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CATHOLIC ROOTS, VARIED FRUITS: ONE FAMILY, THREE GENERATIONS

The author is a retired Catholic priest.


Devout Catholic Beginnings
When Fred LaBrecque and Alice Douglas ended their almost-decade-long courtship
by marrying each other in April, 1940, it was at a Nuptial Mass in the brides church
of St. Lawrence in New Bedford, Massachusetts. They had much in common
children of blue collar families raised in the hard times of the great depression,
children of devoutly Catholic parents, educated by religious sisters in Catholic grade
and high schools, intelligent, highly-achieving young adults with dreams and hopes
for a better life for themselves and their children.
They also differed in important ways. Although Alices father was a Scottish
immigrant, she was largely raised in the Irish Catholic world of her mother. High
school valedictorian, she dreamed of becoming a journalist and graduating from the
Columbia University School of Journalism. Economic realities intervened, so after
high school she entered the work force and that dream remained unfulfilled.
Fred was born into the world of French Canadian immigrants. Nonetheless he
attended Irish Catholic grade and high schools where his parents thought hed
have a better chance of becoming a real American. Still, his father expected him
to get a good factory job after high school like his older brother. He was dismayed
and totally opposed when Fred expressed the wish to go to college and maybe even
be a doctor. If he tried to do so, hed be on his own. Accepted as an undergraduate
at Boston College, he daily made the 90+-minute commute from Taunton,
Massachusetts to Boston by train and trolley. He paid his way by delivering
newspapers and eventually managing a network of paper boys, playing piano in a
combo at clubs and weddings, and with a little help from a sympathetic maternal
aunt. This grueling routine continued through eight years, first at BC and then at
Tufts University Medical School.
Meanwhile, Alice was offered a better paying job at the Boston office of the
Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. And so it happened that the two young
people became regular commuters on the same Boston-bound train. A mutual
friend introduced them and a romance began, culminating in the big April, 1940 day
one year after Fred began his practice as the first obstetrician in Waterbury,
Connecticut.
A Large Catholic Family
Ten months later, after a troubled pregnancy, their first child, a boy, was born (the
author). Over the next 13 years, he was followed by eight more, forming a family
of five boys and four girls.
Waterbury was an industrial city of just over 100,000 inhabitants. The population
was around 70% Catholic, immigrants and their children, mostly from Italy, Ireland,
Lithuania, etc. The LaBrecques fit right in, although the fact that Dad was a highlybeli

respected doctor differentiated the family from most of their fellow-Catholics, whose
breadwinners worked in one of the big factories of the era. This was particularly
true as each of the nine children in turn entered the neighborhood parochial school.
This continued for all of them through graduation from local Catholic high schools.
In this respect, Fred and Alice differed from most of their social peers in the medical
and professional establishment who, including Catholics, generally sent their
children to private prep schools.
The LaBrecque home was frequented by parish clergy throughout the years,
pastorally and socially. Sunday Mass was a de rigueur family affair, and all the boys
were altar servers. Social life revolved around parish and school activities. Catholic
life and practice seemed as natural to all as eating and sleeping.
Catholic Higher Education
I entered the seminary after high school and went on to be ordained a priest. Of the
other eight children, all but one attended Catholic colleges. However, those who
went to graduate school did not. Besides a priest, the siblings careers have
included physician, independent businessman, physical therapist, teacher, health
care administrator, biologist, nurse and school psychologist.
All eight married in Catholic ceremonies before their priest-brother. Five spouses
were Catholic, three Protestant, one of whom joined the Catholic Church soon
afterwards. The other two accompanied their spouse and children to Mass and
participated in other Church-connected activities. Among them twenty-seven
children were brought into the world between 1969 and 1993. They are the subject
of this study.
The Third Generation
Twenty-four responded to a questionnaire I sent to all. I wanted to see how religious
belief and practice have evolved among the members of that third generation of the
family founded in a devout Catholic ambience by Fred and Alice LaBrecque. From
this information, I hoped to discern trends, significant factors affecting continued
Catholic practice or not, and perhaps draw some conclusions that can be of use to
U.S. church leadership and ministers serving families and young people today.
All my siblings had their children baptized and raised them as Catholics, receiving
all the initiation sacraments along the way. Sixteen attended Catholic elementary
and/or secondary schools, and eight got their undergraduate degrees at Catholic
colleges; four of these had not had previous Catholic education. Several went on for
advanced degrees at secular universities. Of course, American society had changed
a great deal from the worlds of their parents and grandparents childhood and
adolescence, and only a couple were living in communities still largely Catholic.
Their classmates, friends and neighbors were liable to be much more diverse. It can
also be seen that they were by and large highly educated. I should also note that
two siblings had divorced their spouses before all their children reached adulthood.
In 2016, the 27 members of this third generation range in age from early forties to
mid-twenties. Only 16 are married, and all but one of them have children, ranging
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from infants to high-schoolers. Eight married Catholic spouses in Catholic


