I come from an enormous Romanian-Irish family where faith is shared and tradition is maintained. We are loud, we are feisty, but, most of all, we are Catholic. However, I never realized just how “Catholic” I was until I began to work out my own faith outside the comfort of my childhood church.
The majority of my formative years were spent at Saint Pius X Roman Catholic Church in Dallas, Texas. I was as immersed in Catholic culture and faith as a young girl could be; my extended family is entirely comprised of enthusiastic, devoted Catholics, and I am well versed in the traditions and rites of the Saint Pius X parish. The environment of my religious upbringing can be characterized in one word: resonance. I can see it in the high ceilings of the sanctuary, hear it in the echo of the organ, and feel it in the cold, wooden pews. My Catholic faith resonated into my home, where my mother and father encouraged me to read my Bible, pray my prayers and be in tune to the Holy Spirit. But, most of all, I felt my need for Christ resonate deep within me, causing me to cry out for Him. I committed my life to Jesus when I was fourteen, and soon after, I chose to leave the Catholic Church along with everything I knew and was familiar with.
I did not leave Catholicism because I thought it was wrong, or because Catholics are not Christians. I honestly was just in search of a more appealing, youth-friendly church community. My childhood church had done an excellent job of nurturing my faith as a child, but I felt like there was a learning gap between elementary Sunday school and adult spirituality. I needed somewhere to take the next step in my faith, and Saint Pius X was not the right place for me to do so.
When I was sixteen, I began independently attending an Assemblies of God church called Lakeshore and discovered what it looked like to have a daily relationship with Christ. The new environment I found as a teenager was one of charisma and zeal for the Lord. Lakeshore encouraged me to grow as a leader and a musician. I served as a youth and worship intern and made some of my closest friends during my time there. But after a few years, I reached a point of redundancy; my foundation had been strengthened, but I felt like I could not go any deeper. I longed for the richness and depth that I had experienced in the Catholic Church.
Through a series of reflective writing assignments in my Cultural Anthropology class last semester, I analyzed my spiritual upbringing and questioned my Catholic roots. I wrestled with questions of identity, culture and faith. After a lot of prayer and introspection, I determined that the theology from my Catholic roots had proven itself to be true. There is a lot that I have yet to process, but I have mindfully worked out my core beliefs. I am transitioning back into the Catholic Church through the Saint Mary’s Parish here in Siloam Springs.
Today, I am glad to say that, like the rest of my family, I am a loud, feisty Catholic. Working out my faith will be a long, challenging process. But, regardless of what denomination I identify with, I take great joy in saying that I am a Christian seeking after God’s heart.
Devine is a sophomore majoring in Spanish. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.