Done.

by Kate Henley Averett

My heart is so heavy right now, I’d swear it was causing serious damage to my other internal organs. I feel like I can’t quite catch my breath. It’s not quite that I can’t breathe, but that I can’t seem to be able to breathe deeply enough, like if I could just get one giant gulp of air in my body would feel better, normal, not so tight, not so heavy.

Do Catholics who leave the Church always feel like this? Like they can’t breathe, like their heart is simultaneously going to burst and turn to lead in their chest? I confess I envy people who speak of being an ex-Catholic with an air of lightness in their voice. I wish it were so easy. Is it really easy for them? Was it easy when it happened? Did it really just “happen,” like one moment they were Catholic and the next, nope, they’d made up their mind, they were done? Because it’s not working like that for me. Several times these last weeks I’ve pronounced that I’m done – actually said those words, to my wife, to my mom, to my sister – and yet I don’t feel done. I feel like I’m still trying to make some decision, standing at the edge of the pool trying to work up the nerve to jump in, not being able to decide which is more terrifying, jumping in or chickening out.

You’ll have to forgive my overuse and overlap of metaphors here, but I’m having a hard time thinking in linear, straightforward terms. But I’m feeling these days like I’m in the midst of a breakup, you know, the really horrible kind where you know it isn’t going to work but you want it to so badly that every fifteen minutes you manage to get yourself entirely convinced that it actually can work, only to remember five minutes later why it can’t, only to repeat the cycle over and over and over until it makes you crazy and you can barely remember who you are let alone the reasons why you’re breaking up. And all the while you feel like you can’t catch your breath, because even while you’re certain you can’t keep living like this, you’re almost equally as certain that you’ll suffocate without them. Almost.

I wake up in the morning to the sounds of radio news reports, new reports every day, of the abuse perpetrated by priests and covered up by the hierarchy (in order to save the Church from embarrassment?!) and I just want to cry and go back to sleep and forget it’s happening, in part because I feel complicit – this is my Church, we’re all one body, when the eye suffers does not the hand suffer too, and when the hand reaches out and abuses another does not the whole body participate in that abuse? – and in part because it reminds me that this is the end for us, that gulf between me and the institutional Church has widened too much and has reached the point of irreparable damage, and that sooner rather than later I’m going to have to deal with it. This is what the term “irreconcilable differences” means, I guess. I no longer look to the Church and see any of my values, my priorities, my convictions reflected back at me. Sure, it’s in the teachings, oh the teachings that I love so much, the social encyclicals, the preferential option for the poor, the stuff that has inspired those who have inspired me, the liberation theologians and Dorothy Day and well, if the Church was good enough for them perhaps I can still make it work? But I’m deluding myself if I think that the teachings of the Church are the Church, for there is nothing, nothing, NOTHING of the preferential option for the poor in this scandal, there’s not justice in the hierarchy’s response, there isn’t even the slightest display of concern for the powerless and I just can’t find Jesus anywhere in all of it, not anywhere at all. And I’m actually crying as I write these words because there is so much about this tradition that I hold so dear, and I feel like I’m abandoning the real Church, the people of God, my fellow sisters and brothers, but at the same time I’ve had enough. Enough. Enough.

I’m just too worn down. I’m tired of explaining how one can’t ever stop being Catholic and of talking of my formed conscience and the terrible beauty of holding in tension one’s love for the Church and one’s distaste for certain teachings because it’s getting harder and harder to convince myself, let alone others. I’m sure I believed it once, that I could remain a Catholic despite the institutional Church, but my ever-tenuous conviction has faded fast these last few weeks. This place has become too foreign to me, and I can no longer call it home. And I’m so, so sad about that. My heart is so heavy it feels like it’s crushing me. I can’t catch my breath. But I won’t be able to catch it if I stay. And I might be able to, if I go. So, standing at the edge of the pool, I jump.

I’m done.

