please? This is a great concern of mine, but I cannot listen, as my computer, old as it is, has no sound. Thanks.


Jon, Rainy:

Wow. This IS powerful !
Bless this priest for his courage to tell it like it really is.
I wish I could reach him to thank him for this sermon.

Please, don’t be nervous about raising children, who don’t end up in the faith, or living in sin. Remember ‘where you were’ at their age. If you knew my story, you would know that ANYTHING is possible thru His grace. (not to mention the prayers of Our Lady)

I can say this much- all 3 of my sons were (I believed) STRONG Catholics when we sent them off to college.
1 of the 3 returned a strong Catholic.
1 returned Agnostic.
1 returned Fundamentalist.

What is the lesson here ? Well, the priest in this recording says alot about it, and I cannot guess where along the way, and in how many ways, my kids were led astray by the public school system.
I do know, in painful retrospect, what were my own failings in their Catholic Christian education. I also can clearly recall in the same painful retrospect, the many times I was not a good Christian example to my boys. So there is a personal responsibility component to every case of a Catholic son or daughter leaving the True Faith. Because we are not perfect parents it will always exist to some degree in these cases.

That said, please consider this:
No one who understands and believes what happens in the Holy Mass leaves the Catholic faith.
No One.
When you know Christ is physically present, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, along with the entire heavenly court, you are not about to leave or go anywhere else…
As a convert, I am shocked at how many (even ‘cradle’) Catholics do not believe and appreciate this central fact of our faith.

As parents, God asks us to do the best we can. He knows us very well, and understands each of our limitations.
He will help us if we ask Him to.
But He will not beat the door down if we neglect to invite Him in to our lives.

So where does this leave us ?
1-Teach your children as best you can.
2-Pray for them every day.
3-Especially when they are young, let them SEE you praying.
4-Encourage your parish CCD teachers to teach what the faith is really about.
5-Impress on your parish CCD teachers that when high school seniors are about to leave for college without truly understanding and believing what happens in the Holy Mass, that we as a parish have an EMERGENCY SITUATION on our hands. Statistics in every parish say that they will never see that kid again.
Of course if it gets to this 11th-hour situation, then there is much wrong with the composite picture of the child’s Catholic education at CCD & home. But the cases still need to be identified and an effort made to make the young person aware of the reality of the miracle we Catholics call the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I also assist with teen CCD at our parish, and I make it my mission to address this issue. If we send our youth into the world without an awareness of what the RCC professes about the Mass, we have failed them.

Jon, Rainy, this is the best we can do and God will always accept our best. Beyond that, I stand on what I quoted from the priest in Medjugorje—Love them and Trust them to God.

Through the intercession of our Blessed Mother, God’s grace in my own faith journey has proven to me many things I once thought not possible, not the least of which is the amazingly merciful patience God has for us.

So, bless your little ones while they are young, continue to pray for them when they grow up, and TRUST to GOD their future, and their ultimate conversion to His holy will.

May God bless you with His grace,

No God, No Peace .
Know God, Know Peace .

Pray non-stop to St.Monica who did the same for her son…and she even got a saint out of it, which is ultimately what all parents want…to get their children to heaven with them. This is a great website to explore too.

Yes, I do sometimes.
I often think of St.Augustine & his mother.
My own path to the RCC was similar to his, so I’ve kind of adopted him as one of my patron saints…

Pray and fasting… and asking for intercession…

Trust me… I was away for 20 years… although I was a good kid… in my younger days… but it was the constant prayer of my mother that won the day…

And it has been revealed to me… so I know it is true… through a simple little course I didn’t want to attend… but my mother kept badgering me about… it is called “life in the spirit”…

This course will change the life of a confused and wayward youth… if they are open to it and willing to commit to it for the 7 or so weeks…

So in short… don’t ever give up… it may take time for a complete turn around… and God only knows why… sometimes you have to be on your knees to listen to God’s soft words… " I love you"…

God Bless.

I have given this some deep mediation and here is what I came up with…

Ask them why they aren’t attending Church… ask them what they don’t believe.

I “left” because I was very angry. I was mistreated by our pastor. And I don’t mean molested. I mean he would yell at me, not answer questions… it was a horrible experience from grades 1-8. I was talking to a friend today from grade school that I “found” on facebook. We haven’t talked in 20 years! And the first thing she said was … “Is Fr. X dead yet? Is he still a mean old bitter man.”
He affected us all horribly. When I got to where I am today and I talked to my current pastor, I told him that I grew up with Fr. X. He nodded, came over and gave me a hug… he knew. It was enough to push a lot of us away.

