Friday, January 25, 2013

Priests Who Listen: Why My Parish Is Wonderful

I grew up in the Catholic Church and I never really left. But I know far, far more people who are former Catholics than who are practicing Catholics, people who have left the Church in disgust, disappointment and disenchantment for a wide range of reasons.

Our pastor, Fr. Tom Odorizzo, C.O, who leads a group of Oratorian priests,  is offering an opportunity to anyone who wants to talk with him about their problems and struggles with the Catholic Church. He is calling it an "Open Invitation to Dialogue." How great is this?

Readers of my blog know that my relationship with the Catholic Church is not without questioning. During my teen and young adult years there were months when I did not go to Mass, and I once tried being an Episcopal for a couple of months when I was living in the Boston area right after graduate school. But I felt like an impostor.

I could not stop being Catholic any more than I could stop being someone who grew up in the New York metropolitan area, or who was the youngest of four surviving siblings or who married a young man she met at a Thanksgiving dinner in Statesville, NC. For me, no matter my questions, my struggles and yes, sometimes my anger at the Church, it all goes back to the Eucharist.

And yet,  I have friends and family members who have walked out of the Church to join evangelical sects, to convert to Judaism or to the Muslim faith, to become Episcopalians, Unitarian and Baptists or who have decided to follow no faith at all. I get it. I really do.

The Church of my childhood, with priests I did not connect with, who did not seem human at all to me, is a thing of the past. I can't imagine 40 years ago a pastor sending out an open invitation to talk.

And yet, here we are and here it is.

What do you do if you have struggles, hurts, questions or anger that keep you from wanting to be part of the Catholic faith community? Do you feel that the Church has rejected you and that there is no possibility of reconciliation? How do you get free from the burden of a painful past and step forward with a new, more hopeful outlook on life, the world and the Church?
It is a common experience for people to have questions or feel conflicted about the faith. Different things may trouble us and become an obstacle to spiritual growth and active participation within the faith community. A feeling of alienation or disillusionment may beset someone because of a hurtful experience with an individual personality, a misunderstanding, or a mistaken understanding concerning what the church teaches.  Sometimes people are in situations, often involving a marriage, that they think makes it difficult to maintain a relationship with Christ and his Church.
No matter what your circumstances, pains or questions, Fr. Tom Odorizzi, C.O., Pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Parish, is willing to listen to you, talk with you about your relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church, and help you find a way to take another step forward.

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