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25 Responses

  1. Hi Kate,
    Your description of how hard it is to break up with someone is so spot on that I get exactly what you mean even though my experience of leaving the church was very different. In fact, if you had asked me before I read this I would have said, “Yes. It is that easy. I just walked away. I went to college and never cam back, no hard feelings but see you later.” That’s not really what happened though and it was this post that made me remember.
    When I was 16 I went to a church retreat for confirmation. I was really struggling with the decision to get confirmed. I felt like most people were just sort of breezing through the whole thing with no deep questions about God and His place in their world. I’ve never been that breezy and I certainly wasn’t about this. But I knew that the Church’s idea of God was no longer making sense to me. I straight out did not believe that the birth of Jesus was miraculous – at least not any more so than any other birth. Rather, I was beginning to think it was miraculous that such an intelligent and revolutionary man came out of a society so restrictive that Mary’s only chance at having her illegitimate child accepted was by claiming divine intervention. Clearly, she was a smart woman and she went ahead and passed on the power of story-telling as a way of making complicated messages easier to understand.
    Anyway, I digress. The point is, I was brought to tears many times that weekend as I considered my beliefs versus those of the Church, theological, political, practical, etc. I finally went to confession and told the priest that I doubted the existence of the Lord. He was kind to me – I was sobbing at this point – and gave me a clean handkerchief and told me that it was okay, everyone doubted. He said he knew I believed and I should just hold tight to that. Somehow him telling me he knew I believed was the turning point for me. I realized that this nice old man knew nothing about me or what I thought or believed or cared about.
    I did get confirmed. I wasn’t brave enough to explain to my family that I didn’t think I would ever come to adulthood in the Church and I loved my friends from Youth Ministry and feared being cast aside from that group. But it was already over for me. By the time I went to college I had already left. My breezy dismissals in my 20s, my explanations that I was culturally Catholic, my careful attention to explaining that not all Catholics are crazy and not all priests are pedophiles — these things all came later, developed carefully over the years. But that initial break was hard. Very hard. And I think it is a testament to how deeply you have thought about, felt, and struggled with all aspects of the Catholic faith and of faith in general – in God, in the Church, in Life, in your Important People – that this time is so painful.
    Time heals all and your relationship with the Church will not always be fraught with the pain and questioning that it is right now. Like all difficult transitions, this one will cause you to grow and learn new things and new ways of seeing and being. In the meantime, may Peace, Love, Chocolate, Friends and all the many Virtues guide you and sustain you in the coming days.
    With love and (as always) admiration,
    Lilly

  2. I wish there was a response that would heal these wounds.

    Your words describing how you feel physically fit my own. I lose sleep. I have difficulty focusing. My chest is heavy and tight. My heart breaks several times a day. I can feel it moving in my throat most of the time.

    But I will not leave – I left the Church for almost ten years. I came back. It is my home and I belong here. I came back to be with hypocrites, thieves, adulterers, and pedophiles and sit next to saints, seekers of justice, and those whose hearts long for love. I will not leave again. I will not let my voice be silenced. I will not let the gospel that was taught to me be lost in the arrogance, ignorance and sinfulness of other messengers – no matter how high or low the place they hold might be. I will be a voice of compassion and justice. I will seek to respond with care for the least. I will not let someone else turn out the light in the Church I call home.

    I think I understand why you want to leave. I neither hold it against you nor want to see the light in you die. I just want you to know that there are people whose hearts are breaking with yours. There are people, like you, who are carrying hope for something more. I do not say this so you will not go, but so that you know, for however long you stay away, if you ever need to come back, there will be a light in the Church.

    May you always be conscious that the love of God, eternal being and source of creation, the Word, divine compassion in human flesh, and the Spirit, that which binds all life making it one, is present with you wherever you go.

    Peace.

  3. Hi Kate, I read your reflection each person has their own journey and this is mine: I find it hard to stay brought up a Roman Catholic (in Britain we have to distinguish between that and Anglo Catholics) It hurts so much to stay sometimes and feels like betrayal whenever I go to the church where I feel most at home in. Its not an easy time as whatever I do it will be public even more so if I get the job I want which would see me fixed into a denomination for the duration of the post at least.

    So for now I’m not making decisions, I know well that each church has its problems and whether I like it or not I speak the language of my tradition and it speaks to me, even though the direction we are being taken in does not sit easy with me. I wish I could take it all with me the sense of sacramentality and liturgy, move my house and call it home…I am on the move from my area in a few months time and I wonder will I find a church as special when I leave…And with Thomas Aquinas I find myself saying: “compared to what I have seen it is all straw”.

    Thanks for your reflection church isn’t a comfortable place to be and it needs to be said, otherwise membership simply equals assent.

    I will pray with you that you will feel at home wherever you have chosen.

  4. I did it. I left. It is nine o’clock on Sunday morning, and I am not at Mass. For over twenty years every Sunday morning I made my way to a small chapel about fifteen minutes from my house. It is not a large congregation – only about 750 members – and we know each other by name. I always sat toward the back on the left amongst the people I have fondly over the years called my community. My youngest son, on the ride home from church one Sunday, announced that church was a lot like Cheers because at church “everyone knows my name”.

