“Ask a Priest: I’m Scared … Would the Church Welcome Me Back?”

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Q: For my earlier life I was brought up in the Catholic Church. But eventually my parents moved away from religion, and I just stopped attending. This happened before confirmation. Now as an adult, for the past few years especially, I have felt something pulling me toward the Church, but I’ve been holding back because, being honest, I’m a little scared. I don’t know where I stand exactly. Will I be welcome at church? Am I a Catholic without being confirmed? I just don’t know. – G.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: You are most certainly welcome in the Church. You are still considered a beloved son of the Church. Your baptism brought you into her fold.

In fact, I would say that the desires you are discovering in your heart are a sure sign that God himself is moving you from within, inviting you to come closer to him and to discover the grace and meaning that he has in store for you.

You might want to consider a few steps.

First, it would be good to go to confession. There are lots of resources on the Internet that could help you prepare for this, you can find an example HERE. If the idea of going to confession makes you nervous, you might want to watch this little video about it: From Sorrow to Joy: A Retreat Guide on the Sacrament of Confession. Scroll down to the bottom to start the video.

Don’t worry about shocking the priest. He will be glad to have you come to confession. At any rate he cannot reveal anything said in confession.

Second, you might want to consider some kind of program that would prepare you for confirmation. The best thing would be to speak with someone at your local parish. Perhaps they would recommend the RCIA program.

In the meantime, it would be good to start attending Mass regularly (Sundays and holy days of obligation), and to make time for prayer every day. Try reading a bit of the Gospels daily, too. This book by my colleague Father John Bartunek might help you: “The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer.

The key thing is to be pro-active. Try to make a plan for when you will contact the local parish, or plan a day to go to confession if you think you are ready. You will want to refrain from receiving Communion until you get to confession first.

Cultivate a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, too. She can be a great help. And pray for your parents that they return to the faith. Praying for them will strengthen your own faith.


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