“Ask a Priest: What If My Family Seeks a Church It Can Call Home?”

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Q: My family and I recently stopped attending a Methodist church because we weren’t being fed spiritually, and the youth ministry became non-existent for my daughter. I’ve grown up Methodist; my husband grew up Catholic. Currently, my daughter attends a Catholic private school, and we love the education she’s getting there. I’ve attended the church service at her school several times and often feel lost. I don’t know if I’m allowed to do the sign of the cross, don’t know if I should kneel in front of Mary, don’t know if I should take Communion or ask for a blessing — just so many “don’t knows.” My family needs a church home, and I’m wondering if I should give Catholicism a try. But converting is so intimidating. The youth ministry is thriving at her school’s church and this is a plus as well. I’m so torn. – T.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It sounds as though the Holy Spirit is inspiring you to look into the Catholic faith more.

Our Lord is guiding and accompanying you on this journey, which can seem a bit mysterious or even daunting at times. It’s good to take things step by step.

You are welcome to attend Mass, but you shouldn’t receive Communion. That is for Catholics who are in a state of grace. (In any case, you also share in the blessing at the end of Mass, so there is no need to go up for a blessing at Communion time.)

You are certainly welcome to pray to Mary. You understand, of course, that Catholics don’t worship her (much less a statue of her!). Catholics might kneel in front of a statue in order to put themselves in a better frame of mind to pray to the saint represented by the statue.

If you have an interest in joining the Church, you might consider entering an RCIA program at the nearest Catholic parish.

This is a program that would give instruction in the key beliefs and practices of the Catholic faith. Many people in this program will enter the Church at the Easter vigil Mass.

In the meantime, it would be good to intensify your prayer life and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and your family.

You might consider reading a bit more about the faith. A good resource for people of all ages (despite its name) is the Youth Catechism, or YouCat. You might even get copies for all the family and read it together.

Also helpful could be our Retreat Guide on St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, a convert.

And stay close to Mary. She can help your journey seem less intimidating.

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