ceremonies; the others married non-Catholics in Catholic or other religious or
secular ceremonies. There has been only one divorce and remarriage. Their
children number 37.
Current Religious Status
Twenty continue to identify themselves as Catholic. There are no Protestants nor
has anyone joined a non-Christian religion. Four have no current religious affiliation.
Three say the no longer believe in God, though one of them continues to identify
himself as a Catholic.
Not so long ago, to say one was a Catholic implied regular Mass attendance on
Sundays and Holy Days, acceptance of church doctrinal and moral teaching, and
obeying the precepts of the church such as the regulations for marriage, birth
control, etc. The responses to this survey illustrate how that has changed. Only
one attends Mass weekly, while three others do so almost weekly and five
monthly. Fully half, 12, say seldom. The final three say never, though these are
not necessarily the three who do not believe in God. Sixteen responded
affirmatively to baptizing their children, six negatively; at least some of these are
probably from the group of 11 who are unmarried, without children. Two (without
children) gave no answer.
Here are some comments illustrating the varying attitudes towards the church, its
teaching and practice, by these Catholic-rooted young adults who continue to
identify themselves as Catholic.
Question: please describe the most important factors that led to your
current affiliation.
Responses from those attending Church weekly (1), almost weekly (3) , or
about once a month (5)
One did not answer this question. Their Catholic upbringing was the number one
reason mentioned by eight. Three stressed the wonderful community of our
current Catholic church, while three others mentioned feeling comfortable in my
Catholic Church, my spiritual home. Children figured prominently among the
positive factors listed by five. Representative comments are: We want our kids to
know that if they ever feel like they are lost, with their church and God is always a
place where they will belong, [I] truly feel comforted by sharing [the Catholic
beliefs I was raised with] with my kids, and the community of the Catholic school.
Other factors mentioned:
making friends that are strong women of Catholic faith in my mid-twenties
we love the time [the church community] brings our family together to just
be with each other and be thankful for all of our blessings
we love the way it teaches you to treat others with respect and kindness and
the sense of safety it gives you
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the continuity, global nature, and teachings of the church


the basic Christian values of humbleness, generosity to others, and loving
thy neighbor that it teaches
a sense of community and responsibility,honoring our commitments that
we have made to the church and our families
[I] truly feel comforted by sharing these beliefs with my kids.
Along with various of the above positive factors, one did mention that this active
affiliation and love of the church is nevertheless accompanied by the reality that
we may not agree with everything the Catholic Church says.
Responses from those attending church seldom (12)
There were interesting twists to some of these responses. For instance, one who
had been among the three out of 24 who had answered No to a previous question
concerning belief in God, nonetheless answered Catholic as current religious
affiliation and Seldom for Mass attendance. (The other two answered none and
never.) Three of the other seldom attendees said they have no current religious
affiliation.
Two did not answer this question. Once again, Catholic family upbringing was the
most common denominator, mentioned prominently by six of the nine respondents.
One added: saw [my parents] sincerity and belief, but I also knew that it was
alright and even important to question my beliefs so I could grow in my
understanding.
Problems with the church teaching, structure, etc., figure prominently in six
respondents responses, for instance:
conflicts with my social/political views as compared to the views of the
church
difficulty with the overall structure of organized religions in general. While I
appreciate and respect much of what the Church does, I often have philosophical
difficulties with accepting the entire historical and corporate weight of the
worldwide organization. I feel somewhat hypocritical accepting only piecemeal the
positions of the Church and also professing to be a true Catholic or even Christian
Im not currently attending church because I havent found a church with a
priest who understands the way our society works at this moment
Key points from one very long, thoughtful response: I have tremendous
respect for my familys faith, both my immediate family and my more extended
familyI was very serious about my own Catholicism from a young age through my
college years. [Being very active and involved as a believer, I] tried diligently to
conduct myself as a good Catholic boy. I continued to attend weekly Mass and was
trained as a Eucharistic Minister. Until the age of 22 or so, I would have described
myself as a devout Catholic. [Then] my group of friends expanded to include people
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with viewpoints that challenged my ownpeople from varied religious inclinations