    My friends at church, my community, have been there for me in the darkest of times and the brightest of times. I have also tried to be there for them, but my efforts pale in the face of what some of them have done for me over the years. They are an inspiring group of people. I often sat in the back looking at their backs pondering their faith and how it has brought them through all they have witnessed in their lifetimes. This gave me strength on those Sundays I sat there wondering how I was ever going to make it to next Sunday.

    Raised in a Catholic home and educated in Catholic schools, I am familiar with both the examination of conscience and the calling to a vocation. We were to be aware when God called upon you….to do whatever He asked. This was always a mystery to me: how was I to know God’s voice? But the Catholic faith is riddled with mysteries, and sometimes these mysteries rise up and slap me in the face, and it is at that moment that I have fallen to my knees in belief.

    Lately, I have logged on every morning and read about the Catholic leadership’s tolerance of convicted pedaphiles wearing the roman collar and their sexual abuse of children. I have read of the legalistic quibbling by the Catholic leadership – the same sort of quibbling, noted The Economist, “which greatly angered an itinerant preacher in Palestine two millennia ago.” I have read of the victims’ lives tormented by alcohol abuse, drug abuse, years of therapy, years of serious depression. I have read about little deaf boys locked in closets in Wisconsin with priests who told them they were asked by God to teach the little boy about sex, and here we go now…….. Little Deaf Boys.

    It was when I read that account that I started to hear this voice, at first just a mumbling, in the corners of my mind. In time, I realized I could not be deaf to this voice as it was very persistent. As I read more, the voice became clearer, more pronounced. I started to open my heart to this voice and found I was being asked to go somewhere that, at first, I was very afraid to go. I was told not to be afraid. It would not be a life without faith; in fact, it would be a life with a faith that will envelope my heart.

    But to get there, I must leave the Catholic Church. I must leave my chapel. For when I am in the presence of priests, I do not have – and I have tried very hard- but I cannot have – a spiritual experience because I am so angry. When the priest walked down the center aisle at our chapel last Sunday, Easter Sunday, I wanted to call out to him to turn around and go back to his rectory. I visualized chasing him out of the church, out of the parking lot, running after him down the road, just like that itinerant preacher who chased them all out of the temple. They are an abomination.

    To be honest, I am still frightened where this journey will take me, but I must. I must break away from the Catholic Church and trust in this voice- this voice that has steadfastly assured me that just in this act itself, the first Sunday I do not go to Mass, I will come to understand that my faith in Him has never been stronger.

  5. […] their conclusions, to the new questions, to follow that love wherever it leads us. Even if it means leaving. Even if it means going where we do not want to go, with tear-stained cheeks, with chests racked […]

  6. […] of My Catholicism Jump to Comments My heart sank last week as I read Kate’s blog entry, “Done.”  In her testimony about trying to leave Catholicism, she wrote, “I’m feeling these days […]

  7. No use crying over split milk. Don’t look back, move on, and do good.

  8. You’ve given precise voice to my exact experience. I could go on, trying to words around the specificity of my own experience (or, could I? Would I have the emotional energy? Would I just start sobbing at the keyboard?), but all I really want to say is — I hear you, and I hear me in you.

  9. Kate,

    I understand all of your feelings for I have felt all of the revulsion and sense of betrayal that you are feeling. But, just remember in whom you place your faith. In Him who loved us and drew us first. This scandal just serves to remind us that all of us- those on the altar right down to those who sit on the front steps, are all in need of His Merciful love and redemption. That’s why we are all here.
    The Lord knew all of this even as he dipped the bread in the dish. Even those who were closest to Him were capable of betrayal. He still died that horrible death so that one day we would be free. Can we abandon each other when we are all capable of sin? “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.” We are all one in this. We all need to stay and pray for healing.
    We need to pray for each other – for where else can we go?
    God bless you!

  10. Kate, Thank you for your precise descriptions of what it feels like to contemplate leaving your church. I have had similar feelings over the years, but I always stay. It is my church and my home. I had a mentor say to me, “If you want to work for change in the church, you can’t do it if you leave.” I also focus on regardless of what role any person plays, in the eyes of God we are all God’s children. It doesn’t make all the abuse right, it just makes it part of our church, just like all the justice work, the goodness, the love, the charity, and so on. It’s my church and my home and I just can’t bring myself to leave. There would be such a whole in my life if I did. I also know so many priests who feel your physical pain as well. So many of our priests are doing amazingly good things. It’s sad when a priest won’t wear his collar on the subway in fear of how people will look at him. I hope whatever decision you make, you can find peace in your heart.

