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viewpoint

ND brought me to leave Catholicism

| Thursday, September 29, 2016

“Look at what I can do now, watch! In the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Amen,” my niece exclaimed over FaceTime the other day. She was showing me how preschool taught her how to pray, starting with the Sign of the Cross. She was giddy to show people, and of course it made the other Catholics in my family proud. However, all I could do was force a smile and say, “good job” without feeling too much pride. It felt odd to me that my three-year-old niece believed in religion, especially when I didn’t. However, she’s only three, so she believes anything that her family and teachers tell her. Still, it threw me off.

I grew up just like her, though. I attended a Catholic preschool, then a Catholic elementary school and middle school. We said the “Our Father” daily and had school-wide masses every Monday during Advent. We dedicated entire classes to learning about Lent and what we were giving up that year. I never questioned being Catholic because it was ingrained in me. I believed in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

However, when I went to public high school, I started to question what I was saying during Mass. I was still active in the Catholic Church; I went to mass every Sunday and monthly CCD. I was confirmed my sophomore year of high school, and I spent a lot of time my junior and senior year with the youth program.

But still, in the back of my head, something didn’t feel quite right. I hated going to Mass and I resented reading the Bible. I didn’t feel any love towards God. God was not an entity, but rather a question which lingered in the back of my mind. My faith felt artificial, and saying I truly believed in God felt like I was trying to swallow sand.

That changed, however, when I got to Notre Dame.

I thought a Catholic university would bring me closer to God, but the freedom of college is what originally made me turn away. Being on my own schedule meant that I could pick when I had to go to Mass, if I wanted to go at all. I no longer felt obligated to go, even though so many of my friends invited me to a dorm mass every Sunday. Instead, I spent my Sunday’s focusing on my classes, some of which made me question God in new ways.

One of the most influential classes I took my freshmen year was my “Foundations of Theology” class. The more I read about God, the less I believed in Him. I questioned why God would even care about humanity when there was so much more to the universe than us. Being at Notre Dame gave me the opportunity to really question the things I believed in. Notre Dame shaped my faith in an ironic way. By requiring that I study the Catholic Church, it has made me realize I do not truly believe in its beliefs or teachings.

Ultimately, I concluded that I cannot be in Church that I don’t fully believe in. While the Catholic Church may be for some, it no longer is for me.

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About Grace Tourville

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  • SG

    I’m not particularly religious anymore myself. I only attend Mass when my family visits because they love the Basilica. I was definitely a better Catholic before I came here, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that ND “brought me to leave” anything.

    It’s natural to question one’s beliefs, especially at this stage in life. My initial reaction when I was a freshman/sophomore was to just avoid all things religion, because I didn’t think God was worth my time contemplating. After all, there might not even be a god, so why waste time thinking about this stuff when I’ve got homework and clubs and a hundred other things to worry about?

    But over the last couple years I realized that college represents a stage in life where we can spend time contemplating the big questions. It’s a time where we can really try to figure out who we are and what purpose (if there is one) there is to life. I still don’t attend Mass more than once a month, I haven’t been to confession in close to four years, and I don’t plan on doing anything sprcial when Lent rolls around. But I have taken more time to look at my life as a big picture, and I make the time to really try and figure out what I believe in. I guess my point is that pretty soon we’ll be out of school and won’t have the time to ask these important questions. So whether it’s a religion/philo elective, a meaningful conversation with your friends/family, or just some quiet time to think, I’d just like to encourage everyone to take time away from daily concerns and figure out what you believe. Even if you’re still a devout Catholic, there is still a lot of perspective to be gained outside of the Church.

    Sorry this was such a ramble, probably could’ve written my own Viewpoint haha!

  • ProfessorBarb

    I don’t think ND brought you to leave the Catholic Church. It seems like that journey started long before you got there. The beauty of college is you have the freedom to make your own choices regarding faith and other core values, regardless of what you are being taught or the examples around you. I hope you continue to search for that which will satisfy your innermost yearnings and the restlessness of your heart. Who knows? Perhaps you will be led home.