Is Catholicism more of a family thing than a personal thing?

It seems to me that Catholicism is more of a family thing than a personal faith thing. Many people who identify themselves as Catholics seem to be Catholics, because their families have been Catholic for generations, and these Catholic families marry other Catholic families, however nominal/lapsed/non-observant they are. Catholic evangelistic efforts, like the ones at my alma mater (a public university), seem to be geared towards lapsed/nominal/non-observant Catholics. There may be Catholic converts, but as far as I know, these converts typically have Christian backgrounds or are adherents to one of the Abrahamic religions.

Anyway, how many people actually convert to Catholicism nowadays, willingly, as fully consenting adults without Catholic, or even Christian, or even Abrahamic ancestry? Out of the Abrahamic religions, those peoples are known as pagans. So, I am asking how many people nowadays convert to Catholicism from generations-old paganisms?

I speak as an one-and-a-half-generation American with Chinese ancestry on both sides of the family. No Christian background for me, my parents, or my grandparents, but at least I know for certain that my grandparents were nonreligious atheists. Beyond my grandparents, I am not entirely sure what religious faiths they were. My father’s side of the family is from the rural countryside, so it is likely that they may practice traditional Chinese religion, but that’s mostly conjectural.

Don’t forget that there a lot of “reverts”. Well, some have left the faith, gone to church after church, returned to the beginning, but not necessarily because this time because they had explored other churches, and decided the other churches weren’t for them. Those returned to the faith often due to their research and experiences which led them back to the Church.

It is difficult to transition from paganism to Catholicism. I am not sure of the statistics, but it seems like it wouldn’t be easy. I think an easier transition is from Christian denominations which are similar.

Catholicism is rather a “Church” thing.

Catholics don’t have the idea of a “personal Lord and Savior” (and there is no such phrase or concept in the Bible). We believe that God’s primary interaction is through the Christian community (Church). That’s why we gather together to celebrate the Sacraments, which are the primary means by which God grants Grace. There is no Sacrament that we can perform on ourselves. We can’t Baptize ourselves. A priest cannot grant himself absolution. We must come together to celebrate the Sacraments, even if our numbers are small.

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. [Matt 18:20, emphasis mine]

That’s not to say that Catholics cannot have a personal relationship with Our Lord. But many Catholics would not even agree on what “personal relationship” means. And the Church does not offer a definition, or teach that a “personal” relationship is required for salvation.

(FWIW, theologically, there is no reason why a priest cannot celebrate Eucharist by himself, but he is prohibited from doing so by Canon Law.)

Granted, I am a Catholic revert of sorts. I was very laxly raised in SSPX as a young child. I came back to it very recently. But, it is not exactly a family faith. My dad only went to church to keep up appearances for his own family, and even that did not last. I am a Catholic in a completely atheist household.

I agree with the above poster. The Catholic faith is a faith of the unified Church, which is basically a family in Christ. The Catholic Church is family-oriented, but that certainly does not mean people do not often convert from all walks of life. Rather, what you might be seeing is that the Catholic faith is passed down more often than other Christian faiths, and so compared to the rest it seems that there are an awful lot of Catholics compared to other denominations.

When Catholicism becomes merely a “family thing” then it’s no longer Catholicism.

We are called to conversion, personally. We are called to pray, privately and corporally. We are called to examine our conscience

Many people who identify themselves as Catholics seem to be Catholics, because their families have been Catholic for generations, and these Catholic families marry other Catholic families, however nominal/lapsed/non-observant they are.

This is good when their parents and other family members have been good examples. It is ideal and natural to want to be like your mom and dad, but sad and a hard trial to overcome doubting parents, or even hypocratical parents.

Catholic evangelistic efforts, like the ones at my alma mater (a public university), seem to be geared towards lapsed/nominal/non-observant Catholics. There may be Catholic converts, but as far as I know, these converts typically have Christian backgrounds or are adherents to one of the Abrahamic religions.

That’s probably true to a large degree. In this sense, We maybe need to be better at relating the fundamentals about our need for Jesus and personal witness to what Jesus has done through our faith.

Anyway, how many people actually convert to Catholicism nowadays, willingly, as fully consenting adults without Catholic, or even Christian, or even Abrahamic ancestry? Out of the Abrahamic religions, those peoples are known as pagans. So, I am asking how many people nowadays convert to Catholicism from generations-old paganisms?