  11. Kate, a friend emailed your post to me. Your description of how it feels to leave your church is very familiar to me. However I dragged out my leaving over several years. I kept one foot in and one foot out for several months longer. I might still be there because I am so Catholic and love the tradition, but I found another way to be Catholic and this made all the difference. I was able to take both feet out of the Roman Catholic Church and run happily into the Ecumenical Catholic Church. I am so grateful. I didn’t so much leave the Roman Catholic Church as I found a better way to be Catholic. Now I am no longer heavy of heart, but rejoice. May God guide you to a faith community, and happiness. There is always a resurrection after a death!

  12. Kate, the door is always open should you decide to return. We have all have depended way too much on the leadership, even if that what was taught to us. The clergy does not, and can never, exhaust the meaning of Church. Even though it is popularly thought that “the Church teaches”, it is the Magisterium of the Church that teaches. They are not the sole members of the Church.

    There might be those in your faith group that will miss you to the point of leaving themselves…you are much more important to your community than you may realize.

    Godspeed, Kate.

  13. Kate,

    It saddened me so much to read what you wrote because I sense that you have been cheated out of the Beauty and Joy of following Christ by whoever taught you the Faith. The more I meet other Catholics, the more I am amazed and grateful to the Franciscan priest who taught me the Faith. Moreover, Christ has called me to follow him in an ecclesial lay movement in the Church (Communion and Liberation) that has built upon and enhanced the foundation that Christ gave me through the priest who taught me.

    And so, based on my experience and what I have been taught and studied on my own, at heart, Catholic Christianity isn’t things to do, or laws to honor, but a Presence to be amazed by, a Presence to think about, a Presence you can talk to, a Presence to beg: a Presence. So, it’s a You that dominates, not things!

    Think back to the experience that the Apostles had: the apostles were struck and attracted by a You that was present, by a You that ate and drank with them, by a You whose hair did things because there was wind, by a You that they put on the cross. It’s this You which is the meaning of history and the reason for the Church.

    So why do I stay in the Church? Because that You comes to me through the flesh of those people – some that I don’t even like!

    I pray that you and all my brothers in sisters in Christ will experience the joy and freedom that I have experienced since my conversion to the Catholic Christian Faith.

    Pax,

    Henry

  14. If someone leaves the Catholic Church, has that person necessarily also left Jesus? No.

    A person who leaves the Catholic Church because of deep sorrow over some things done by church leaders is a person who is heartbroken, disillusioned and exhausted.

    Yes, the Catholic Church contains wonderful goodness.

    But, to the degree that the Church hierarchy has encouraged people to trust completely the hierarchy’s moral competence and authority and has seen fit to symbolize and support that authority through dazzling displays of pomp and pagentry, to that same degree must the hierarchy then accept responsibility for the scandalization, disillusionment, sorrow, heartbreak, and, yes, loss of faith among the faithful when the hierarchy makes grave errors, particularly of the nature and scale of the errors that seem to have been made by bishops, cardinals and Popes in attempting to cover up the abuse of children and in failing to own up to their grave errors in timely and forthright ways.

    The mentality of the modern corporation is more than unbecoming in a church; it is also the eager handmaiden of sin, scandal and disillusionment.

    Those who feel they can take it no more would seem to be
    trying to deal, as best they can, with terrible heartbreak and disillusionment. Perhaps some will come back, in time.

    But they need time and space to draw back and try to breathe deep and understand.

    What have our parishes done to address the horror people feel over these scandals? Have our parishes had prayer services and Masses specifically to offer prayers for all the abuse victims and for the victims’ families?

    What about prayers for all the perpetrators of abuse and for all those in the hierarchy who made bad decisions? What about prayers for the whole Church as it ponders and sorrows over these matters?

    Have our parishes mentioned such prayer intentions in the
    Prayers of the Faithful? Have they had prayer services and Masses dedicated to these intentions?

    Have our parishes provided opportunities for people to come together and express their sorrows and frustrations over these matters, to ask questions, to discuss, to comfort each other?

    Are pastors dealing with these matters during homilies?

    Or are most parishes mainly keeping mum about these things, leaving people to ache over them in silence?

    The Church still has a long, long way to go to respond properly to all that has happened regarding the abuse crisis. It is a grave crisis indeed and the hierarchy hasn’t been at all williing to understand its depth and seriousness.

