on faith

I attended Catholic school for four and a half years in elementary school. I've been baptized and I've received my first communion. In 6th grade I started public school, and I also was steadfastly committed to CCD...until my teachers started dropping like flies, and we wound up being instructed by the school's janitor. I asked my parents if I could drop out because I wasn't learning anything from it. I went to church off and on for many years after that, but my relationship with the Roman Catholic church ended when I was 16 years old. I sat in Easter mass and listened as Father O'Brien gave a homily chastising the women of the church for working outside the home and not taking the vocation of motherhood more seriously. I was offended on behalf of my mother and on behalf of my future self. The dissonance I experienced between the teachings of Jesus I learned in religion class as a kid and what was expected of me based on the highly politicized and hypocritical church patriarchy was profoundly difficult for me. I would say that the only thing I learned from that is to question authority, which is probably the last thing they wanted me to learn.

Fortunately, I have an incredible best friend. We've had many conversations about cultural catholicism, and feeling as though there is a certain peace we both found in the ritual and tradition of not only Catholic masses, but the true, honest tenets of the faith. We also discussed our discomfort with the dogma of Roman Catholicism as well as the abuses of power that have damaged the lives of thousands of young people over the past many centuries. And, as women, I think we both disliked the patriarchy.

A few years ago, she uncovered St. Sebastian Independent Catholic Church in Fells Point, Baltimore. And with it, she discovered Father David. This is when a lot of things started making sense for me. The movement has many different names, but in general you'll hear it referred to as the Independent Catholic Church. I haven't wholly committed myself to it, in that I still feel a lot of residual distrust and reticency from my religious upbringing, but when I want the peace of a relatively conventional mass and the understanding/embrace of a faith-based community that is welcoming of people like me (LGBTQ folk) and focused on actually serving their community, I go there. It fulfills me, and time with Father David is profoundly wonderful. Em and I both love him so much that we've asked him to officiate our wedding.

On Saturday, Father David became Bishop Flaherty for the archdiocese of Baltimore for the Independent Catholic Church. The ordination was beautiful and moving. I was asked to take pictures at the last minute, and I've shared a few here.

Religion is such an awkward and polarizing subject. I have strong feelings about people, bloggers even, who make their faith abundantly obvious while writing about their daily goings-on. For some people, it is something that matters on a daily basis. For others, like me, it is just something that's there. I don't feel the need to proselytize or even think about it daily, but in the moments that I do, I feel especially appreciative to be a part of such a welcoming, progressive and unique congregation.

1 comment:

  1. I am glad that you have found a welcoming home. My relationship with Christ impacts me daily and I do hope that you will continue to grow in your relationship with Him.

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All content © Meaghan O'Malley, 2009-2012. Header image by Rebekka Seale.