Need advice about leaving the Church

I was raised Catholic and have been one my whole life, on and off. I lived in a state with a large Catholic population and when I moved 15 years ago, it was to the Bible Belt where there are few Catholics and one church. I didn’t even go to church for two years because I didn’t know where it was. I didn’t try that hard to find it either. Where I lived before, I had four churches within driving distance to choose from.

At any rate, it has not been a good experience from the start. I never felt welcomed. No one even spoke to me for a year. I went to Confession of course. The priest was okay. Kind of moody.

The services were alien to me. They go on and on for over an hours. At the end, before the final blessing, the priest asks if there are any visitors, birthdays or anniversaries. We have to applaud for each one. There are other strange (to me) customs like this. There are only a few people doing anything and they run everything. The same family takes up the gifts every week at the service I go to. This is another custom. The Mass is being said for one of their family. I think they bought a year’s worth.

We recently got a new priest. I really like him. He seems very upbeat and spiritual. A few people actually talk to me now if they can’t find someone else close by and escape. I am not exagerating any of this.

I had gone to Confession with the new priest. I need to go often, I feel. He encouraged me to in fact. The problem is he said he would be there at 3 pm every Saturday but the next time I went he wasn’t there until 3:25. He says the rosary at 3:30 before Mass. This is another custom but it seems normal at least. I should mention we’re in the church hall because our church is undergoing an addition. So Confession is in the kitchen and people lurk outside. I’ve seen them do it and ask who’s in there. I asked Father if I could go to Confession. I rushed through it like a maniac so he could say the rosary because everyone made it clear they weren’t happy I was upsetting the schedule. Well, if he’s not there at 3 pm, I can’t go then, can I? I haven’t gone since. He doesn’t do appointments either. I forgot half of what I wanted to say too.

Today was the final straw. Before the final blessing, he told all the mothers to stand up. Any kind of mother so no women were left out. I am not a mother but I stood up. He walked around sprinkling holy water and when he got to me, he deliberately skipped me. I don’t think he knows if I’m a mother or not. He hasn’t been there that long and there were other women who weren’t mothers who got blessed.

I don’t even know what that’s about.

My question is if I leave this church will I be in grave sin. There are a lot of Protestant churches that are very Christian in attitude. I need spiritual guidance and there is no way I’m ever going to get it at this church. Not to mention, going to Mass is now something I dread and don’t look forward to any more.

There is no point in talking to anyone there about this. Trust me on that. I will always be a Catholic in my heart but I need a real church to go to. I wish I was a good enough Christian to not let any of this bother me but I’m not. It’s making me miserable and conflicted as to what to do. I get nothing out of the Mass anymore. I don’t even know why I’m there.

You got that blessing even without the water! (I’ve been skipped over too and I agree it does not feel good.)

I have noticed that the priests are inconsistent about keeping the confessional schedule. Don’t feel alone on that, once I drove miles to get to the church and waited for the priest, and he showed up later there, but said it was cancelled! (There was bad weather that day, a snow storm.)

The greatest value is in the sacraments even though the people are not nice. Since a Catholic does not fulfill the Mass obligation or have access to the sacraments without a Catholic Church, you will not have that elsewhere, so I would not recommend going to a Protestant community instead.

You don’t understand. We are in the hall. I was in a group of four chairs at the back. The priest came down one side. I turned to him. He looked at me and walked to the other side where there was another woman and sprinkled her directly so it didn’t even come close to landing on me. It was deliberate.

It’s making me feel like I have some kind of black aura that everyone but me sees. I am not a particularly good person but I’m not an ax murderer either. And if I were, wouldn’t it be more Christian to try to convert me?

Confession isn’t even like a sacrament to me when I’m just babbling because I have to finish in three minutes and there are people listening to me.

Getting snubbed is the least of it. It’s a small community. I’ve noticed they often start acting like families.

