My husband and I are devout Catholics. We waited till marriage. I was going to daily Mass (unable to now), and we both were going to confession bi-weekly. We pray the liturgy of the hours together and we both had spent a period of our life considering joining a religious order.
The problem was this. I was a registered member of a parish I was feeling spiritually starved in but my family felt I was being overly critical of the parish and discouraged me from changing parishes. I thus went to daily Mass and confession at the hospital chapel, frequently traveled to other parishes searching for a reverant liturgy for Holidays (especially easter) and went to the parish I was a member of all the rest of the Sundays for the sake of my family. I also volunteered teaching CCD and had volunteered in the Youth group as my way to be active in the parish.
The summer before I became engaged, my parish priest had a stroke. He just recently passed away, so please pray for his soul. He was in his 80’s and primarily the problems in the parish revolved around the fact that he was long past retirement and the diocese should have retired him long before he had his stroke and often would become confused by adult baptisms or older children receiving their first Holy Communion. We had no RCIA program, so when an adult was looking to join the faith, the adult was stuck in the 2nd grade CCD classroom to prepare for his first Holy Communion. It was just crazy stuff like that.
Neither my husband and I wanted to marry at my parish and my parents didn’t want us marrying in my husband’s town. However, our parish was being assigned only temporary priests. We had no idea if the diocese was planning on closing the parish or combining it with another. So I went searching for other parishes in the area to get married in and got the whole “If you’re a member there, why are you seeking to get married here?” Priests would talk about how they did not have pastorial authority over me. I found that my gesture of trying to marry in another parish was like the equivlent in the Church as calling my friend’s Dad and asking him to walk me down the aisle in place of my Dad. At first I was offended, but eventually I sort of began understanding it, and resigned myself to marry in the parish I was only still a member in because my parents had discouraged me from switching parishes.
I ended up fed up with my parents a bit for not being willing to consider my husband’s parish as we wouldn’t have had problems there. Then I became fed up with my parish as the temporary priest there wasn’t allowing us to set a date. I ended up calling the Dean of the Deanery to try to get help with the temporary priest. The Dean called him and then called me, but at that point the entire thing had been so stressful that my husband and I decided to delay our wedding so that we could focus on planning it after I was done teaching CCD for the year and after my husband graduated college. Then the Dean of the Deanery was like “Oh then don’t bother to set your date yet.”
The good news was that eventually my parish got assigned a terrific priest. I was so surprised the diocese didn’t close the parish and by that time, I was actually sad to leave the parish in order to move to my husband’s city. The priest whose taken over the parish is doing amazing things over there!
I think had it not been for the problems of my parish, I wouldn’t have had anywhere near the experience that those who are less active in their parishes or in their faith have. I was truly shocked by how rude one secretary was with me and the assumptions she made about my motivations to seek out another parish. There was a deep anger and self righteousness that came out that I could see that would push people away from the faith that they might be considering.
That said, I still love being Catholic and am faithful.