By Mary Beckfeld
In a letter to her family, Mary Beckfeld explains why she loves the Catholic Church enough to stay.
To my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren:
Some of you repeatedly ask: “Mom, why do you stay in a church that discriminates against you?” I know I haven’t answered you satisfactorily, but in this letter I am going to attempt to do just that.
I stay because this is the church of my parents, my grandparents, and my ancestors. This is the church that fed and nourished me as a young child. The Jesus stories, the sacramental preparations, partaking in the sacraments, even the liturgies that exclude me as a woman, have formed and made me who I am today.
As an adult, I have come to appreciate that the church that Jesus came to establish is bigger than the one I was raised in, and much more inclusive than what I was led to believe. I have come to accept the fact that if my life is fully dedicated to the God who loves me, I must first recognize God in everyone I encounter: family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers on the street. I must also recognize God’s wonderful work in all of creation. I accept that if I fail to see God in all of creation, I fail to see God. This is a powerful concept for me, the former throw away queen.
I love the church. I stay because I have found a community within the church where I am always welcome and always loved. This community is comprised of my friends in the diaconate program, the CSJ community, and those involved with CPCSM, Catholic Rainbow Parents, and The Progressive Catholic Voice.
I despise and resent what some in positions of authority are doing to the church. Yet I stay because this church is my history, my story. In particular, I have been shaped by my experiences in the diaconate program. If I left, I would be leaving a part of myself that was formed by my ancestors. I stay because the church of Jesus Christ is who I am – warts and all.
I stay because the sacraments and all they represent mean so much to me. I stay because the gift of faith is my strength in times of sorrow, struggle, and loneliness. I stay because this church is still home – warts and all.
Hopefully, this letter answers some of your questions and will help strengthen your resolve to stay in a church that is not always welcoming. I encourage you to find a community within the church, as I have done; a community where you feel welcomed and loved.
Love you all as God loves you!
Mary Beckfeld is a founding member of the Catholic Rainbow Parents and of the editorial team of The Progressive Catholic Voice.