“Ask a Priest: Is There Hope for Me If I Didn’t Raise My Daughter in the Faith?”

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Q: I have terrible guilt about not raising my daughter in the Church. I have a good relationship with the Lord, but why should he allow me into heaven, if possibly my daughter doesn’t believe, since it’s my fault? I’m taking my grandson for his religion classes but not sure if she’ll let me do it again with the other two. She says she does believe, but I’m not certain, and I don’t think it’s on her mind much. I feel guilty for me having a relationship with God, and she doesn’t really because of my own failure as a parent. – L.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: Where there is life, there is hope.

That you recognize a failing from the past is a good first step toward seeking a remedy.

You mention that your daughter says she does believe. For now, take that at face value. The fact that she isn’t outright rejecting religion could be a sign for an opening.

Then, consider having a heart-to-heart talk with your daughter and explain your sorrow for the past.

If she seems open, ask her if you could help raise your grandchildren in the faith. You might share how you see the faith now, and how much you want the kids to take advantage of it.

In the meantime, it would be good to intensify your prayers and sacrifices for your daughter and the children.

The grace of God could work wonders. But he might be waiting for your contribution (the prayers and sacrifices).

What you want to avoid is spending your remaining years lamenting the past. What’s done is done. You can’t redo the past, but with the grace of God you can merit the help that the grandchildren need to learn the faith and that your daughter needs to embrace the faith.

And remember: The Church is a church of second chances.

Our history is filled with the stories of saintly people – from Augustine to Dorothy Day – who made their share of mistakes in youth. If they made to heaven, you can too with the grace of God.

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