Not sure about general numbers. I personally converted, but I was raised Non Denominational Christian, and yes, I personally believed. :wink:

I speak as an one-and-a-half-generation American with Chinese ancestry on both sides of the family. No Christian background for me, my parents, or my grandparents, but at least I know for certain that my grandparents were nonreligious atheists. Beyond my grandparents, I am not entirely sure what religious faiths they were. My father’s side of the family is from the rural countryside, so it is likely that they may practice traditional Chinese religion, but that’s mostly conjectural.

You bring some good points to attention. One thing that always is good to remember, is to look at the possibility of a both/and view of things… One Body and many individual members.

Our faith is a “culture” of its own if we live it out each day with our families, friends, and neighbors. People, even if they aren’t particularly devout, find comfort and acceptance in identifying with their own group.

The world tends to see it this way also. Many people think all Israelis are Jews. In fact, the country is quite diverse and protects freedom of religion forcefully. Not all Jews (cultural) are Jews (religiously).

People identify themselves as they see fit. I wish “Catholic” always meant practicing Catholic and that “practicing” meant the same thing to every “Catholic”. We can only minister by our example and through GENTLE admonitions to those in our intimate circle who are not devout.

What matters is that we live up to the name!

Welcome to these poor boards, HJ3822.

I’ve seen this tendency among other faiths as well - my Jewish friends who won’t adhere to most of the teachings or go to Temple, but who will keep a kosher diet. My Methodist cousins, whose parents were converts and are very fervent in their faith but the kids have no real interest or identity. They’re nominally “Christian” they tell us, while they moved to Colorado with their boyfriends so they could get easy access to marijuana. I’m serious on this one - the teachings there just got ignored. So it’s not just Catholics who suffer from lapsed or lukewarm members who self-identify but rarely self-regulate.

This is a major evangelistic push in the Church today. You made an astute observation.

I’ve seen successful programs (our old parish brought in nearly 30 converts one year at Easter through RCIA, which was unheard-of) and unsuccessful ones (our current parish, which had a shorter Easter this year with no one to baptize or confirm).

I don’t know if such statistics are kept. Depending on how you define pagan, there are not that many in the West, where modern-day pagans are more often converts to a pagan faith (one of my best friends - a former Catholic though he still professes to be Catholic - is priest of one of the largest Wiccan organizations in the State). Where non-Abrahamic faiths are more pronounced - China, Burma, Thailand, India - you see more conversions from a pagan or even monotheistic non-Abrahamic faith to Catholicism. You also see an entirely different dynamic - consider the internecine violence in India.

Given your Chinese background, you probably have better access to this kind of information than we would, but I don’t think it easy to come by. Because you have brought it to mind, I will pray for Chinese Christians who continue to be persecuted for not adhering to the government faith (the Patriotic Churches).

I converted because of my grandmother’s death. Everyone in the family was Catholic until my mother married my father. My husband and I identified as Christians when we married but didn’t attend after our baptist church wedding. 13 yeas later, boom! God’s call became too loud for me to continue ignoring. I have brought my children into the Church and we attend as a family but I still need that VERY PERSONAL connection and growth that I only get from rabid book/bible study and attending daily mass alone. I also need the feedback and support from others in small groups, sharing God moments, personal struggles, etc. I had a lot of that in RCIA and then CHRP.

I think that when it becomes something we only do as a family or only to be social, we can lose that personal connection. We lose sight of why we’re Catholic. We tend to walk away when the social aspect wanes and that hurts our parishes and our Church overall. We have to persevere even when we don’t know anyone, when we’re on vacation, when we don’t like the parish/priest… I can’t give up on bringing my husband into the Church even when he seems to be bordering on atheism. I was the same way before my grandmother’s death and God never gave up on me. I can’t give up on defending the faith to our family members who were raised anti-Catholic and continue to hear messages about the “evil” and “archaic” Catholic Church.

When I came in last year, I was accompanied by an Asian woman in her 60’s whose parents and (if I remember correctly) siblings were Buddist. They sent her to Catholic school for the academics, morals, and structure, not expecting that she would want to become Catholic. I believe she shared that God called her for many many years. Boy, was she overjoyed to finally become Christian by receiving baptism, confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist! Over the years, several of her family members have come into the Church - siblings, children, grandchildren…

This is why I’m Catholic. #34

Jesus started only one Church in the 1st century and as promised, 2000 years later, not even the gates of hell has prevailed against it nor will it ever. Why would I be in anything else but the Catholic Church

No body is forced to convert. What good is it anyway to do something against a person’s will. The truth of the Catholic position is compelling enough on its own.

All kinds of people from all backgrounds convert worldwide…

Well you’re here, and you’re asking questions. I see that as a good thing. :slight_smile:

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