I also believed horrible things about the church because no one set us straight. We were just to believe without answers. I have asked my priest certain things and can’t believe the answers. I thought that the Catholic faith was uptight and not accepting. My priests shows me things in the Catechism! I am proud to be Catholic… but it is only because my mind has been opened to the real faith.

Find out what your children believe. They may have been misled or misinformed.

Again… good luck.

OH and lastly… it is nothing YOU did. There are so many factors for why someone might “leave”.

We went to a friends funeral today at the Catholic Church, she was my daughters neighbor, All 3 of my children were baptized & 2 married in the Church. Anyway she asked if they were going to have communion and I said yes, . but your family can’t go but you can,( once a Catholic always a Catholic) which I knew she wouldn’t without her family.

They started going to a Methodist Church his parents went to for a long time then changed to the Lutheran Church
because her husband didn’ t understand what went on in the Catholic Mass!! I know before any one says anything., the similarities are amazing! The Lutheran Church has a big parish & have a lot of activities going on for the children and a lot of their friends go there !
But , she also remembers the activities she did when she was younger at the Catholic Church. It was just an excuse.

One son , got married at a church his fiance’ thought was so pretty! They didn’t go to any church until their kids were about in their teens and went to a Methodist Church sometimes . All I could say was at least they are going to a church!!

The other one was married in the Church & his wife became a Catholic & had their son Baptized etc. But after 17 years she ran off with somebody else and left her son!!

So I keep praying for all of them to see the light!!

You are SO right. Unfortunately the RCC is full of sinners, has been since day one.
But it is still Christ’s Church.
Welcome home !

Common tales to be sure !
There are a million paths to the Catholic Church, have faith-God is incredibly patient with us, so never give up on anyone. Share what you know is the Truth, reflect the joy of your faith to others around you. And “…pray, pray, pray, until prayer becomes a joy for you.”

You might just be surprised some day.

Pray for them. Love them as they are, where they are, without conditions. Be available to talk about it with them, but don’t pressure them to talk about it. Listen more than you talk. There is no “formula.” Each soul must find its way home. You can be supportive, but you can’t walk the path for them. Be a spirit-filled, joyful, peaceful person. Don’t be an anxious, worrisome person. Show them. Let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

It took me 20 years to come back. There were some things I had to learn for myself.

From an experience I recently had at a Catholic retreat called “Faith Into the Fire of the Holy Spirit,” I believe that there is absolutely no way that we can do anything to directly bring anyone to God. I was raised in the faith and even witnessed miracles, but I still fell as far from God as one can get. Until another miracle happened which led me to the retreat.
To make a very long story short, at the retreat, we felt this overwhelming warming presence that took our breath away and we lost the ability to stand. I could not stop crying and I felt as if I was being consumed in a massive bonfire but instead of being burned, I felt the presence of so much love, compassion, and forgiveness. I left the retreat feeling like a completely new person. Colors became more vibrant and sounds became more pleasing. I believe The Holy Spirit is working very quickly these days because I’ve heard of so many fallen away Catholics report similiar experiences, and once you have it there is that increased awareness of how loving your neighbor and turning anger into compassion and understanding can really change the world.
I also believe that when a person raised in the faith loses their faith and chooses a life of sin, that it may be God’s way of letting us see the world and experience evil for ourselves so that when He pulls us out of that life we are left with an empathy and an understanding for others who are still currently trapped in that situation. Most importantly I’ve learned that if we pray diligently and love everyone as God loves them, then God will make His way back into their hearts and their sould will eventually get saved… In His time.
God Himself did say that He does not put a person through more than they can handle. So if they go over the edge, it’s us that sent them there. If we can become that beacon of light and a true ambassador for Christ, then there is no reason what-so-ever that anyone we love will die without knowing Jesus and the Father.

Francis Cardinal Spellman said, ‘Pray as if everything depended upon God and work as if everything depended upon man.’

Prayer and action go hand in hand.

  1. Pray for the intercession of Our Lady of Hope, one of the oldest Marian devotions. A shrine bearing this title was erected at Mezieres, France in 930 AD.
  2. Be conscious of the power of good example. One of my fallen-away sons once said, ‘Mum, I carry you around in my head.’
  3. Practical Action. My eight, grown children are scattered throughout the country.
    Recently, I began a daily, family email and than two pages and do not send it as an attachment. It may be the Saint of the Day, a nourishing poem, a catholic topic, social commentary, or family news, with added pictures and music links. Variety is the key.

It has been an opportunity for correspondence to occur among them, and as there is a fifty percent strike rate, it is a wonderful way for the practising siblings to influence those who don’t. One son, is currently corresponding with his siblings on his discoveries with music in the liturgy. Two sisters are exchanging advice on babies… etc.

