What if Our Children Leave the Church?


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This is a question my husband asked me a couple of years ago when we went on a World Wide Marriage Encounter weekend. I could write a whole post about this amazing program, which helped strengthen communication within our marriage and build trust, but that will have to wait for another day.

Today, I want to focus on this question that my husband posed to me during our time there.

“What if our children leave the Catholic Church?”

I am not sure what kind of contorted facial response I gave him but I do know my mind was reeling.

What would I do? What would that mean?

I responded, “It would break my heart. It would break it into a million pieces.”
Oh yes, I realize I have a flare for the dramatic but that’s how I imagined I would feel.

Then he said, “Well, what if they just went to a different Christian church? Not became atheists or anything like that.”

“I mean, that would be better than no belief at all,” I said, “but it would still make me so sad. If that happened then it means we failed in teaching them the truths of the Catholic faith. It means that we didn’t do enough, say enough, or know enough.”

This exchange came up when we were discussing a topic (one which I honestly can’t remember). My husband was asking about my two year long obsession with listening to Catholic Podcasts like; Catholic Answers, Go Ask Your Father, The Patrick Madrid Show, etc. — and also with my reading (or mostly purchasing of) TONS of apologetics materials. I am also a faithful viewer of The Journey Home on EWTN and love listening to conversion and reversion stories. I could not, and still cannot, get enough of these resources.

Of course, as my husband pointed out, all of this wasn’t a bad thing but the way I was going about it was less than ideal. An example of this used to happen every night, whenever he would come home from work, I would be rushing around making dinner with my earbuds in while listening to one of my podcasts and I would barely acknowledge him. Looking back, I see that was not a good thing. I think he was also concerned that I was building up my arsenal of defenses to unload on the next unsuspecting LDS missionary, JW, or non-Catholic the moment they questioned my faith. Yes, I want to be able to defend my faith and the Church. However, I am not one to seek out confrontation and being an apologist is definitely not in my skill set.

I explained to my husband that I wasn’t sure what was happening or why I had this insatiable fire within. I didn’t (and still don’t) exactly know what God is preparing me for – but it is for something. I told him about my desire to start a blog sharing the JOY of the Catholic faith with others (I did that!). I told him that the Lord could be preparing me to be a Catholic author, a speaker, or ministry leader — or perhaps I just need to know these things for the purpose of evangelizing our family and myself.

If I couldn’t defend my faith to someone who isn’t Catholic or even articulate WHY I am Catholic (and neither could he), then what chance would we have of raising kids that could do it? We have to prepare ourselves, so we can prepare them. He agreed.

Living in a world where indifference and relativism are spreading like wildfire, our boys could easily be sucked right into that way of thinking. It is our job as Catholic parents to do whatever we can to prepare them to not only face it, but stand firm and defend when necessary.

If this is important to you to (and I hope that it is) I recommend all the resources listed above. Also, I HIGHLY recommend Trent Horn’s book, Why We are Catholic: Our Reasons for Faith Hope and Love. Excellent for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

“…always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…”
1 Peter 3:15

“What if our boys leave the church”

My hope is that I never have to face that question – but if the time does come, I know I have to place them in the hands of the Lord and pray like Saint Monica – unceasingly. I’ll love them like I always have, say Rosaries for them, spend hours in Adoration praying for them, make sacrifices, answer their questions the best I can, and anything else I can think of. I’ll also know that we probably could have done something more or different (we are far from experts) but for better or worse my husband and I will have done the best we could for our children. And really, that is all any of us can do.

So what things are we doing to try to keep our kids Catholic? I’ll be sharing that next time 🙂

May the Lord bless and keep you ✝️

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Tim McGee says:

    This is tough. Our job as parents is to raise them as best we can and love them through everything. My kids have grown up going to Catholic schools, prayed together as a family, regular church attendees, kids were altar servers and active in the church youth activities. But they’ve fallen away. Not “not Catholic” but not in full communion. And yes, it breaks my heart. So I continue to live as a Catholic dad hoping my example leads them back into full communion. And all the while I just keep loving them.


