This week, our former Catholic series takes a turn. We interview a former Catholic who eventually came back.
Kevin, 40, from Barrington, New Jersey
How old were you when you decided Catholicism was not for you? What was your primary reason for deciding to no longer identify as Catholic? Was there an aspect of your Catholic upbringing that gave cause for you not to identify as Catholic? Explain.
I would say 18 to about 20. It’s a long story but actually after speaking to a priest about being a priest during vocations week my frosh year in college, I would say I walked away. Not because I was upset, I just felt I didn’t need it in my life. The Catholic Church was not speaking to ME. It was a bunch of old rituals that my parents went to do.
[I’m] not sure I stopped identifying as Catholic. Once you’re in… It’s like you’re always in….but I was definitely absent….unless it was Christmas, a wedding or a funeral.
Thankfully nothing ever happened to me, but I came from a parish that had priest child [sexual] abuse allegations. VERY little press on the events so as an adult it’s hard to go back and really dig in to what went on, but he was the cool, charismatic, even go as far as to say he was handsome, priest that had everyone’s faith in his hands….and well ….when things like this happen everyone has opinions. Some don’t believe it, some are enraged, and some like me… Especially since I was a kid…. Just physically mentally and spiritually walked away with an impression that not everyone is safe here. And that this may not be the place to keep my soul… If I have a soul…on the right path.
How do you currently view the relationship between God (of your understanding) and spirituality?
I believe that Jesus is the light and the way…. But I have never been convinced that a sincere, and contrite hearted Muslim, Jew, Sikh, Oglala Sioux, Mormon, Buddhist, Taoist, reverent agnostic, will not be on the right or perhaps better path. I feel as though we are saying the same thing, but in different languages….the details are just man made quibbles! Just because it came out of the Council of Nicea, doesn’t make it 100% correct.
When Mass was a part of your life, what did you like/dislike?
This is going to sound terrible but the “community” of the Church. Let me explain. I am now convinced that if you count on 1 hour of Sunday Mass to be your “spiritual heavy lifting”…. Then you will feel spiritually sick. Its not enough. You must work on it constantly. And now being one that is trying to be “back” spiritually, I usually fail, but I believe I have an idea that the work is infinite.
So when I say community bugged me, it was because I thought that was where I needed to go to be In the quiet “inner chamber” of my house, but it wasn’t no close to being enough. There is prayer, there is study, there is service. Today when I look more at Mass as “God’s picnic” for us, I see it in a much better place. It’s important to reflect on the life of Christ to see that he had his own quiet time, and his communal time… None better or worse, both supremely important.
What are your current feelings on Pope Francis and the papacy?
Pope Francis is the light of Christ. He is Buddha. I love and listen to him sincerely and openly. He’s also rebellious, like Christ, and I admire that.
What caused you to consider ‘returning’?
Hitting rock bottom in life, brought me back to spirituality….(sometimes we only look for God when we suck!). I found the Bible that I had from a Catholicism course I took in college and began to read…. It changed me. My personal belief….and this is a generalization, that Catholic “problems” come from not having a solid grounding in the Bible. We gloss over it…. And we shouldn’t. I went back to Catholicism, because it was the language I spoke. But I was happy to find all the things that I believe in about other religions, are somewhere in our church….. (Careful, this is a figurative stretch) Buddhism, we have the rosary, Judaism… We got more angels that we can name… Hindu ism…. Well it’s a real stretch but Revelation has some pretty Shiva like images…. The lives of the Saints……etc etc. Like I said, my biggest problem is I probably believe in all religions’ stories having some truth to them… I am a true, perhaps over-believer…. I believe in everything, hence being a Catholic apologist probably ain’t gonna happen!
Thank you, Kevin!
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