“Ask a Priest: What If I Feel Betrayed by Laypeople in a Ministry?”

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Q: For 10 years by my husband and I have been members of a lay Catholic evangelical group that has a womb-to-tomb ministry. A few months ago, our city chapter leader and his spouse removed us from service in the core group and said that we were an obstacle to their moving forward in ministry. They refused to explain. We have had occasional differences about administrative matters in the past, but nothing that we believe were so serious as to what was said. We feel that this move stemmed from some deep-rooted dislike that this leader has for us. We are fine with not being in the core group because in this mission the leader has the authority to choose; but it is very hard to get past the reason stated and how it was done. We decided to continue in the mission and do whatever we can to serve the Lord. Yet, we see that we are continually sidelined. We recognize that we made some mistakes too, but at times we are overwhelmed by a sense of betrayal, lies and hypocrisy from the very people who professed to be our brothers and sisters in Christ. We try to leave it to the Lord in prayer, and in spite of knowing that this is not a big cross to carry, I find myself wanting justice or at least an explanation. Am I right in having such expectations? How do I deal with them and find peace? Is it better to leave the group? – S.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: I’m sorry to hear about the situation. Yet it’s not unusual.

Wherever there is an apostolate to help souls and build the Church, there seems to be a fair amount of disunity and disagreements. Part of this is thanks to the devil, who makes a special effort to get people fighting one another. Disunity is usually the devil’s calling card.

With that in mind you might consider staying and working to build up the work as best you can, notwithstanding the treatment you have faced.

Ultimately it helps us to do things for Jesus alone, and not because we will be praised by people around us.

I’m not implying that you and your spouse are involved in self-seeking here. It’s just that sometimes, despite our best efforts, we are misunderstood and unappreciated. This is why it helps to keep your focus on Jesus (he suffered the same kind of treatment). Do things for the glory of God and the good of souls, and you won’t go wrong.

Remember, too, that even in the darkest situations, the light of Christ can shine if we maintain a spirit of forgiveness and mercy

Nonetheless, it’s a prudential decision whether to stay with this particular group or to move on and dedicate your efforts to something else.

You might want to take some of this to prayer and see where the Holy Spirit is leading you. Then make your best decision.

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