“Ask a Priest: What If My Parents Won’t Drive Me to Mass?”

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Q: I’m 19 years old and don’t have a driver’s license yet, so I rely on parents for transportation wherever I need to go. There have been times where my parents have plans on a Sunday and they tell me that it’s not going to work out for me to be taken to Mass. Sometimes when I ask in advance or remind my parents about Mass, they ask if I could just go a different day or watch Mass online. I do not know what it is like to be a busy adult or parent, and I can only imagine that it is a lot to run errands, go to appointments, and transport one of their children like me to where I need to go. I’m thankful for them and for what they do and have done for me. But they are my only transportation to Mass, and sometimes public transportation does not work out, and taxis are expensive. Is it sinful to not go to Mass because my parents say it won’t work out or because they are busy? I’ve had the thought for the past few months that even though my parents disagree, I should still try to help them change their mind. But I also know it’s important to honor and obey my parents, which I fail to do a lot. In a situation where disagreeing and or bickering could start or has begun, what should I do when my parents say going to Mass won’t work on a holy day of obligation and if it creates some tension or annoyance between us as family members? – Y.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: Well did Jesus warn, “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother” (Luke 12:51-53).

Through all kinds of adversity, it’s good to keep our focus on the most important one in our lives, God.

God is deserving of our worship, and attendance at Mass on Sunday and holy days is a fundamental obligation in this regard.

For people to say that they are too busy for Sunday Mass is a sign that priorities need to change.

You aren’t dishonoring your parents by insisting on getting to Mass. If you depend on them for transportation, it’s really an obligation for them. They too are obliged to attend Mass.

You might explain to them why going to Mass is so important for you, and ask them to explain why it is not a priority for them. To equip yourself for this conversation you might want to look at a few Church documents first, namely, Dominicae Cenae, Ecclesia de Eucharistia and Sacramentum Caritatis.

It’s actually a sign of love if you can get them to attend Mass. A big part of a healthy family is that the members help one another get to heaven, and Mass attendance is crucial.

It might be good to talk with your parents in-depth about this.

If they refuse to take you to Mass, they should cover the cost of a taxi or Uber. Or you might try getting your own license or hitching a ride with a parishioner. You might check with the parish to see if anyone lives nearby.

In the event that you absolutely can’t get to Mass, the onus is on your parents. You can only do what you can do.

In the meantime, it might be good to intensify your prayers and sacrifices for your family. They might be slipping into a secular way of thinking that leaves God on the margin. This is a recipe for long-term disaster.

Stay close to the Blessed Virgin Mary through the rosary. She will intercede for you.


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One Comment
  1. Good response Father. True, if the teen is still under age, the parents are responsible for ensuring they practice the faith. Not taking them to Mass MIGHT be a judgment to them (by God)

    If walking to church and Mass is not possible, Father is correct — explain the situation to the pastor of need for transportation and I am sure he can connect you to a parishioner of your neighborhood, or maybe there is a church bus that picks up others who can’t drive (for whatever reason) How about a bike? Can you bike to the closest Catholic Church if not the one of your parish registration? if your church does not have bike racks to lock bikes to, might be a good suggestion to the pastor. (I remember in my early 20s when I was not yet able to afford a car, pedaling to a job and then on a lunch time of enough time, I pedaled to a daily Mass at noon (imitating mom who always went to daily Mass in her youth) I brought the bike right into the church and parked in behind last pew (and sat in last pew) I just did it, but YOU MIGHT want to check that its ok with pastor… and certainly you couldn’t do that with Sunday Mass (too many people) A bike rack near church doors (with security camera trained on that area) would be a good thing.

    There is also the option of Saturday evening Mass, for the Sunday obligation.

    Talk to the pastor, he’ll provide the way to get to Sunday Mass. This teen’s faithfulness might be the ‘grace’
    his parents need to give their faith a boost.

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