I realized that I had never questioned my faith myself. [Then] The Globe broke the
story of the rampant sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests and the institutional
cover up that followed. I recognize [the positive impact] of the Church and its
followers [who] have also done terrible things big and small. The respondent goes
on to list some ways in which his values diverge from those of the church: horrible
treatment of women as second-class citizens as best; appalling treatment of LGBT
people; dangerous stance on contraception, etc. Some doctrinal matters that are
also hard to believe, e.g.: transubstantiation, the virgin birth, and exaggerated
insistence on Marys virginity which sends a troubling message to young women.
While no longer believing in God and the Church, this respondent continues to love
and respect those who sincerely do.
Although I no longer believe in God, I go to church for sharing special family
occasions and the only identity I can articulate is still Catholic. I find no evidence
that God exists, and I have personally experienced disillusionment when important
prayers were not answered.
I have formed my own version of my faith and relationship with God. Im
not sure how well it does or doesnt fit in with Catholic belief/teachings, but I still
believe in [many of] the teachings of the Catholic Church, but this more out of
taking comfort in what is familiar to me and organized, structured religion than out
of active analysis and choice to continue to believe in them.I appreciate many
things about the Episcopal Church that the Catholic Church doesnt have.I have
seriously considered changing my affiliation to Episcopalian, but I rarely attend
Mass anyway, and I value my Catholic heritage, so I have not yet. I am also slightly
encouraged by the direction Pope Francis is taking the church (while being petrified
that he is too radical and his life will be cut short). I also dont want to be one to get
married in the church and then turn around and leave it. At the same time, I
havent been back to the parish where I was married because of the way the
financial aspect of my wedding was handled by the parish and priest.
Responses from those saying they never attend church (3)
From the one who still self-identifies as Catholic: no time to attend church
and mainly because it bores me.
From one with no religious affiliation who believes in God: recognition of a
common humanity, combined with a church I viewed as stagnant and unwilling to
follow Jesus calls for love and inclusion regardless of ones position in life. Going to
a Catholic college, somewhat ironically, allowed me to gain a closer relationship
with how I see God,to see God in little thingsexposed me to different spiritual
points of view, which drove me away from a church I saw as increasingly divisive
(though HH Pope Francis is clearly doing good work). I also was able to take many
theology classes and expose myself to many different views of Christianity, God and
Christ, which helped me shape my own interpretations of his message.
From the one who does not believe in God: I saw contradictions/hypocrisy in
the teachings and the way the church and other religions actually followed those
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teachings. As I grew and learned more about the world around me, I found that I
would much rather believe in myself and other people than in any god.
Question: Describe the effect Catholic schooling had on your religious
affiliation and practice
Three respondents skipped the questions concerning Catholic schooling. Fifteen of
the 21 others did attend Catholic grade and/or high school and/or college. Only
some went on to respond to the above question. The comments seem evenly
divided between positive, neutral, and negative effects.
The responses of two are integrated with their responses to the previous
question (see above).
From two monthly Mass-goers: [Catholic high school] gave me the skills I
needed to succeed in life and [Catholic grade, high school and college education]
basically reinforced the affiliation and integrated into my belief system.
Having Catholicism as part of my day-to-day, and being surrounded by other
Catholic friends and families during my formative years definitely impacted the way
I view things today, both good and bad. I have also found this has enriched my
travels to places like Rome and the Vatican. However, there are also the negative
aspects of getting things drilled into you at school rather than learning and
believing them for yourself, which can have a negative impact and drive cynicism.
What I have noticed at this age, given the number of friends and family I have from
my Catholic High School and College years, is that in the end, it is each persons
individual beliefs that shine through eventually. Sometimes the Catholic education
enhances the process, and in some cases it taints it. We are not sending our
children to Catholic school right now, but for us it is less of a religious decision than
it is financial, exposure to diversity and quality-of-education decision --- as well as
wanting our kids to be at school with the other kids in our neighborhood.
And one more: My college experience just continued by affiliation though I
do not think it had a strong lasting effect on my religious practices.
From a seldom Mass-goer: The Catholic schooling reminded me what is
important, but most of all how to treat and respect people.
From an almost every week Mass-goer: It allowed me to be open with my
religion and always be able to celebrate it never feel like I had to hide it. It
surrounded me with people who generally believed in the same major things and
people whom I could easily talk and discuss things with. Although there were a few
people who I think used their beliefs as a form of power, that wasnt the majority
and again, I had people with whom I could easily discuss that with.
And another: I dont know that it did. I felt that teachers in Catholics
schools were more in tune to their pupils and truly wanted them to learn. Whereas
in public school (I attended both in grade and high school) the teachers were less
invested in the children and their success.

