Catholic Moments

St. Joseph Catholic Church, the birthplace of my faith, and my marriage.

I would like to digress from my reflections on homeschooling and finding my path forward by doing some public soul searching about my Catholic faith.

I have mentioned before that I am a cradle Catholic. I grew up in the Midwest and the foundation of my faith was formed in my hometown parish in northern Indiana. The church has always been an important part of my life. My Uncle Jim is a priest and his presence in my life has left an indelible print. I owe a great debt of gratitude to him and my parents for being my first teachers.

St. Joseph’s Church holds a very special place in my heart. It was within those walls that I first came to know Jesus. I attended Catholic Grade School. All of my first experiences of church were at St. Joe’s. My roots are there.

My husband and I were married in the church and it was upon this foundation that we began our life together. It has been an unfailing source of strength for us as we navigated both good times and more difficult ones over the years. Our kids were raised in military parishes all over the country and in Asia. The Catholic Communities on every base offered a wonderful sense of stability and support for those of us whose families did not live nearby. The military chaplains gave us the encouragement we needed to sustain ourselves during long absences from our extended families or deployments of our loved ones.

We were so busy getting through the stresses inherent in that nomadic lifestyle that our faith became a strength that we took on internally. For me it was not so much a staff that I could lean on, but a part of the fabric and bones of who I am. It is the reason I am able to get up in the morning and accomplish my tasks each day.

All things by the Grace of God.

When my husband retired from military service we sought a permanent church home. We visited all four Catholic parishes in our town of 50,000 people. It was an unusual experience for us, living on bases had prompted us to attend those local churches. Now we had a choice.

Each church had its own culture and nuances. For us it was not a difficult decision. We ended up making our neighborhood church, St. Pius X, our parish home.

It was in the process of deciding where to attend that I first felt the underlying tensions between the churches here. There was a decidedly competitive feeling present between St. Pius and the parish not more than a mile down the street, Sacred Heart. At first I thought it was a friendly sort of one-upmanship like the rivalry of our neighborhood pools. It was odd, (I thought) for parishioners of Catholic churches to speak so forcefully about the superiority of their chosen place of worship. After all, we were all Catholics, right?

Did I have a lot to learn!

For the last thirteen years I have been wrestling with the opposing forces within the Catholic Church. Sometimes it feels like I am actually doing battle with people who profess the same faith I do each Sunday. These are the issues I would like to grapple with in my Catholic Moments posts. I am seeking unity and dialogue and mostly, and always, God’s merciful Grace.

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