Why do we stay Catholic?
We Catholics get asked that a lot. Many of us ask ourselves that question.
I was born Catholic, raised Catholic and educated Catholic. A priest picked out my name, Regina Maria. Only he’s not a priest any more. He left and got married.
For me, being Catholic isn’t just a religion, it’s like being Irish. It’s part of who I am.
Yet I hate what this Church has done, from the pedophile priests and the bishops who protected them, to the way they treat women and gay people like second-class citizens.
I tried to leave it, but the church won’t leave me. I stay because of Sister Mary Ann Flannery at the Jesuit Retreat House in Parma who maintains that holy place of peace.
That’s where I met Father Joe Zubricky 30 years ago. He changed my life. I dumped in his lap all my Catholic baggage, my questions about purgatory and limbo and papal infallibility. Joe just smiled and said, “Only one thing matters.” At the end of our lives, God will ask just one thing… Did you love?
We Catholics stay because we have faith. Yes, it has shrunk to the size of a mustard seed, but we know that is enough. I pray for the Church, pray that it falls like a house of holy cards so it can be rebuilt. Maybe the new pope will do that. He’s off to a good start.
Those who cling to doctrines and dogma call me a bad Catholic. They tell me to love the church or leave it. I’m tempted to leave, but I haven’t. Like so many of the faithful around me, I defiantly love this church even as I hate what the people in power have done to hurt the people in the pews.
Why stay in a church that seems heartless? Because this church still has a heartbeat. You can hear it pounding in the pews, louder than ever, in the faithful who cling to those words: “We wait in joyful hope for the coming of the Lord.”