Michael J. Sheehan Archbishop of Santa Fe

Why they’re leaving the Church

(part 2 of 4)

(Let’s be aware of these problems
and consider how we Joyful Catholics can help in the solution)

  Recently I learned that my beautiful 24-year-old god-daughter has left the Church to take part in another religion. With open frankness, she told me that she no longer felt ‘at home’ in the Catholic Church. “Each Sunday, I entered the church a stranger,” she said, “and walked out a stranger.” She wanted the feeling of being a loving and loved  member of a spiritual family.

By contrast, in the Presbyterian Church she now attends, she feels like a welcomed and cared-about member of a happy community. Unfortunately, in my many decades of attending Mass, I have  found this Catholic hermit behavior to be true. The usual attitude of a parishioners is to acknowledge only those they know, and after Mass to get to the car as fast as possible with the impression of “Thanks God, that’s done.”
As Russell Moore in Touchstone magazine said, the difference between the Catholics and the Evangelicals isless theological than cultural.

In the first chapter of Light Reading for Good and Wayward Catholics I tell of visiting in Fayetteville, NC, and being delighted with the reception at Mass.
The ushers and church members greeted me like rich relative. When I sat down and picked up the prayer book, I realized I was in an Episcopal church. I  hurried and left to get to the Catholic Church, a block away, to be scolded by the usher for being late and treated like a suspicious stranger by others. I felt at home.

In 1940, Servant of God Madeleine Delbrel, the
French laywoman, writer and mystic, wrote, “The Kingdom
of God is the encounter between God and humanity composed of one person, plus another, plus another. It does not emerge form an anonymous mass.” In his London (UK) parish, Canon Stuart Wilson occasionally cuts his homily to five minutes to allow time for each parishioner to meet a stranger. “Tell them about you,” he instructs, “and find out something about them.” Instantly, the church becomes alive with happy talking and an invisible cloud of communal love encompasses the church. There, if you are in a hurry to leave after Mass, you have to wiggle through many  parishioners who are visiting in the vestibule and out on the sidewalk. I double-dog-dare you priests to have the back-bone to do this. Don’t be chicken.
Give it a try and let me know the results. aljagoe@comcast.net.

Sr. Melannie Svbobodo, S.N.D

As Sr. Melannie Svbobodo, S.N.D., said, “Our church has to be more than a loving community of fellow believers. It must be a loving community whose love extends beyond its own members.” And what can we Joyful Catholics do to help solve this problem of lacking spirit of  community within our Church? As an example, how about committing to meeting a  stranger at each Mass? I have done this with mixed results, mostly positive.  Some sorrowful souls want to be left as hermits. Give me your thoughts.  aljagoe@comcast.net

             Other recommended Catholic blogs

Happy Catholic

The Crescat

Domine,da mihi hanc aquam!


Recommended readings

Check out the pamphlet, Discover the Catholic Church,  published by Liturgy Trainings Publications.  It is an excellent piece, especially for those why might be interested in
knowing about our Faith.

“The buck stops where?” in August U. S. Catholic.

“Liberal education and the priesthood” by Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. in the August-September Homiletic & Pastoral  Review.

                         Roster of Joyful Catholic Priests

The media loves to publicize bad priests, and we should give recognition to our Joyful Catholic Priests. Send me your recommendation for ones you think merit membership in this splendid group. (aljagoe@comcast.net)

Rev. Robert Aufieri (NYC)

Rev. Edward Gorman, O.P. (DE)

Fr. Andrew Gries (DC)

Msgr. Edward Filardi (MD)

Fr. Raymond Kemp (DC)

Bishop Dennis Madden (MD)

Fr. Joseph Marini (CA)

Fr. John Mericantante (FL)

Msgr. Thomas Modugno (NYC)

Fr. Matthew Ruhl, S.J. (KS)

Fr. Michael Scanlon (OH)

Rev. Richard Trout (FL)

Rev. Hayden Vaverek (NYC)

Rev. Malcolm Sylvester Willoughby, O.P. (DC)

Canon Stuart Wilson (London, UK)


2 thoughts on “

  1. I much prefer a reception after Mass in order to great others. There is a huge difference between an Evangelical, Presbyterian, or Episcopalian church and a Catholic one – our churches contain the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Our actions while in church are focused on Him.

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