    Yes, I’ve felt the very same heaviness of heart, the breathlessness, had sleepless nights, and then reached what most Catholics would consider a radical decision, which is to settle in gently to the faith of Jesus, Mary and Joseph: to become Jewish. Give me that old-time
    religion; the Prophets cried out the good news.

    The decision comes not only from the abuse crisis, though, but also from a growing awareness of the ways in which Christianity separated itself from Judaism and then
    reflected back on its Jewish roots with an unjust enmity that has never been justified or completely vanquished and which has led to much tragedy.

    Love God; love one’s neighbor; try to do good in the world.
    That’s what Jesus said. He said it because he was Jewish.

    I hope that all who remain Catholic will find the strength to
    persevere and struggle until the Church is truly set on a better, more honest path.

  15. I thank all of you so much for your responses. To know that I am not alone in this struggle means more than I can express, and to know that there are those who mourn my leaving and pray for my return gives me a strange feeling of comfort – it reaffirms that it is not the people of God I am leaving, but the institutional Church through which I can no longer find any connection to my faith.

    I’ve done a lot of reflecting on my piece since I wrote it, and I want to add some thoughts, the first and most important of which is to clarify that I have not abandoned my faith – in fact, much to my own surprise, I have felt my faith strengthened since I “left.” I had grown so weary of the Church that I had lost my way entirely. I was questioning everything. And now, I suddenly feel like I can see again. I’ve had my sight restored. It’s strange and beautiful and just plain bizarre that I’ve had to walk away from the place that I learned about the radical love of Jesus in order to again experience the radical love of Jesus, but there you have it.

    So to echo what others have said, I haven’t left my faith behind. I haven’t left Jesus behind. I haven’t even left my people behind. Instead, it is my faith that has allowed me to walk away from the Church in order to find Him again. Will I miss it at times? Of course. But what good is a Mass, even the celebration of the Eucharist, when you struggle and struggle and struggle and can’t find God there?

    Thank you all for sharing in my journey, and for sharing your thoughts, your tears, and your prayers. THAT is Church, my sisters and brothers. THAT is Church.

  16. Kate,

    I am thinking of a quote from the Purgatorio by Dante – “Everyone apprehends confusedly a good in which the heart may rest and desires it; and all labor to attain that good.” – as I read your comment. I wish you well on your journey and I will pray that you follow your path with courage, honesty, and passion. I know from my own life that a person’s path is a great mystery and the only advice I can offer you is what someone offered me long ago: “always ask yourself, is this enough?”

    I will accompany you in prayer and I thank you for your kind words.

    Pax,

    Henry

    P.S. Nice job with the sexuality discussion – brava.

  17. I left the church in 1969. I decided then there really was no value in trying to separating the truth from the lies. My aspiration of becoming a priest would never be realized.

    I raged for twelve years but it does not have to be that way. God does not own the church and the church does not own God. The comfort of community and sense of belonging is a real loss. There is value in that community and you can stand with God there or anywhere. The only authority the church has is over the institution itself. The church provides no diplomacy between yourself and God.

    Take your confidence in God and do what is best for you inside or outside of the church. Only you can see your path and follow its direction.

  18. Thank you for your article, though you didn’t write it for me. I will remain in the Church, despite everything. But though I don’t know you I love you, and want you to know I want all good things for you. And you have my prayers.

  19. You said, “But what good is a Mass, even the celebration of the Eucharist, when you struggle and struggle and struggle and can’t find God there?”

    Yes–I totally agree…yet I stay–thus far. I struggle with you, share your tears, frustrations, questions.

    Where did you ‘go’ though? And are you happy there?

  20. Whenever I feel overwhelmed of defending why I am a Catholic (and I’m dating an atheist who’s family is non denominational Christian who HATES all Catholics, so this happens often) I go to the saints before us for strength. Thomas Merton, Saint Teresa of Avila, and some of our contemporary thinkers, like James Marton, SJ really help me.

    Don’t feel guilty for leaving. Guilt just gets in the way of love. Read and find comfort with those who have your same thoughts.

    I suggest My Life with the Saints by James Martin, SJ. It has helped me immensely get through my own trying times of leaving/staying with the church.

  21. Hi Kate – this made me go back & re-read the “break-up” letter I wrote to Cardinal George almost 10 years ago – where I explained why I could not remain in the Church. It IS so much like a bad break-up & it hurts to leave a relationship even when you know it’s toxic for you. 10 years later & I am a member of a UCC church and still stay connected to the best parts of the Catholic Church through my work at Call To Action.