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From a weekly Mass-goer: I have been more reflective about this as we


begin to look at colleges for our children. There is a culture that is the Catholic faith
that is something very comforting and special to be a part of. It crosses class,
states, countries, etc. and is a wonderful common bond to share with others. I am
still feeling the impact of the Catholic friends I made in college of their values and
the shared experiences we have in our faith. The constant opportunity to learn
about our faith, celebrate Mass together, pray together and for each other, just
having a statue of Mary or a cross on the wall makes a difference in the day of a
teen-ager. I didnt always participate or appreciate it at the time but I did often
and that security was always there. It is a comfort level and a privilege to be able
to have our kids attend Catholic school.
From one who no longer believes in God: I had good experience in grade
school and was all in for most of the time there. During my last two years was
when I started to question what I was seeing and hearing.
The other four respondents basically said that their Catholic education at various
levels had minimal effect on their current religious affiliation.
Question: What would you like to say to Catholic leadership about
religious affiliation and practice?
Through the answers of the 15 respondents to this question one can see some very
common threads.
Catholicism needs to be more understanding of all people and differences.
In particular, females should be treated more equally.
Keep following the leadership of Pope Francis. The leadership of the church
should be the most welcoming and continue to remove political barriers for nonaffiliates to get more comfortable with the church.
To practice the love and acceptance and giving that they preach. I find the
majority of religions that I am familiar with are elitist and treat people who do not
think like they do to be lesser people
Emphasize the message of Jesus, which is to say, one of love and inclusion.
Recognize the differences between the old and new testaments in terms of
theological message. Has the new law replaced the old? Adjust accordingly.
Likewise, recognize the old and new testaments are documents of the times in
which they were written, and contextualize your message to meet it. People want
to understand and belong to the church let them.
I think the continued direction of being inclusive that God loves everyone
is wonderful. I think the nitpicky rules in the Catholic Church can be too much.
Having our own doctrine and culture is necessary but to be tolerant of others and to
be particularly welcoming to other Christians feels like the right thing to do! I
particularly feel this with my kids non-Catholic friends in high school; its important
to meet them where they are and to encourage them to pray and know God loves
them and is always there for them!
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Id like to see religious education focusing on taking the parables, life,


