I’ve been thinking about what to write for this column for a few weeks and just as I thought I had it figured out, I would scratch the topic and decide on another. I have spent time reflecting on the importance of empathy, forgiveness, diversity and unconditional love. I also, like many of you, have been struggling to understand the current instances of oppression and abuse within the Catholic church. Feelings of anger and disgust have led to me to doubt my faith. I have asked myself if I am doing the right thing by sending my children to Catholic school and carving out the time in our busy schedule to go to Mass every week. And I wonder how I might explain to my children that church leaders took advantage of those they should have protected most. Through prayer, I have come to realize that it is not God that I am angry with, because God’s Will encompasses all that is good including the important values I initially thought to write about. I will continue to strive to maintain closeness with God and to be confident in my Catholic faith.
I am hopeful that we, as a faith community, stay the course and embrace the universal truths of Catholicism. It is comforting to know there are people all over the world who identify as Catholic and practice the teachings of Christ. My family and I were fortunate to recently experience universality at Notre Dame Cathedral in Saigon, Vietnam. As we entered the basilica for Sunday mass, cultural differences and language barriers were not relevant as we were embraced by our extended Catholic community. We were united with the familiar customs of the Mass and felt the presence of God as closely as we do at St. Juliana Church.
This is a trying time and I am grateful and to be a part of our parish and school community. I pray that God’s presence is felt and will serve as a reminder for us to remain steadfast in our dedication to Him and each other.
Mary McNamara is a teacher, a mother of four, all of whom attend St. Juliana School, and, with her husband John, has been a parishioner of Saint Juliana for 14 years.