I apologize if this is not the correct forum for this post. I looked through each forum and this one seemed to best fit with my situation. Sorry for the length also, I tried to be brief but I felt I needed to explain myself a bit.
I am a professional woman in my early 30s, Jewish by birth though I was never religious nor connected with the Jewish community. I consider myself an agnostic.
I grew up in abject poverty. My mother had untreated mental illness and we were homeless/transients much of the time. Some of my earliest memories were of the Missionaries of Charity who had a shelter and soup kitchen in our city. We accessed their services and they were very kind to me.
After my mother’s death I was placed in foster care. I had problems with running away so I went through quite a few homes. When I would run off I would often go back to the Missionaries of Charity, who then would have to call the authorities to pick me up. I think I was quite problematic for them, though in retrospect I was just looking for something familiar.
A priest who frequented the convent/shelter took an interest in me. Ultimately he arranged for me to attend a private school for girls run by the Ursuline Sisters. I thrived there, the sisters and other staff were amazing. I graduated at 16 and went straight to university on a scholarship, where I studied computer science and robotics. I recently obtained my PhD. I’ve never married as I’m pretty much a geeky tech type of person and I’m “married” to my work. I have not kept in touch with any of the sisters or the priest.
Two months ago I started a position in a new city. One of the first things I noticed in my neighborhood was a Catholic church very near my apartment. The church bells ring every day at regular intervals and can be heard from my balcony. I drive by the church on my way to work. A sign outside says there is daily mass at 7 am.
I can’t explain the how or why, but I feel extremely drawn to attend mass. This has gone on for several weeks now. During Easter week I was very conflicted and agitated, I had trouble eating and sleeping, which is very unusual for me. All sorts of good memories of the sisters and the priest have come flooding back, things I haven’t thought of for years. I’m suddenly feeling a tremendous amount of gratitude for everything they did for me, and guilt at not keeping in touch with them. I’m considering writing them all to thank them and let them know I am well.
Yesterday I confided in a close friend regarding recent events. She is an atheist so naturally her response was not a favourable one. She is a psychologist by training, and is of the opinion that I am simply reacting to my recent move - that I am looking to relive some positive aspects of my childhood, the church building nearby is triggering me, and so forth. She’s advised me to avoid the church and see a therapist instead.
So, I am asking you, as Catholics, what do you think? Is my friend right? Should I avoid the Church or should I try mass and see what happens? I know a bit about the teachings of the Church; to be perfectly honest, some aspects are appealing to me and others are not. I worry I would be attending for the wrong reasons, as my friend suggests. I also do not want to be unintentionally disrespectful to the church, with being an agnostic. Though, lately I feel open to changing my beliefs.
Thank you in advance for any and all responses.