teaching and historical context of Jesus and applying the lessons to contemporary
issues.
I would like for Catholic leadership to understand that times have changed
and therefore some of the Catholic beliefs should be adjusted. Im not asking that
everything be thrown out for a new religion to begin, but have Catholicism be
something that seems achievable to people, not an ideal that can never be
attained. I know well never be perfect and thats what were aiming for but I do
think that it could be more realistic.
The Catholic leadership needs to be more open to the current times and
adapt. A high percentage of marriages end up in divorce. There are many
gay/lesbian Catholics in the country and all should be welcome.
While the Popes visit was invigorating and he appeared to be more open on
issues like divorce and homosexuality (just some positions where my beliefs dont
align with the church), we are struggling right now with a priest who doesnt
understand how active families are with many commitments. He isnt flexible nor
does he take feedback from his lay advisorsHe is truly making me question if I
should belong to this church. Honestly we will stick it out to get all our children
confirmed but after that if he is still there I am not sure if we will switch parishes or
start checking out the Christian Church down the street that has a huge active
youth and family ministry.
I looked hard for a church that would be a good fit for our family. I prefer
churches that dont encourage families to segregate themselves in cry rooms, have
active outreach and community ministries and have a thoughtful approach to faith
formation for children who are not in Catholic schools. We did shop quite a bit until
we found a church with a supportive environmentOur church is thoughtful in its
scheduling of faith formation classes (not during church!), does provide a childrens
Liturgy of the Word, offer adult faith formation/bible classes during childrens faith
formation times, and is really proactive in offering opportunities for children and
families to get involved (special choirs at Christmas, service opportunities, a library
for families to use, etc.)
We attend Mass and our children attend religious education so they can
share in our beliefs. I want my children to have faith and believe in God and his
works.
Each parish is so different that it is difficult to make generalitiesthe
Catholic Church doesnt market the fact about itself very well. There are many
other Christian Churches out there these days that are much easier to be a part of,
and that is attractive to many younger people who are intimidated by the traditions
and rules of Catholics.
To continue the outreach at a local level and not just assume people will
come because its a big nice old church downtown.
To bring the youth back.
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Church needs to update the language so todays youth can understand it.
There are many positive things about the tenets of the Catholic Church. It
has a good foundation on which to work to regain ground it has lost in the last 30-50
yearsThink about who people are in this day and age, gear homilies, in-Mass
atmosphere, outreach and parish activities to appeal to them. It often feels like the
same homilies and stuffy, rigid atmosphere [as] 60 years ago, when it more closely
matched what society was like in general at the time. It makes me think of a house
being offered for sale. Dated floors, furniture, cabinets, wallpaper or tiles are
repellant to people looking to buy a home for their family. However, the same
house with structure unchanged but freshened-up paint,/rugs/cabinets could be
very appealing to the same buyers. It is a very secular way of thinking about
religion, but it is the reality the church is facing.
I not only respect others rights to believe what they believe and worship
how they worship, but I seek out and revel in this type of diversitymy
understanding growing up in the church was that Catholicism presented the only
route to heavenI do appreciate that some individual priests and parishes are given
the opportunity to act more progressively and inclusively and I wish that this were
more the normThough I am not a religious person any more, I am impressed by
those who are religious (regardless of their faith) and, especially, by those who have
devoted their lives to their faith, like yourself
I feel that many people dont go to confession because theyre afraid of how
their priest will speak to them. I havent gone in years and Ive had my good and
bad experiences of it. At the church I grew up in the current priest I feel would talk
down to me because I dont remember the whole process of confession. What I
would really like to see is people not afraid to go to church, confession, be involved
in other activities at church because of their priest.
Question: What would you like to say about your experience of the Mass?
If you go now, what is your principal motive? Do you have suggestions for
improving the way Mass is practiced for yourself? For youth? For
children?
Six of the respondents who go to Mass once a month or more often responded to
this question.
The traditions of the Catholic Mass are so entrenched that I dont think it is
my place to make suggestions on how to improve itI think the Mass is much more
enjoyable when there is quality music to go along with it. My experience of Mass
right now is mainly going through the motions, repeating the prayers, and keeping
my kids quiet and I would say our principal motive for going is being a good
Catholic and we should do it.
We go to Mass regularly on Sundays because it is our obligation as Catholics.
I attend weekday Mass occasionally at our church with the grade school kids,
especially when my child plays a special role, almost always for All School Mass at
the high school. Our church is very conservative and Mass is always long. I think it
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varies by parish, but at our church communion takes way too long. There are
always priests who say your favorite homilies. In general I appreciate an uplifting,
motivating sermon rather than one that preaches the evils of society. There is
always a balance. Always invite non-Catholics up for a blessing at communion.
Kids liturgies are a good thing during the readings/homily. Good music helps too!
But some of the best Masses are the simple ones around a table breaking bread
together right, uncle?
Mass is so structured and filled with rituals that are a comfort for me, though
I see many of my friends who were raised Catholic attracted to other churches that