    1. Christie says:

      Tim, thank you for sharing that. Stories like yours both worry and encourage me. It is worrisome because it sounds like you did all the things parents (myself included) might think would keep children in full communion with the Church, without them ever wanting to leave or stray. It is encouraging that as a parent, though it is painful, you keep doing what you have always done; leading by example, loving them, and praying for them. I suppose that is all parents can do once their children become adults. No one can walk with God for us, that relationship is uniquely our own. Some will stray for a bit, some will leave – but some will stay and some who left will come back more on fire than ever before. The hope for me is that if my children were to leave, the foundation that was laid and the graces received through the Sacraments will sustain them in any storm and bring them back one day. I will pray for you and your family. God bless!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tim McGee says:

        Thanks Christie. My kids are good kids. They’ve fallen a bit for the world view of thinking they can believe without being a practicing Catholic (or, for many others, any other “religion’). My wife says, “no one told me how hard it is to parent an adult child.” They are still young adults, but they want (and even deserve) their independence. Tough stuff. Haha … worries never go away, they just change form. Love never stops.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Christie says:

        You sound like amazing parents! A blessing to your children. 😊


      3. Tim McGee says:

        Haha … my kids may think otherwise! But we love them and they love us so … God is amazing!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Christie says:

        You might be surprised, but even if they don’t admit it now I bet when they have their own children they will! And you’re right, God is amazing 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Jenny says:

    Ugh, one of the things I have tried so hard to make sure I do all the “right” things so it never happens. But as Tim mentioned, parenting adult children is hard and a parent can do all the “right” things only to have a child make a different choice. Dang original sin and free will, lol!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Christie says:

      Right? I couldn’t agree more! We just got to keep trying and pray something will stir and their hearts will be ablaze with love of the Lord and His One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church 🙏❤


  3. Ugh! This is so hard to even consider! As my children have grown I’ve realized doing all the “right” things doesn’t always equal the intended or hoped for the outcome…darn free will, lol!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fouad says:

    This is such a great article!


    1. Christie says:

      Thank you! 😊


  5. Sister In Christ says:

    The brainwashing begins early in the ” Catholic Church” the facts are, as stated within the King James version that WE ARE NOT TO WORSHIP a church, ONLY GOD!
    Additionally, Only God can forgive our sins, not some man in a box. These men who have placed themselves in high regard, the ceremony the gowns the hats the rings the glitz and fake glamour all to make those onlookers believe this is “HOLY?” Judgment begins at the Pulpit. The ” Catholic Church” is not one of the two churches God found favor with, and frankly the Catholic church has been created with its own understanding of how to worship, who’s ring to kiss and what garb to wear to have the fake appearance of being pure. I am sickened that WE do not stand against those that would attack the innocent, and support the Devils agenda! To molest, rape and pimp out our most innocent!!! Who is sicker? The Catholic church uses shame and fear to control us. What we need to remember is that our relationship with GOD is not validated thru some clown who supports, knows and or is directly involved in some of the most horrible sins ever. God is clear, on the punishment for those who rape, rape children and pre-plan murder.
    Make no mistake, your MONEY keeps the “Church going!!! SHAME on all of those who continue in this INSTITUTION, claiming to be a member speaks for itself.. As for those who would say that I am being judgmental, hogwash! Identifying sin, allows us to stand against it. Ignoring it allows it to grow. GOD is the judge as to who gets what for the works we have done, and GOD clearly wants all of his children to stand against sin!! Any who point their finger at those who bring attention to or refuse to support those who sin are clearly mislead. We are allowed to and can determine what is sinful and what acts are not. I am happy to have my relationship with God directly, no man on earth can get us any closer to him than ourselves.
    In Truth.


    1. Christie says:

      Dear Sister in Christ,

      Easter blessings to you and your family! We are so looking forward to celebrating the glorious Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

      Before I address some of your issues, I would first like to take a moment to thank you for visiting my blog and reading what I have written and express your opinion. I think having charitable dialogues are critical to uniting all Christians – Catholics, Evangelicals, and Protestants alike. We probably agree on a great many things, but I also understand that our theology will differ in many ways. In fact, you have pointed out several things that really get under your skin about the Catholic Church. They are widely circulated misconceptions, and nothing I haven’t heard before.

      Do you know that the Easter doesn’t end tomorrow, it will go for the next 50 days, until Pentecost – which is not only the glorious day that the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles, it is also the birthday of the Church? The Church that Jesus establish upon the Rock of Peter our first Pope. It’s true! There is an unbroken line of Popes that can be traced from St. Peter all the way to Pope Francis.

      Have you read anything from the early Church Fathers? The men who were the Apostles to the Apostles? If not, I encourage you do so. I found it to be quite enlightening as I made my way back to the Church.

