Finding My Way Home to Catholicism – My Spiritual Journey

This weekend was a major milestone in my life, as I was officially confirmed and received my First Communion in the Catholic Church. This has been a long, complicated journey for me, and I am eternally thankful to the love and support of everyone who has helped me along that path.

 I have felt so lost in this world without either of my parents and did not know where to turn. There is something so empty and lonely about no longer having the people who made me and raised me in this world. I felt untethered and desperately needed grounding and connection that I have not been able to find until I returned to the Catholic Church. My mom loved her Catholic faith, and although my dad was not officially Catholic, he carried a Miraculous Medal in his pocket everyday and sought out the Church as well. 

Although I was baptized Catholic as a baby, I had never completed any other sacraments, and when I was a teenager, I found myself longing for Confirmation and the Eucharist. When I attended Georgetown, I eagerly signed up for RCIA (Rites of Christian Initiation for Adults, a year long course of faith formation, rites, education, and reflection before adults can join the Catholic Church) as soon as I arrived on campus. However, over the course of that first year at college, I had many doubts about Catholicism and I did not complete my RCIA course. Over the years, I have spent lot of time trying to figure out what I believed. I have bounced between atheism, agnosticism, paganism, and just exploring spirituality in general.

Growing up, my mom always said that when you were in a desperate situation and don’t know what to do, you should pray the Hail Mary. She attributed the intercession of Mary to saving her life and helping her survive challenging and scary circumstances that she had experienced at earlier times in her life. When my mom was in the hospital and we didn’t know what to do, Alicia reminded me of my mom’s guidance to pray the Hail Mary at times like these. At this point, I did not know what I believed or if I believed in anything at all, but I knew my mom would want me to pray the Hail Mary and so that is what I did. For the ten days that my mom was in the ICU, Alicia, my dad and I took turns holding my mom’s hand and her most precious Medal, and 

prayed the Hail Mary constantly. I had long since forgotten the words, and had to look them up on my phone a few times, but I uttered those words constantly for those ten days.

My mom woke up when the doctors said that she likely never would again. She was awake and able to talk to us. Then there was another day when she couldn’t wake up, and the doctors came and told us that it was nice that she had woken up to say her goodbyes, but now it was time for us to accept that she would likely never wake up again. Then, she woke up again and we were able to spend her final days with her. I truly believe that my mom waking up at those times and being able to spend those final days with us was a miracle that I am forever grateful for.

After she died, I still didn’t know what I believed in, if anything at all. However, Alicia and I did make plans to start going with my dad to the beautiful little stone church down the street from me, once he felt up for it. Finding a Church community was something that my dad had been interested in, and he loved the beauty of stone churches, but he never did get the chance to feel up for it before we lost him as well. Losing both of my parents sent me into a spiral, and I didn’t know where to turn.

Eventually, I felt a pull to start going to church, but still had plenty of doubts about Catholicism. I started attending the Episcopal church near me over the summer. I had not attended a church since I was 20 and pregnant with Connor, and I had never gone to church without my mom by my side. It was so difficult to walk through those doors, but attending church brought me an immense sense of peace and I found myself looking forward to Sundays all week. I also had a nagging feeling that I wasn’t quite in the right place for me and felt like I needed to return to the Catholic Church. Returning to the Catholic Church was intimidating, both because of the many doubts that I had about the truth of the Church and also because of the many steps I knew that I would have to go through in order to be in full communion with the Catholic Church (completing all those RCIA classes, confessing for 34 years worth of life, and especially convalidating my marriage in the Church and getting Calvin to agree to go through the convalidation process with me). One night, I couldn’t sleep and kept thinking about Catholicism, but I thought that door was closed to me as I was married outside the Church and did not expect Calvin’s support in the process. I impulsively emailed my local church to find out if it would even be possible for me to be a full part of the Catholic Church. The response was warm and welcoming, and to my surprise, Calvin supported me every step of the way despite not being Catholic himself.   

This past Fall, I began RCIA classes for the second time in my life, and have found such wonderful and amazing people and truly rediscovered my faith. After many months of reflection and deep conversations, I am now officially a fully Confirmed Catholic. The Easter Vigil was beautiful beyond belief. I was so sad to not have my parents there, but so grateful to have finally come home to the Church. 

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