Melbourne, Australia is where I was born and have lived all my life. I’m a cradle Catholic now in my late sixties.
I’ve been divorced going on 20 years but never re-married (or even re-partnered) – initially by choice but later, when I considered it, I realised I hadn’t ever needed to beat men away! Now, I’m too “set in my ways” (“selfish” is another word for it!) to live with someone full-time, permanently.
Getting over my initial upbringing at home, school and church, where it was a case of “it doesn’t matter what you think or feel, just do as you’re told”, is still a work in progress. When I was about thirty, Christian faith became mine, personal, rather than something I had grown up and gone along with. Eight years of part-time study with five young children saw me earn a B Theol. I still describe myself as Catholic but if people want more I say I’m a Vatican II Catholic without a Vatican II Church. Others might describe me as an angry ex-Catholic – they’re probably right too!
I so admire those working for change from within the Church but I couldn’t do it any more – it was detrimental to my faith and my blood pressure. I irregularly worship at a Lutheran church which has a spectacular music programme that raises my heart and spirit to God. I gave up regular attendance at (Catholic) Mass some years ago, firstly as a straight person in protest at the treatment of my LGBTIQ sisters and brothers, then as a way of saying I have lost faith in the Church as manifested in its hierarchy. I saw, and still see, that for me to “go to church” is an expression of support for the structure of a church which wants from me what I don’t possess and doesn’t want what I do have to offer. It’s a boys’ club, they have boys’ rules – and I’m not a boy.
I’ve been a volunteer of one sort or another – outside the Church! – for most of my life, with the aim of helping the world go around, my Christianity in action – although I don’t say that unless anyone asks a very pointed question. I write “letters to the editor” to a small number of publications, Catholic and secular, on matters of church, society, social justice – and sometimes get published. Who knows if anyone is influenced or encouraged by what I say? But it’s my way of trying.
I know my attitude is oh so simplistic and also it’s demonstrably not true on so many levels – just look at the members of Catholic Women Speak for starters. But that’s how it is for me. I read Catholic theology written in the spirit of Vatican II which helps nurture my faith in God. Finding Catholic Women Speak has allowed me to hear women’s voices in a way I’ve never heard them before. It’s also a safe space to voice my own thoughts in a spirit of acceptance. That we can disagree respectfully is a great blessing – different ideas and attitudes expand my mind and heart. And so I struggle on.