I really, really never want to set foot in that church again. It is that bad. Or I feel that bad. I don’t think God would condemn me either. If there were another church, it wouldn’t be an issue but there’s not.

Hi! I ask this with love and respect. Are you entirely certain that this is completely about the other people, or is it possible that you are also (without meaning to) contributing to your negative experience?

In any case, I pray that your situation improves. :gopray:

Go for mass, thats it. And dont commit a mortal sin anytime soon because you obviously dislike confession there. in the meantime, fine another catholic church or plan to move. My humble advice.

Perhaps try a different catholic parish

I find it odd that you stood up with the mothers for their special blessing because you are not a mother, as you stated. The priest may have thought that, too, knowing that you are not a “mother.” As for confession, you might try another church unless you feel that you are in mortal sin. Peace and comfort to you as well as my prayers.

Find another parish. I live in the South, and there are not ALOT of churches by standards of other areas in the country, and I drive a distance to my parish.
It’s worth it.
Nothing would keep me from the Holy Eucharist. So ignore me. Got cliques? Whatevs. Bring it on. I’m there for Jesus. If I make friends, that’s a bonus.
Focus on Jesus if you can. If you can’t, move your membership to another parish.

I probably am to a certain extent. I was completely ostracized for at least a year so I may come off as being wary. I go out of my way to smile and say hi regardless of how others act. They’ll talk to me now. No bffs in that group though.

Roger that about confession. I’ve found it’s actually not possible to go to confession there since I don’t know when it is and the priest doesn’t take appointments for it. I really don’t care about the eavesdropping. That’s on them not me. I’d never do that myself. I’ve actually thought about moving but I can’t afford it.

The next nearest church is fifty miles away and it’s a really small congregation. I have no idea what it’s like. It may be worse because a lot of this stuff is cultural. Not trying to make excuses but if I went and it was even more bizarre and the people were even less friendly than I’d really lose all hope. At least now I have hope I could go back someday and start over. I realize that does sound ridiculous but five years of this has gotten to me.

Normally I wouldn’t and I haven’t in the past. The priest sounded like he wanted all the women to stand up. He said “All the mothers and god mothers and any kind of mothers” and then laughed. I don’t see how he knows if I have children or not. I’m older and they could be living elsewhere. Other women who don’t have children stood up so it’s not just me and he did bless them.

I live in Appalachia. There isn’t a lot of anything.

I know this all sounds like excuses and like I’m just looking for a reason. It’s kind of like you have to go through it to really understand. I’m tough and I can put up with a lot but it’s just worn me down now. I just may not be as strong a Catholic as I thought I was.


There must be something. A monastery even, a retreat center. You have to investigate the options. Call the Diocese and ask for a map, maybe there is one online. There’s lovely ones in Kentucky, although you didn’t say what state you are in. Also, you must not be the ONLY person looking for a parish. Maybe you could share a ride with someone and ease the burden of commuting.
Good luck . You’re in my prayers.

Understood. Well then my advice: Just keep strong and make sure you dont lose faith because of some priest who appears to be a jerk. Keep strong sister!

The reason I asked what I did is that, by nature I’m an introverted person, and I go to Mass to worship, ask forgiveness, and give thanks. It is a communal (and at the same time, deeply personal) thing.

So I am left wondering if I’ve given others the feeling that they weren’t welcome only because I’m deeply absorbed in introspective contemplation.

Hopefully, for the OP’s sake, there are enough parish activities for her/him to join in to alleviate the alienation.

Well stated. Sometimes, at my overly enthusiastic parish, people say that I’m not “with it” if I’m not running around giving peace, lots of hand motions, grinning from ear to ear.
It’s just not my style . I’m more introspective. My life is really busy, I like the peace that I find in the Mass. I need it, in fact. I’ll be happy to hug and kiss everyone later. :wink:
I get what you’re saying. A quiet demeanor doesn’t mean one is unfriendly.
That’s why some folks go for the other churches. Because they’re looking for human contact.
I’m looking for the One who reaches down from heaven. Not necessarily across the aisle.

