An explanation of “Why I am Roman Catholic”
When you look at human nature it becomes pretty obvious why I am a Roman Catholic Christian. We are all a product of our environment and mine just happens to be Roman Catholic. In 1996, there was a mother in the Dominican Republic living with her three month old baby. The baby, fatherless, and truly unexpected by the mother and everyone around her, was given to a Catholic couple to take care off. The mother reluctant to leave her newborn to strangers felt like she had no other choice. She had recently been granted a visa to go to the United States of America, an opportunity that most people in the Dominican Republic dream of for their whole life. Unfortunately the Department of Immigration told her she was not going to be able to bring her newborn baby with her.
Rejected by own blood I was left to the hands of God. The church became my new family and it was all I knew, unknowingly. Rafael and Esperanza became my godparents and they were the ones that took care of me. With four kids of their own and a handful of grandkids they took me in with open arms. My mother’s best friend at the time was married to one of their sons. The only other connection she had to these people was that they went to the same church. At three months she left me and entrusted me with those strangers and for 5 1/2 years I lived with them and was nurtured by their love.
The fundamental roots of my Catholicism started in the Dominican Republic and followed into the US. At the age of six something seemed wrong about my church experience. I went from a household that was active and vocal members of the church to one that wasn’t. My godparents knew everyone at church and everyone at church knew us. They knew our first and last name, they knew where we lived, they knew what we did, and they even knew our favorite foods. There was nothing that they didn’t know about us, they were family. In the United States my new family had no loyalty to the church. My mother would drop me off for Sunday school but not attend Sunday mass. Sometimes we would go to English masses and sometimes Spanish masses. Whenever my mother came to services she never took communion and it was something that subconsciously bothered me. When I lived in the Dominican Republic we used to pray every night before we went to sleep. We would start with the Our Father and then a Hail Mary asking for her blessing to watch over us throughout the night. Sometimes I prayed with my godmother, sometimes my godfather, and sometimes my uncle but every night we prayed. When I came to the U.S. this was not the case.
If you could be on top of your communion class, that was me! I was outspoken and understood a lot of the ethical points and lessons being taught in the Bible at a young age. Nevertheless I did not like being patronized for being a kid. Although I did believe in God, as a good Christian should, I did question a lot of what was being taught in our class. My mother who had only known me for a year or two thought that I was too immature for communion and decided that I should repeat the course and take communion again next year. It felt like my relationship with God was being forced and I did not respect the people forcing it upon me.
I grew tired of the hypocrisy that I saw in churchgoers, my parents and family as the prime example. They were forcing this religion upon me when they themselves did not believe in God. My mother did get married when I was living in the Dominican Republic, but at the age of eight my parents got divorced. It was clear that my parents were unhappy together, maybe if they truly had God in their lives it would have been different. My godparents were the happiest people and their wisdom and kindness was felt by everyone around them. The same cannot be said for my mother. It was the summer of sixth grade when I learned about Saint Ignatius. I was entering a Jesuit middle school and we had mandatory sleep away camp in Lake Placid New York for six weeks. This would repeat for my three years of middle school. The life and story of St. Ignatius of Loyola is similar to that of St. Augustine. What I loved the most about my Jesuit studies was that it was less about preaching the word of God and more about the individual struggle to find God. The individual reform to becoming the best form of yourself possible was something that I could stand on no matter what my relationship with God was. It was their goal that by the time we graduated we met the 5 grad at grad values: open to growth, intellectually competent, religious, loving, and committed to doing justice.
When we were asked to define what our religious beliefs were in the first day of class, I was shocked that without hesitation I said Roman Catholic. I can not tell you the last time I went to mass or even stepped foot in a church. “My relationship with God is complicated,” that’s what I have always said. It has always bothered me and still does to put it under a category. I graduated from a Jesuit middle and high school, and both times we were asked to reflect upon the 5 grad at grad values. Each time the conclusion was that religious was my weakest, because deep down I knew/know it’s the hardest one.