Wednesday, June 1, 2011

So you work for the Catholic Church, huh?

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

I've noticed something interesting. Something that happens when I tell people what kind of work I do. Namely, what happens when I tell people that I work for the Catholic Church.

Sure, there are many varied responses, but the one that seems the most common, slightly comedic, and puzzling goes something like this:

Leslie: Oh, it's great to see you after so long!
Old friend/acquaintance who I have never known to be Catholic (a.k.a. OFAWIHNKTBC): Thanks, Leslie. You, too! What are you up to these days? Where do you work?
Leslie: Well, I work at my home parish coordinating the youth confirmation program, and I teach classes for adults in my diocese.
OFAWIHNKTBC: Oh, you work for the Catholic Church! That's so great that you work for our Church. I, for one, am happy to know that people like you are bringing about the needed changes in all of the following areas in need of reform...

Or this:

Leslie: Hi, I'm Leslie. Good to meet you, second-cousin of my friend's sister!
Second-cousin of my friend's sister (a.k.a. SCOMFS): Hi, Leslie. Where are you from?
Leslie: Oh, a place that's dry and hot and exciting. And you?
SCOMFS: Oh, a place that's temperate and tropical and lovely. What kind of work do you do, Leslie?
Leslie: Well, I mostly am involved in catechesis and a little bit of music.
SCOMFS: Music. Cool. Uh...Cate-WHAT?
Leslie: Oh, I coordinate and teach classes for youth and adults in the Catholic Church.
SCOMFS: Oh, that's really great! Because I have noticed that the Vatican does not take us women very seriously in the Church, and some changes definitely need to happen. Blah, blah, blah...
Leslie: Oh, that's great that you share the faith! Blah, blah, blah....
[Later, now talking to my friend....]
Leslie: Hey, that was cool talking with your second cousin's sister. I didn't know she was Catholic!
Friend: That's because she's not Catholic. Well, not for a while, anyway. She stopped going to church after she was, oh, about 6 months old. You know, after she was baptized.

Why do people who have not been Catholic for many years suddenly identify as Catholics when I tell them that I work for the Church? And then commend me for working for the Church? And then pour out their litany of complaints about what needs to change about the Church which they never attend? Maybe they feel badly telling me that they actually hate the Catholic Church, and secretly think that I am a backward and pathetic woman for being brought down by such a discriminatory and hierarchical institution? Or maybe they just want to complain, and feel that they have more right to do so as a Catholic? Or maybe they do still feel Catholic in their hearts in some way, but feel guilty for having been away so long and don't know if they can come back.

I don't know, but I do know this: if you want to see positive change in the Catholic Church, consider going to the Catholic Church. True renewal begins in ourselves, and to the extent that we are converted and transformed by love, we will draw with us all those we hold in our hearts. And we will transform the Church! And yes, you can always come back!

Peace and all good,


  1. They should come back. And, the renewal might not be the one they are expecting. It might be a renewal of themselves.

  2. I think it might be hard to identify with something when you disagree with a lot of the "policies" (for lack of a better word), but because its a part of how we were raised it's still a part of us. Even though I don't consider myself Catholic these days, I can't deny it was an extensive part of my life.

    Sometimes I think it'd be nice to go back, but as it stands today I can't. That and I'm fighting enough one man battles over here on the other side of the world. :) Regardless, if anyone's working for the Church, I'm glad it's you!

  3. Very true, Denise.

    And BRY GUY! So good to hear from you! Indeed, you are engaged in many a battle around the globe, and we miss you! Next time you visit (come soon!), I'd love to have a real coffee talk with you about this very subject! Your situation is one very near and dear to me. For now, just know that you CAN come back! Everyone can. That's why it's the Catholic, or universal, Church! It is for all people. We don't always do a good job of communicating that! In the meantime, thanks for your kind words, and know that your comment will be tucked away in my heart so that I may think, I may pray, and finally, I may blog! :) Peace be with you!