      Oh, and I completely agree with you – you should definitely NOT worship a church! But you can worship IN a Church (just not right now because of the quarantine and all). Worship is reserved for God alone. See we agree on something 😊

      Let’s talk about some of your other misconceptions…

      You mention that you think the Catholic Church begins “brainwashing” early. I am sorry but I honestly don’t even know what you mean by that. Parents are the first educators and teachers for our children. I don’t “brainwash” my children to speak English, I teach them. I don’t “brainwash” my children to understand morality, I teach them. I don’t “brainwash” my children to be Catholic, I teach them about the beauty and truths of the Catholic faith. I am sure you wouldn’t consider the instruction you give your children in matters of faith as “brainwashing”. Do you consider having children memorize Bible verses or telling them that Jesus loves them “brainwashing”? We teach our children Bible verses and so do most of the Protestants I know, and I consider that teaching, not “brainwashing”.

      You mention the King James Version of the Bible. It is missing 7 books of the Old Testament, so I have never read that translation. I prefer my Bibles to be complete. Sister in Christ, do you know who compiled the Bible in the first place? Do you know under whose authority the books of the New Testament, that both you and I read, were determined? It wasn’t any Protestant denomination – it was by the authority given to the Church, by Jesus. I highly recommend reading the book Where We Got the Bible – Our Debt to the Catholic Church. Here’s a link to get the free digital download of it https://www.catholic.com/where-we-got-the-bible

      Oh, and then there is the issue of Reconciliation. It is the most misunderstood and beautiful gifts of mercy. I am so grateful that the Lord Jesus granted the Apostles the authority to forgive sin and established the priesthood. I am sure you are familiar with John 20:19–23. “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

      So through Apostolic Succession the priest has been given the authority to forgive or retain sin. Also, when the priest gives absolution he says:

      “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son, has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sin, through the ministry of the Church. May God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

      You say that the Church uses shame and fear to control people, and that is not true. Jesus established the Church and provided the Sacrament of Reconciliation, from which to pour out his abundant grace and Divine Mercy. Yes, Church doctrine is written to lay out what is sinful based on the Lord’s Commandments.

      But you completely lose me in your rational.

      You try to shame me (and anyone else who is Catholic) by actually typing the words, “SHAME on all of those who continue in this INSTITUTION, claiming to be a member speaks for itself.”

      That kind of sounds like you are shaming – but let’s continue.

      Then you say, “Identifying sin, allows us to stand against it. Ignoring it allows it to grow…and GOD clearly wants all of his children to stand against sin!!”

      And to that I say, Amen Sister in Christ! I do agree with that point. It isn’t loving to allow people to continue in their sin we must meet them where they are and show them the light and truth of Christ. Jesus showed us this time and time again. He loves us just the way we are, but he also loves us too much to let us stay that way. “Go and sin no more.”, is what he says. That is exactly why the Sacrament of Reconciliation is such a gift! It is so freeing!

      But then you lost me when you said, “We are allowed to and can determine what is sinful and what acts are not.”

      Huh? I mean what about those people you spoke about earlier that did horrendous things? I think we agree that is beyond sinful. It is evil! But what if those people don’t think it’s a sin? What if they think harming children, or taking advantage of people is okay? Are not allowed to say what is sinful? We don’t have to, because God tells us in his Commandments and through the authority of the Catholic Church – which by the way was THE Church for all Christian until the Protestant Revolution. Now there are around 33,000 denominations. No wonder atheism is so prevalent – people are only getting part of the Truth. Some more than others.

      As for the wealth of the Church that you mentioned. “…many of the great cathedrals of Europe were built with donations and labor from the poor, who wanted to build such monuments to God’s goodness and sovereignty. The Vatican does not control enormous liquid wealth, and its annual operating budget has been compared to that of a large archdiocese such as that of Chicago.
      In spite of this, the Catholic Church is still one of the most giving institutions on earth, running and supporting countless charities, relief organizations, hospitals, and similar enterprises at great cost to the Church.” Via Catholic Answers

      There is so much more to say but it is late and I must leave you with this. The fullness of Truth can only be found in the Catholic Church and please know that I say that out of love. That statement isn’t just a matter of faith, that is a historical fact backed up by ancient writings and thousands of years of tradition that date back to the Apostles.

      Please stop by any time with questions or concerns. I’ll do my best to try and answer them or point you to someone who can. I will be praying for you, Sister in Christ. May the Lord bless and keep you.


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