I was baptized and raised Catholic until just about 2007 when I threw in the towel and realized that the feeling like my puzzle piece just did not fit was not all in my head. I went to several different parishes throughout my life and attended CCD classes for most of my school years. I hung on dearly to the teachings of my mom who taught me that I was a Christian first and Catholicism was the religion we practiced. I defended my beliefs and got indignant when the Catholic religion was ridiculed, but then one day I just couldn't do it anymore.
To say that I am not horrified by the allegations of the parish priests and Msgr. Lynn would be lying....but I knew it was coming at least for Lynn. I belonged to St. Joe's Parish from the time we moved to Downingtown in 1994. I tried to attend church regularly, but it was difficult if a priest that I did not like was serving mass. Then in 2004 or 05 Msgr. McFadden left to become a Bishop and the parish got Msgr Lynn who seemed like a quiet mannered man. Now my memories of the years up until a few years ago are foggy due to life circumstances, but I distinctly recall Msgr. Lynn giving the parishioners a mea culpa when serving for a late mass on a Sunday. That to me was it...I was done. I never felt welcomed at St. Joe's...too many parishioners appeared to be too caught up in the cliques of the church. Prep as it was now called was going to cost me an arm and a leg for my boys to get additional religious education, they wanted me to tithe 33% of my earnings (they got $5 a week from me) and then I was to look the other way when someone I was to confess my sins to and to turn to when I needed spiritual guidance had proven himself to be a sinner of the worst kind and had apparently guaranteed himself a place in hell? I couldn't do it. So I went looking for my spiritual being because she no longer existed at that church. It took awhile and a few false starts, but I found my way and a church where I feel comfortable and welcomed.
But now I read the stories and the Grand Jury testimony about the alleged abusers and Msgr Lynn's part in it and I feel shaken and a bit betrayed. Even though I no longer call myself Catholic and I would not go back I have always tried to show others who are less tolerant of the religion that it is not all that bad. Now what do I say to them? Can I really defend Catholic priests and the vow of celibacy and any other sacrament when it has happened in our own backyard? I have been on my knees lately figuratively and literally trying to reconcile what this all means to me and I have not found and answer...tears come when I read or hear the stories and a sinking feeling in my heart. So I will for the time being accept that a crisis of faith in times like this is not exactly bad if it keeps you on your knees.