“My wife and I are atheists, but our daughter wants to be baptised Catholic”

Filed in Family by on January 16, 2014 1 Comment

picture by Elsa, photo by SWang CCommons

More and more marriages these days are between people of different faiths. One of the big discussion points with such couples is how they will raise their children regarding questions of belief. Many say that they will leave it to their children to decide when they are older.

James Harrington had a different but related experience. He found that his daughter – after attending Catholic school in the south of France – decided she wanted to be baptised. He reflects here on how this decision has caused him and his wife to reflect on their faith (or lack of it) and their parenting:

Our little girl, however, has made a life-defining decision by herself. I couldn’t be more proud of her. But I cannot deny that what she said to my wife and I stopped us briefly in our slightly smug, religiously disinterested, bleeding-heart liberal tracks.

What courage had it taken for her to tell us what she wanted? It was clear that our brave, sweet daughter had thought about her faith long and hard.

Looking back, we realised we had regularly discussed our differing beliefs. Our daughter brought us Genesis. We gave her the Michael Bay-friendly Big Bang. She brought us the Nativity and peace and goodwill at Christmas. We gave her family, friends and good food. She brought us the crucifixion. We gave her the Easter Bunny. She brought us heaven, god and an afterlife. We gave her 21st-century life and a brief future as worm fodder.

After all that – and in spite of our gentle antipathy to god and creation – she still had the courage of her convictions to say to both of us, to our faces and again in front of the priest, that our world view isn’t enough for her. She believes. She wants to be baptised and she wants to be Catholic.

For me, it means regular trips to the presbytery for extra “Catholic lessons”. It means going to church for family mass on Sundays and not knowing when to sit or stand; and hoping that the priest doesn’t come at me with the microphone when he delivers his Jerry Springer-style sermon (he probably won’t).

It means a little extra effort on my part and no small amount of frustration for my wife, who tries – and often fails – to understand the attraction of all this. But it means everything to my daughter. She’s taken a first step down a road that, ultimately, she’ll have to travel on her own. I’ll go with her as far as I can, but she knows, even now, that this is her journey. She’s heading where I cannot follow.

I just hope that, the next time she faces a life-defining decision, she remembers this time when she told us she had faith in something we don’t. And we believed in her.

You can read the full article here.



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Fr Jerome Santamaria

About the Author ()

Fr Jerome Santamaria is a priest of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, Australia.

Comments (1)

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  1. I am very pleased for the young lady. Who could not be?

    Perhaps, with time, Mr and Mrs Harrington will find that their own spiritual journey will start to take a different path. After all, they have had to exercise the openness of heart and mind to their daughter about her own decision. Maybe her experiences will influence their own thoughts and bring them both to the Faith.

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