“Ask a Priest: What If My Baptist Parents Oppose My Entry Into the Church?”

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Q:  I am 18 years old, still in high school. I have e-mailed before about how I want to convert to Catholicism, but my parents won’t allow it until I graduate. My conversion journey so far has been very difficult. My Baptist parents have many problems with the Church. I have started to feel ashamed of my Baptist upbringing and resentment toward my parents for making my search for truth so difficult and lonesome. I know they love me and have the best intentions. Please, how can I fight the temptation to resent them and my Protestant background? – J.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: Thanks for your note. It’s not unusual that you are experiencing difficulties in your journey of conversion.

This is precisely the moment when the devil pulls out his bag of tricks and tries his best to distract and dissuade a soul from coming closer to Jesus.

As for your parents: This is a moment when Jesus is inviting you to love as he loves. Your parents are probably doing what they think is right: protecting the daughter they love from a Church they distrust.

Here you could recognize that, while they are objectively wrong, they might be subjectively right — in the sense that they are trying to follow their conscience. It is understandable that people who have lived in a Protestant setting all or most of their lives will have deeply formed views of the Catholic Church that aren’t easy to change.

So what to do? Perhaps a few suggestions might help.

First, remember that the real culprit here is the devil. He loves to stir up disunity in families, just as he stirred up disunity in the Church which led to the Reformation.

Second, intensify your prayers for your parents. More than a few converts have helped to bring loved ones into the Church by their example and prayers.

To keep the peace you might consider waiting until graduation to convert. You are certainly within your rights to enter the Church, and your deference to their desire could reassure them of your respect for them.

At a practical level, the best assurance you can give your parents about the legitimacy of your journey toward the Catholic Church is your own growth in charity. If they see you loving and persevering, that will make an impact on them. It might even get them to rethink their attitudes about Catholicism.

Third, keep your focus on Jesus and what he is asking of you. This is something you will need to do throughout your life. Today it’s your parents who are trying to distract you from the path you choose. Tomorrow it will be someone else. You want to keep your eye on the ball, so to speak. All the things and relationships of this world are passing. The love of Jesus endures.

In the meantime keep going deeper into Church teachings and cultivate a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It will bring her joy to watch over a beloved daughter who wants to draw closer to her Son.

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