What is the best way to handle family who think you are too religious? Are there any saints who had to go against their family's wishes (and wrote about their family struggle)?


I’m a convert and my family is evangelical protestant and some non-religious. My protestant family members do not understand certain aspects of Catholicism (celibate life being good and holy, monasteries, cloistered religious, teachings on suffering, obedience to the Church, confession, etc. etc.) and they think I’m too into the faith. It scares them, and I want to be able to help them understand that I haven’t joined some cult or evil oppressive religion, but anything good I say is labelled as coming from brainwashing or something. The only thing they can liken monasteries to are Jonestown and Amish communities, which are obviously very different from the various Catholic communities of celibate people. Evangelicals just don’t have an equivalent to this lifestyle and vocation. Also, “strange” Catholic teachings on sex and contraception also makes this particular subject a little touchy, as well as the child abuse scandals and non acceptance of gay marriage.

My family wants me to be healthy and happy, and to them that means going out to bars like normal people my age, and becoming a doctor or some other successful professional, while applying Christian morality to my life in a moderate way. But that’s not my calling and that’s not how I want to live. I know I have a vocation to some sort of celibate life, and because I’m looking into specific communities now, my family is becoming more uncomfortable. Their own daughter/sister/cousin/niece becoming a sister or lay apostolate? They can’t believe it. Going off to live away from my family, without a husband or career? It is so… not protestant. I love my family very much and want especially my mother to be at least comfortable with the direction my life is going. But if they can’t accept who God is shaping me to be, and I believe religious life is where God truly wants me to be then I’ll go join a community regardless of what my family thinks.

But how can I help them understand? What is the best way to handle the situation? Is there a saint who has writings or something about how his family didn’t want him to live in a radically different way? I’m just looking for some advice and an example on how to move forward with my vocation while respecting my family and trying to make this easier for them. I don’t want to cut them off and I don’t want them to feel cut off. But at the same time, I gotta do what I gotta do.


Well, Ignatius of Loyola is the patron saint of discernment, so he seems relevant to your situation. I think saint John De Matha is the patron saint of the persecuted, so he might also be a good option. Also, there’s always Mary or the patron saint of the specific religious order you’re thinking of, if there is one.

I can’t really offer any help with your family, since they sound rather biased and I have no experience in that regard, so I will leave that to God and more experienced forum-goers.


Servant of God, Elisabeth LeSeur is another. :slight_smile:

Elisabeth was born in Paris to a wealthy bourgeois French family of Corsican descent. She met Félix Leseur (1861–1950), also from an affluent, Catholic family in 1887. Shortly before they married on July 31, 1889, Elisabeth discovered that Félix was no longer a practicing Catholic.

Though he continued to practice medicine, Dr. Félix Leseur and soon became well known as the editor of an anti-clerical, atheistic newspaper in Paris. Despite his pledge to respect Elisabeth’s religious beliefs, as his hatred of the Catholic faith grew he soon began to question, undermine, and ridicule Elisabeth’s faith.

In his memoirs, Félix describes how his efforts to “enlighten” Elisabeth nearly succeeded. He had persuaded Elisabeth to read Ernest Renan’s Life of Jesus with the expectation that it would finally shatter her last remaining loyalties to Catholicism. Instead, he records that she was “struck by the poverty of substance” on which the arguments were based and was inspired to devote herself to her own religious education.

Soon, their home was filled with two libraries. One, a library devoted to the justifications of atheism and the second to the lives of the saints and the intellectual arguments in favor of Christ and Catholic Church. Félix was frustrated to discover that his challenges to her faith had actually led her to become not only more grounded in her beliefs, but more fervent and determined to become holy.
Excerpted from this link: stmaryvalleybloom.org/homilygoodfriday2011.html

A longer biography of Servant of God Elisabeth is here: faculty.fordham.edu/ruffing/Elizabeth%20Leseur%20A%20Strangely%20Forgotten%20Modern%20Saint.pdf

And here is a book: The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur: The Woman Whose Goodness Changed Her Husband from Atheist to Priest

Book overview: This inspiring book gives you a splendid example of how to live as a Christian in a secular environment that can be indifferent or hostile to your Faith.



St. Thomas had to go against his family’s wishes to become a Dominican


Let us not forget St. Francis of Assisi. He went through a lot, he was even locked up by his father.

I’m sorry you are going through this. Many people experience the same, you are not alone. It sounds like you have a strong faith and are willing to go where God is calling you. Your family will find a way to deal with this, even if it takes some time. Just pray that God takes care of them and handles this.


Do what God is calling you to do. Don’t try to convince your family with words, convince them with action. If you join a religious community, always welcome your family into your home and avoid conversations that would lead to discourse. Lead by example. You want to evangelize your family by showing them how to live a truly Christian life and that’s through Catholicism. Remember, as a Catholic we are all your family.

Jesus answered, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” He looked at the people sitting around him and said, “Look. Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does what God wants is my brother, my sister, my mother.”-Mark 3:33-35

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