This is my first post here at CA. I think I’m posting in the right section, but I apologize if I’m not. Moderators, please fell free to move this if I’ve posted in the incorrect area, and I promise to be more careful in the future if this is in fact misposted.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’d like to introduce myself. I’m a 35 year old single man. I was raised Pentecostal, but left the church for years and lived a very sinful life. Several years ago, I started researching the Christian faith, and I came to the conclusion that the Catholic Church is the real Church that was established by Jesus. I attended Mass at several parishes, all of which turned out to be completely heterodox. Of course, I left those parishes and kept looking. I did eventually find a parish that is completely orthodox in what it teaches. I was thrilled when I found this parish, and enrolled in the next available catechesis class. I’ve been at this parish for almost two years. Since then, I’ve joined the choir and have volunteered doing various things, such as cleaning up after the once a month Family Fun Days that are held after Mass on the last Sunday of each month.
Here is the problem though. I don’t have one friend at this parish. When I converted to the Catholic faith, all my friends (literally, all of them) abandoned me. I’ve tried to be friendly and get to know some people at my parish. I haven’t gone overboard, but I’ve been sociable and tried to engage people in conversation at the Family Fun Days and on choir practice days. I’ve had absolutely no luck. From what I’ve observed, the people seem to be very cliquish and unwelcoming towards newcomers at this parish. I’ve spoken to the priest, and he basically blew me off. I don’t plan to speak to him about this again. I realize that the purpose of going to Mass is not to socialize, but Christian fellowship is an important part of the Christian faith, whether Catholic or Protestant. Christian friends can help encourage each other in their walks with Christ, and can be positive influences on each other. I’m a firm believer in the old adage that “no man is an island.” I’ve become so discouraged and so burned out, I haven’t been to Mass in five weeks. I don’t want to go to any of the other local parishes that I’ve attended before, because they’re all so heterodox. I know that missing Mass without a legitimate reason is a mortal sin, but I can’t seem to get myself up on Sunday mornings and go. I feel so unwelcome at my parish and so out of place, I just can’t stand the thought of going. I was just confirmed this Easter (April, 2009), and I never dreamed that it would be so hard just to get involved and meet fellow parishioners. To make matters worse, the parish is small. There are less than 200 families in the parish. There are a handful of singles there, but most of the members are married with children. That may have something to do with it, but I don’t know for sure. I’ve never done or said anything rude to anyone there. In fact, no one really knows me there. I’m at a point of severe discouragement and I sincerely don’t know what to do. It’s crossed my mind to return to my old Protestant church, simply because the people were so friendly and welcoming there. However, I now believe that the Catholic Church is the true Church, so I feel like I’m between a rock and a hard place.
I don’t have the finances to move to another area right now, and I’m not sure I would anyway. Most of my family is here, and I don’t want to leave them. I know this post probably sounds pathetic, but I suppose posting here is my last resort. Has anyone else ever dealt with a situation like this, or is anyone currently dealing with a situation like this? Does anyone have any insight regarding how to deal with this situation? Seriously, not even the people on the choir are friendly. I’ve never experienced this before. I’ve been praying about it for months, but nothing has improved.
I thought that once I was confirmed in April, I would begin meeting and getting to know people and maybe even make a friend. One new convert has already left the parish, another is thinking of leaving (He told me recently), and another comes to Mass, but leaves immediatelty after and has nothing to do with anyone. (There were four of us converts this year.)
I briefly spoke to a young woman at church a few weeks ago and told her how I was feeling. She told me that “this is just how the people are here. They’re not friendly.” She said that she and her family have been attending this parish for six years, and are still ignored by most of the parishioners. They’ve found it nearly impossible to make friends and get to know people, but they stay because they like the priest and enjoy the Mass. It was nice to have my impressions validated, but discouraging to hear from another source that the people here at this parish are indeed unfriendly.
Any insights, anyone?
Just sign me an extremely discouraged new convert.