The only thought I have is making an appointment with the priest and telling him that you are thinking of leaving the Church because of the parishioners behavior (and his.) It seems to me that you are in an awkward situation of having to drive 50 miles to the next parish. I don’t know how I would function if I didn’t have the option of dropping in on another parish.:blush: I hope you find another parish soon.

I’m sure I don’t understand. That is really unfortunate and small minded of that group to exclude you. Still, it is not normal for a Catholic to attend a non-Catholic church because it is can be perceived as indifferentism. If if is morally impossible for you to attend the Cathlolic parish, then besides avoiding work on Sundays as usual, you could observe Sunday and Holy Days in you own way with scripture, and there are some online Masses that can be watched. Would you be able to find a way to get to confession and Eucharist sometime, somewhere?

Yes! When I’m at Mass, it is the one hour of the week that I can experience the Sacred without “the world” intruding. It feels very safe and peaceful for me. So, what others could possibly perceive as unfriendliness is merely my need to have a time with my Creator. After Mass, however (like you), I’m quite happy to offer greetings to anyone I come across.

It sounds perfectly dreadful. I will keep you in my prayers. I have no suggestions.

Dear gone astray,

My family moved me to the deep South from Boston at 15. Thank God things things have gotten better over these many years. But it took me years to learn how to adapt while I watched other girls just roll with the flow.

Even though this is a Catholic Church it’s likely been significantly influenced by the Southern Protestant culture as has the area I moved to in North Florida.

I know for sure these people will embrace you when you join in in the life of the church.
If they host a pot-luck you bring a dish it doesn’t even need to be homemade or you could offer to help them prepare meals in the kitchen. But most importantly take part in one of their programs i.e. Bible study, youth ministry, etc.

They are treating you like an outsider because that’s where you are. But I promise you based on my years of experience it will work. At that point even the pastor will not shun you any longer.

Gods peace be with you,


Me too!!! In the Bible Belt, with no Catholic church here at all. We have to go 1.5 hours to a parish church, which luckily is a wonderful parish :slight_smile: When we can’t get there, we go to a mission chapel, where the people are very nice, but there are minor problems with the liturgy and the occasional problem with the homilies… it just all adds up to a very stressful time for me when we have ti go there.

And I did skip Mass one time because of this and oddly enough went to Confession to a very good sympathetic confessor the following week. And he told me even if I had all these problems with the place, it was still Mass and I still had to go; those were not sufficient reasons to not go. Sigh.

Because we live so far from the church, it was hard for us to join things, bit what we did helped a lot: we would stay to help clean up after events. This is often a task volunteers are not as interested in, so the ladies were very happy to have our help!

I would go and talk with the priest about the problems you have noticed. It’s easy in a small town to get into certain patterns and not realize that they are unwelcoming.

The confession thing is tricky. If he is the only priest around, sometimes he may be called away for Last Rites, and he can’t schedule that. Since we drive so far, for a while we had an arrangement with the priest for confession so he would let us know if he’s be unable to be there. But he should not be erratic except for a serious reason like that. And he should be clarifying to people that they should respect the privacy of those in the Confessional! So talk with him about this.

I know that some priests have all the ladies stand up for the Mother’s Day blessing, and he should have been very clear and not done that with the sprinkling.

So, keep on going, and offer up whatever suffering you experience as you think about Christ’s sufferings for us.

You just got into a community where everyone was raised together and went to school together. They don’t see you as a Catholic, they see you as an outsider. Why are you there anyway? Do you try to get acquainted? I’ve been in my parish for over 30 years, and I’m a bachelor. Some of the people will stop and pass a few words. But that’s about it. I volunteer but it only helps while I’m actually " on the job. " I just figure there must be something wrong with me.

I don’t think these people are mean, I think they are backward. Go back where you feel more comfortable.


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