Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I Feel Like A Traitor

I was born Catholic – or at least baptized Catholic at an early age – and raised Catholic, including going to Catholic schools until 8th grade. I taught Sunday School when I was in high school. I got married in the Catholic church, baptized both my infants Catholic, and joined my local Catholic church when I moved to my new home two years ago, sad as I was to leave my old parish.

But now, I’m thinking of leaving. (Yep, I'm venturing into the waters of one of those three topics.)

I don’t particularly like the priest of the local church. I can’t really find anything to complain about, necessarily, but there’s just something about him that rubs me the wrong way. That, in and of itself, isn’t enough to drive me away, as there are visiting priest and other deacons, etc presiding frequently enough.

Another issue, if you will, is that this parish is really over the top. It is absolutely huge. It’s massive and very impersonal, in my mind. On an average Sunday, there are 750 people at 11am Mass. I’m sure much of it is my fault, but I don’t feel a part of the community there (forget the fact that I play on their softball team – in a way that isn’t at all connected in my mind, since I never see those women in church).

I am finally drawing the line at religious education. When I was growing up, I went to Catholic school, so my religious education was embedded in my school day. Those who didn’t attend Catholic school went to CCD (and took things from my desk, but I digress).

When joining our new parish, I spoke with the person who oriented us (orientated is not a word and one of my pet peeves) to the church. I discovered there that it was now called Religious Education (and I think there had been a name between that and CCD). However, disconcerting to me, the woman knew nothing about it and didn’t have a contact to give me. I looked into it on my own and discovered that it began yearly in September and started when children were 3 by that September.

Cool, Mister Man was going to start getting a religious education this year. Then, I heard nothing about it all last summer. I finally heard about the new program in a homily in August. They were introducing “Generations of Faith” which met 6 Wednesdays a year from 6-8:30 and included dinner together and then splitting out by age group for appropriate activities. The whole family was included versus just the children.

My problems with this:

1) In my mind, religious education needs to be reinforced far more often than 6 times per year, and I’m sorry but I don’t have the time or talent to do it weekly on my own (nor would it be effective, I don’t think – peer pressure is key)

2) My children go to bed between 6 and 7. Having things go – on a school night no less – until 8:30 just wasn’t feasible for me.

3) Generations of faith has no program or activity for those under age 4. Little Miss can’t stay with the adults but has nowhere to go, so we can’t participate.

4) This will sound bad, but the religious education is for the wee ones, not for me. I’ve been through it all, and I get it, but I’m private about my faith and have no interest in discussing it with others. I don’t want to do Generations of Faith.

Sooo I’ve been slowly exploring the idea of finding another church. As I looked more into Generations of Faith, I discovered that this is a Catholic thing and that all churches will eventually go this route if they haven’t already. That somewhat rules out Catholicism for my family if I want to have a base in faith without sending them to Catholic school, which isn’t going to happen for multiple reasons.

The closest church to me is actually the preschool that Little Miss will go to next year. It’s Episcopal, which I know little about other than it was formed thanks to an egomaniacal king. I don’t know how similar it is to Catholicism, but I do know that they do Sunday School (I love websites).

So I called over there this morning and spoke with the temporary minister, who is a divorced woman (she asked if I was sitting down before divulging that, which I thought was funny). I spent about a half hour on the phone with her, and she was really great. Obviously, I didn’t get all the answers or near all the answers from her in that short conversation, but we’re going to set up coffee or lunch some day soon to chat more.

This Sunday, we’re going to try to attend a service there. I did get a few of the service details from her, and there will definitely be differences from what I’m used to. I have only been to services with the Eucharist at the rail a couple times, but this is a normal Episcopalian thing. And the 8:05 service has no singing. The 10:15 service has singing, but she said something about the choir taking the summer off, so maybe the congregation doesn’t sing at all but just listens.

I don’t know that becoming Episcopalian is the right move for us, but there are a number of positive aspects, not the least of which is the Sunday school that meets for ages 3 and up throughout the school year. And the smaller community that is a community, according to the minister.

If this church doesn’t work out, then I’m on to looking at other options, as there are at least five churches in town of varying religions. I do hope this one works out though. Any suggestions as I start my search for a new religion for my family?


Steph May 22, 2008 at 2:50 PM  

Ok are we sisters separated at birth? I am having the exact same issue. However I have you beat on the whole RE/CCD or whatever the heck they are calling it this week. We don't have anything for kids will they are in 1st grade. A bit late if you ask me. I have thought of dabbling and I have made the move to a Methodist preschool for Jackson due to the fact it is close and they have chapel once a week. Please keep me posted on how you are fairing as I am very interested and this is something I cannot discuss with my mom or in laws.

Michelle May 22, 2008 at 9:49 PM  

Steph -- it's actually really nice to know that I'm not the only one. Little Miss will be going to the Episcopal preschool next year and a Presbyterian one this year (the Catholic preschool doesn't start until an older age). Mister Man though is in the school district, so no religious ed for him. It's hard if you can't discuss it with others... but I'll definitely let you know how this experience goes!

Green & Clean Mom May 24, 2008 at 10:00 PM  

My husband was raised Catholic and I converted and we baptised our kids Catholic. I'm not sure why I did this. I wanted us to all the same religion and unified but now I'm not so sure I did the right thing. We almost never go to church because it's too large, impersonal and no nursery. I do not think kids should have to sit for an hour and a half and listen to stuff they cannot understand. It goes against my education on child development. I don't hear anything b/c I'm busy occupying and hushing the kids. It's nothing but stress and that isn't what church should be about. I'm wanting to venture out and try something new but I think the inlaws would pass out as would most of our friends. The stress!

I feel your pain.

Michelle May 24, 2008 at 10:03 PM  

Green And Clean Mom -- I hear you. Fortunately, my husband and I were both raised Catholic so that wasn't an issue for us. However, when I mentioned to him that I'd spoken to the pastor and wanted to go to the Episcopal service tomorrow, he looked at me like I'd grown three heads. I swear I'd mentioned this all to him and we'd had a conversation, but tomorrow is much more of an experiment than I'd thought. And who knows how his parents would feel. And I don't know yet what is involved in converting to another religion (as I believe Catholicism and Judaism are the two more stringent ones). But I'm SO with you on the hushing and not getting anything from it until they're older and can absorb and have a base to absorb it into. So tomorrow, we try it out!

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