  22. I too have been in a current storm with my involvement in the Catholic Church, mostly due to the continuing abuse scandal. I have been greatly dissatisfied and ashamed of the churches response… until I read this letter (below) from the Bishops of England and Wales to their congregations. Finally, FINALLY a response that is “direct and without ambiguity” (amen!) and calls their community to action. I shared this with my family and friends, and will be joining the Bishops of England and Wales in prayer the next 4 fridays of May. Regardless of where my faith takes me, prayer will certainly be guiding it.

    Here is their letter:
    Child abuse in the Catholic Church has been such a focus of public attention recently, that we, the Bishops of England and Wales, wish to address this issue directly and unambiguously.

    Catholics are members of a single universal body. These terrible crimes, and the inadequate response by some church leaders, grieve us all.

    Our first thoughts are for all who have suffered from the horror of these crimes, which inflict such severe and lasting wounds. They are uppermost in our prayer. The distress we feel at what has happened is nothing in comparison with the suffering of those who have been abused.

    The criminal offences committed by some priests and religious are a profound scandal. They bring deep shame to the whole church. But shame is not enough. The abuse of children is a grievous sin against God. Therefore we focus not on shame but on our sorrow for these sins. They are the personal sins of only a very few. But we are bound together in the Body of Christ and, therefore, their sins touch us all.

    We express our heartfelt apology and deep sorrow to those who have suffered abuse, those who have felt ignored, disbelieved or betrayed. We ask their pardon, and the pardon of God for these terrible deeds done in our midst. There can be no excuses.

    Furthermore, we recognise the failings of some Bishops and Religious leaders in handling these matters. These, too, are aspects of this tragedy which we deeply regret and for which we apologise. The procedures now in place in our countries highlight what should have been done straightaway in the past. Full co-operation with statutory bodies is essential.

    Now, we believe, is a time for deep prayer of reparation and atonement. We invite Catholics in England and Wales to make the four Fridays in May 2010 special days of prayer. Even when we are lost for words, we can place ourselves in silent prayer. We invite Catholics on these days to come before the Blessed Sacrament in our parishes to pray to God for healing, forgiveness and a renewed dedication. We pray for all who have suffered abuse; for those who mishandled these matters and added to the suffering of those affected. From this prayer we do not exclude those who have committed these sins of abuse. They have a journey of repentance and atonement to make.

    We pray also for Pope Benedict, whose wise and courageous leadership is so important for the Church at this time.

    In our dioceses we will continue to make every effort, working with our safeguarding commissions, to identify any further steps we can take, especially concerning the care of those who have suffered abuse, including anyone yet to come forward with their account of their painful and wounded past. We are committed to continuing the work of safeguarding, and are determined to maintain openness and transparency, in close co-operation with the statutory authorities in our countries. We thank the thousands who give generously of their time and effort to the Church’s safeguarding work in our parishes and dioceses.

    We commit ourselves afresh to the service of children, young people and the vulnerable in our communities. We have faith and hope in the future. The Catholic Church abounds in people, both laity, religious and clergy, of great dedication, energy and generosity who serve in parishes, schools, youth ventures and the care of elderly people. We also thank them. The Holy Spirit guides us to sorrow and repentance, to a firm determination to better ways, and to a renewal of love and generosity towards all in need.

  23. In an unfortunately surprising reconcilliation experience my senior year of college (12 years ago) i spoke with Georgetown’s University chaplain about my struggle to stay in the church. I had grown up struggling with the official role of the laity, especially women, and at that time, was having special pain about the Church’s response to my gay friends. This priest told me something I have never forgotten. He said, “It is a sin to stay where you are not nurtured. If the Catholic Church community nurtures your spirit, stay. If not, you MUST find a community that does.”

    I have stayed “catholic” over the years – with varying degrees of involvement in institutional church or traditional parishes. At this point, my partner and i have joined a parish, I am in a small faith-sharing group, and I am active in Call To Action leadership. I continue to work to find and build church home in inclusive community, and effect justice in the world rooted in Catholic social teaching.

    I wish you peace in your journey. Find where you are nurtured.

  24. […] so divided for such sound reasons. Maybe it’s because people I care about are struggling with leaving. Maybe it’s because I relate to them more than I want to admit. Maybe it’s because I am […]

  25. […] it’s been over two months since my most recent breakup – with the Catholic Church – and I’ve finally found my breakup song. At the beginning of June […]

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