are geared to a younger crowd. I appreciate homilies that are relatable and I wish
the church worked on getting their message of faith to more people. Too much time
spent on switching words in prayers and following all of the rules of the church. I
would say focus less on rules, structure of our religion and it would feel more
welcoming to the regulars and the visitors alike.
We like Mass best when it incorporates music, Catholic social teachings,
thoughtful homilies and generally serves as a loving example of how Gods family
should come together. Inclusion is so important, since that is the nature of
CatholicismBut it is important too for us that the children experience Mass in
different places with different kinds of people so that they can understand that the
church is home, and is universal, and is not tied to one building or one community.
I feel I pay attention more and enjoy Mass more now than I ever have.
Although I dont always agree with the Gospel or homily, it provides time for good
conversation and reflection. We go to Mass as a family to provide for ourselves and
our children time together to enjoy each other and be thankful for our blessings, to
have that be a time our kids know they will have with us and we will have with
them. The two things Ive noticed most about Mass as Ive gotten older, that I wish I
didnt, are I feel the parish in general gets scolded a lot. Were told all that we do
wrong and how to correct it or we wont reach salvation. I wish there was more
positivity. I also wish that it wasnt made so evident that the church is a business.
Again, I know that it takes money for the priests and the church and the diocese to
run and be able to provide all they do for us, but I wish there was some way to go
about it that wasnt so blatant and business like.
The one complaint I have is by going to church you dont become familiar
with the bible. The readings and homily are wonderful but after leaving Mass there
is still a sort of disconnect. And it is very difficult to remember when you go home
and open the bible to the correct passage if you want to reread it for better
understanding.
Among those whose Mass attendance is seldom, seven made comments on this
subject.
I enjoy Mass when I go.
My principal motive for going to Mass is simply because its expected of me.
Truthfully, if left to my own devices, I will only rarely go, not due to a lack of belief
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but out of laziness. As to my experience of the Mass, I usually find that I enjoy it,
particularly the homily. However, I will say that on occasion when I hear a very
conservative priest or deacon speak, it can be disheartening to hear how they view
homosexuality. I understand that the church will never marry two gay people but
that doesnt mean they should be treated any differently. On the other hand you see
people like the Pope who is preaching that we need to be more like Christ and NOT
judge people for living their lives. I just wish there were more people in the church
like him.
I would like to see more music at churchIm not saying we should have a
disco at Mass but more upbeat music. I feel as though people get bored and dont
really listen to the readings, gospel or homily. I think if there was more excitement
and more involvement then there would be better attendance at Mass.
I enjoy Mass when I go in part because of the ritual nature of itand in part
because of the spiritual focus it makes me have for the hour Im there. When I go
(which is rarely), it is largely because of a sense of obligation, but it is not with
reluctance. I only go rarely more because it doesnt feel like the highest priority for
how to use my time; also because my husband will not attend and Sunday is his one
day off of work, so when I am not working, I treasure the time I am able to spend
with him
(From one with no religious affiliation) I dont think the change to a more
literal translation of the Mass was a positive change. It not only made the Mass
more antiquated in the language used to participate, but I felt even more alienated
when attending and forgot to use the new translation. In my opinion, a new
translation should be a step forward, not backwards in time. I mainly attend during
holidays or with my parents.
(From one who does not believe in God) I attend Mass when I am with my
family and am happy to do soI see now how many of the ritualistic portions of the
Mass can seem strange, confusing and even a bit off-putting. That said, even after
leaving the church, Ive experienced the Mass as a joyous celebration of community.
I appreciate the apparent flexibility that celebrants are provided in shaping the Mass
and have enjoyed the many thoughtful sermons Ive heardeven if Ive disagreed.
Anything that could be done to make the Mass less obtuse, confusing, or more
welcoming would be a step in the right directionI dont have kids myself, butI
think that [children] being forced to dress up and sit still and pay attention to
something that they cant possibly understand is a poor strategy for developing the
next generation of Catholic adults. On a similar note, I personally think its wrong to
make children receive sacraments, including Reconciliation, the Eucharist, and even
Confirmation when they are so young that they cannot possibly have the mental
capacity to understand what they are doing. All of that said, I generally enjoy Mass
the couple of times a year that I attend. There is often something intellectually
interesting in the readings, the homily, or in the small changes in the Mass. Im
always with my family when I am attending Mass and I know that they like having
me there, so that makes me feel good as well.

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(And another): Mass needs modernizing, updating, to communicate with


youth and kids.
There were comments from two respondents who said they never go to church.
Mass was never a big deal for me and I felt it was unnecessary. This was
also where I started to see the contradictions and hypocrisy. I have no plans to go
to church unless it is for a particular event that I need to attend for family. Again,
for Mass, to preach and practice love and acceptance of ALL people. We are all
human after all.
Make Mass more interesting and fun. Keep the people involved and make it
personal. People connect more with personal experiences -- when someone can
relate to someone on a personal level instead of trying to relate from a book where
you have to figure out whether it relates to you or your problems.

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