Melanie sat in the pew, listening to the Sunday homily. She became more and more infuriated. The priest was talking about abortion methods and their devastating effects on child and mother.
He has no right to tell me what to do with my own body! She fumed to herself.
She got up, stepped out of the pew, and headed down the aisle toward the door. Once on the outside, she never went back.
Melanie (not her real name) represents the growing number of Catholics who are leaving the Church. They leave for various reasons. Some are looking for something more. Some have had a negative experience with a priest or parish worker. Some think they’ve committed an unforgivable sin. Some disagree with Church authority and teaching. Some leave for reasons they can’t quite pinpoint. They all leave because they somehow fail to see the fullness of Truth and the reality of what the Church has to offer.
Studies conducted by the Pew Forum show that one-in-ten American adults have left the Catholic Church after having been raised Catholic. Where are they all going? Those leaving seem evenly divided between those joining a Protestant faith tradition and those not adhering to any faith. Of those joining Protestant churches, most end up in evangelical denominations, with fewer joining mainline Protestant denominations. While the Church is consistently welcoming new members, those leaving outnumber those who have joined by a four-to-one margin!
Have you ever been in Melanie’s place? Have you ever lapsed in your Catholic faith? Let things slide for a while? Stopped practicing altogether? Was there a time in your life when you asked yourself, “When’s God gonna call me back?”
Then let others learn from your experience — others who are hurting, who have lost their zeal for the Catholic faith, who remain sporadically involved in the Church, who need to understand why they’ve left, what’s kept them away, and how they can come back.
Whether you’ve found your way home or are still searching, I want to listen to your story, learn from it, and use what I’ve learned in my newest book, When’s God Gonna Call Me Back?, scheduled for release in Spring 2010 by Liguori Publications. Written in the same warm conversational tone as When’s God Gonna Show Up? and using entertaining and thought-provoking stories, Scripture passages and reflection questions, When’s God Gonna Call Me Back? will help episodic Catholics become more fully alive and part of the Church. Tell me your story in person, over the phone, via email or personal letter. Sign your name or submit it anonymously. No names or identifying details will be used in the book, so your story will remain confidential. Guaranteed. Answer the questions below and send it to the contact at the bottom of the page. It’s that simple, and it can do so much good!
Now hurry. There are people out there waiting for the hope and healing only you can offer them. Likely, you’ll experience some healing of your own in the process!
1. Why did you leave the Church? What was the defining moment in which you said, “That’s it. I’m outta here!”?
2. What kept you away and for how long? What substituted for your relationship with the Catholic Church? With God?
3. What brought you back? What was the defining moment in which you said, “I’ve gotta go home!”? or if you haven’t come back, why not?
4. May I contact you if I have further questions?
Send your stories by January 25, 2010 to:Marge Fenelon 3558 E. Cudahy Avenue Cudahy, WI 53110
[Mark the envelopes CALL ME BACK]
Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org (If you want to tell me your story over the phone, contact me through email to arrange a phone interview.)