I sometimes write, ‘thank you Lord, for this or that,’ and to my surprise, have discovered the child I thought would be least receptive has been the most appreciative. This son, 35, is expecting his first child (out of wedlock) and has been away from the Church for so many years. It can be hard to find one’s way back home without support, especially when one geographically lives so far from one’s family but the daily email is a non threatening avenue for him to ask a question or two, in response to something I might bring up. He often writes a quick reply, which indicates how much thought he gives to the topics at hand. It might be a sentence or two, or an ‘I remember when we used to do this or that as a kid …that Augustine seems like a great bloke, lol…or he might ask a question, but enormous changes are evident.

He recently wrote to tell me he had been thinking a lot about his God children and too ashamed to admit he couldn’t remember who they were except he thought he probably had a couple of siblings and the son of a friend of former friend of mine, I haven’t seen in nearly two decades. He said, ‘I have been a bad Godfather, Mum. Now, might be a good time to ask.’ He asked me for details and phone numbers and ended the contact with, HELP!!

You know the old adage, ‘monkey see, monkey do?’ Sometimes I slip in, ‘thank you Lord… Praise be His Holy Name… Blessed be the Lord, etc. and that son has begun to copy my writing style. Last week, after the Lord granted him a great blessing, he wrote, ‘Thank you God is all I can say. Guess he still loves me although I have no idea why.’ His girlfriend, a non-practising Catholic, loves my stories of the saints too.

Hope this suggestion is helpful. I pray that the Father will shower your children with blessings, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, they may become Christ’s witnesses for His Kingdom. Amen.

(Australian spelling)

I’m afraid I can’t offer much in practical assistance, but some words of encouragement I do have for you.
I was baptized, but church was just somewhere we went on Sundays.
We didn’t really LIVE it.
I became a fallen away catholic. Fallen WAY WAY away.
And then my girls were born.
And I very quickly realized that I ahd been on the very very wrong path.
now my poor husband married an agnostic. And he ended up with a Catholic. HA! Too bad, he’s stuck with me! :slight_smile:
One of the things someone said to me to bring me back was in a conversation a protestant friend was having with an atheist friend about evolution. They asked for my catholic friend’s view on it and she said ‘Uh, yeah, I’m Catholic. We figured that %$^ out in the 11th century, so I don’t really worry about it.’
She was talking about the writings of some saint, I don’t remember who…
But, her statement got me to thinking…I left the church because it didn’t have the answers, but did I really even look?
And then I found out just how many of the most brilliant minds over the last 2,000 years were catholic and I thought then that perhaps this faith deserved a second look.
And now, I’m more ‘Catholic’ than even my own parents!!!
Anyway, just pray and try to answer questions if your children have them.
Buying them some catholic books for christmas or birthdays wouldn’t be a bad idea either. You’d be amazed at what people pick up around their house to read.

Could you possibly refer us to this resource? I would really like to be able to show such a list of “brilliant minds” to my sons.

Unfortunately, all three of my sons have also left the Church (although our only daughter is a nun!). What makes it so difficult for me is that they are very bright. One son, in particular, has made science his new religion. I have tried to offer him (and the others) some books addressed to this issue, but the books were rejected, unread. (Unfortunate, too, is the fact that parents do not always present a united “front” in raising children and, therefore, simple respect can be an issue.)

Perhaps if he could see an actual list of such “brialliant minds” who chose Catholicism, it might be something this son would read. He has argued with me for hours on end and I can usually defend the Church’s position (although it has been very tiring.) He once told me that if God would only reveal Himself - just once - in answer to prayer, he would believe.

Another argument is that there are so many contradictions in the bible and, of course, the greatest argument of all: the problem of evil in the world - how a merciful God could allow so much suffering.

I appreciate all that has been offered here on this topic so far and concur. However, the worry is that each of us is given the gift of free will. I worry that perhaps my intelligent sons’ will may prove too much of a barrier to God’s grace. After all, God never imposes Himself upon any soul. So this is the deepest worry which troubles me about my sons. Since we cannot argue and convince our fallen-away chldren and must rely upon God’s mercy and grace for them, how can we rest assured of their salvation when free will persists despite God’s grace?

The fact remains that there is no assurance that anyone will be saved if he persists in rebellion and sin - refusing God’s grace. This is my greatest sorrow and, considering my failing health, I am broken-hearted at the prospect of dying without seeing my sons return to their only source of help and salvation: the Church He established to help us overcome temptations. :frowning:

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