The long road home: Part One

The return of the prodigal daughter

I was raised in a happy Catholic home. My family was involved in the church. My two sisters and I were altar servers and members of the choir. We looked forward to Sunday mornings and fellowship with our fellow Catholics.

My father was raised Protestant, like his father. His mother, however, was Catholic. She didn’t live to see his conversion, but when I was in the fifth grade my father finally joined the faith and had his First Holy Communion and Confirmation. Oh how we celebrated!

The road had been long for him. He struggled with depression, but through so many miracles that God had performed for my family he came to believe. He even had his own personal miracle. My dad had been very prone to skin cancer, and four times he has been cured.

I was happy. I was sure in my faith.

Then we moved from our predominately Catholic community to the predominately Protestant South.

We became the objects of curiosity. Some of the curiosity was friendly, most of the time it was cruel. Our first Lent in the South my sister decided to wear her scapular daily. We all had them, but they’re really not the most comfortable or subtle things to wear! Our miraculous medal pendants got us quite enough attention!

I will never forget how our history teacher called her out in front of the class. He mocked her with disingenuous questions about her faith. Shy, she flushed bright red, and could do nothing but stare at him.

Our English teacher was no better. In fact, he may have been worse. In fact, somehow Catholicism came up a great deal in our class debates, and always it was with condescension. I grew tired of the daily mockery, but I didn’t give up. Yet.

When I was sixteen I became the choir director for my church. That same year I made my confirmation in the faith. I taught Sunday school and was much involved in the church politics.

I still couldn’t find any camaraderie among the people of that church, save one, my pianist Oscar. Soon the church’s arguments over money, and corruption corrupted my spirit. It was alleged that the church secretary was embezzling money-and perhaps the priest as well.

I don’t know how it turned out. I had given up, and no longer went to church. I resigned as choir director when I was seventeen. When I resigned I renounced my faith. I shoved all of my rosaries and religious items into a drawer and vowed to never open it again. When I would see Facebook posts about loving God, I sneered in derision.

I couldn’t feel God’s presence in my life anymore. He had abandoned me to the merciless South. He had come with me through every move my military family made, but somehow, I felt that we had left him behind. I was heartsick. I was angry and I entered a deep period of depression.

 

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