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#1 of 13 Old 07-29-2010, 09:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Some of you may know my story from my past posts, but those of you who don't, long story short, I was married, got separated, got a boyfriend, he turned out abusive, dumped him, found out I was pregnant, and basically do not have the money to buy food for myself and the child I already have. I'm not Catholic, but I have gone to the local Catholic Church on and off for the last couple of years, because I enjoy the sermon and I'm more comfortable in that church than the other Christian but not Catholic churches in the area.

I emailed the Priest in this church, telling him the situation, and asked him what can I do, where can I go for help with my situation, however, I did not mention that I was still legally married to someone who's not the baby's Father, because I didn't know how that would go over. He emailed me back, gave me a number to call him so I can make an appointment to come talk to him.

When I get there, what am I supposed to wear?

How am I supposed to greet him? I'm supposed to call him "Father", right? Handshakes, what?

What is expected of me?

Will he not help me unless I convert to Catholic?

Will he refuse to help me or tell me what a horrible sin I've done, being still legally married to somebody else?

Or tell me how my baby is "born in sin" and I need to pray for it's soul, insist that I raise my baby Catholic?

I don't have anything against Catholicism- I'm comfortable with most their teachings, but my stepdaughter was being raised Catholic and we spend ALOT of money on mandatory classes so she could take her First Communion, etc. I will never have that kind of money.

What should I expect and how and I expected to act when I get there? From what I've seen, this man is a genuinely sweet guy, so of course I want to act respectfully because he's a Priest, but he's also hopefully gonna help me with my situation and I respect him as a regular person, as well. Advice, please?

I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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#2 of 13 Old 07-29-2010, 11:22 AM
 
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When I get there, what am I supposed to wear? I wouldn't fret this one at all. Jeans and a t-shirt, or whatever you normally wear. There's no dress code for meeting with a parish priest. I would make sure I wasn't wearing anything super immodest or offensive, but that's about it.

How am I supposed to greet him? I'm supposed to call him "Father", right? Handshakes, what? Priests are typically addressed as Father First Name. If you don't feel comfortable calling him Father, then don't.

What is expected of me? The same things that are expected of everyone else who receives help from any other source-that you are taking care of what you can, and asking for help for what you can't.

Will he not help me unless I convert to Catholic? Not necessarily. Each Parish sets their own standards for their social concerns budget. Also many parishes join interfaith care giving groups that help no matter what faith you are.

Will he refuse to help me or tell me what a horrible sin I've done, being still legally married to somebody else? He may council you on this issue, but if he uses this language he is not a very good priest.

Or tell me how my baby is "born in sin" and I need to pray for it's soul, insist that I raise my baby Catholic? No, see above.


And as far as paying for classes, etc, that's bull. No parish can deny sacraments based on a parishioners ability to pay for the education leading up to the sacrament.

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#3 of 13 Old 07-29-2010, 11:40 AM
 
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Aww, hon. Please don't be worried about most of these things.

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Originally Posted by kblackstone444 View Post
When I get there, what am I supposed to wear?
Whatever you want. I'd avoid low cut tops and short skirts but anything else is fine.

Quote:
How am I supposed to greet him? I'm supposed to call him "Father", right? Handshakes, what?
A handshake is great. If you don't know his preference, I'd call him Father LastName or just Father... or nothing at all, if you're not comfortable with that.

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What is expected of me?
Exactly what KempsMama said.

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Will he not help me unless I convert to Catholic?
I can't imagine this being the case. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul does wonderful work for those needing help and religious background does not matter.

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Will he refuse to help me or tell me what a horrible sin I've done, being still legally married to somebody else?
Trust me, Father has seen it all and knows that railing against past sins does nothing to heal the soul. He's not going to tell you that "You have to do what makes you happy" but he will be understanding of human frailties. He goes to confession, too.

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Or tell me how my baby is "born in sin" and I need to pray for it's soul, insist that I raise my baby Catholic?
Your baby was born in wedlock but even if he wasn't, the priest will recognize the child as having inherent value, being made in the image and likeness of God. He may suggest baptism for the baby but if you are not ready for that, he will still help you with your financial needs, if at all possible.

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...my stepdaughter was being raised Catholic and we spend ALOT of money on mandatory classes so she could take her First Communion, etc.
Whoa! I've never heard of that and I teach First Communion classes. Well, I guess there is a fee for religious education classes at the beginning of the year but no one is turned away if money is a concern. You'd be surprised how often that happens and it's perfectly okay.

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What should I expect and how and I expected to act when I get there? From what I've seen, this man is a genuinely sweet guy, so of course I want to act respectfully because he's a Priest, but he's also hopefully gonna help me with my situation and I respect him as a regular person, as well. Advice, please?
God love ya, sweetheart. I wish I could take your nerves away. I hope and pray that this meeting with the priest will be an occasion of great consolation and encouragement for you. This can be an opportunity to heal your bodily and spiritual needs.

If you're so inclined, I'd love to hear how your meeting goes. You'll be in my thoughts and prayers.

Catholic homeschooling mom of two daughters and four sons... baby Mark born on 8/27/10. Kidney Disease Awareness
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#4 of 13 Old 07-29-2010, 12:22 PM
 
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I remember being nervous the first time I met with a priest. Just wear something reasonably modest. No tube tops or micro minis. Personally I prefer to dress modestly, especially at Church or meeting clergy and make sure my shoulders are covered and my knees and nothing skin tight ( not that I wear skin tight anyway)

He will probably shake your hand, I've yet to meet a priest that doesn't. It's unlikely he is going to give you the major sin talk regarding your marriage and baby. The priests I've met are very understanding of the nature of the world we live in and while he won't approve he will be focusing on the reason for your meeting, which is your current situation that you need assistance with. The priests I know do not pressure people to become Catholic, they want people to convert for personal faith and conviction reasons not just to get assistance.

Good luck!
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#5 of 13 Old 07-29-2010, 02:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by KempsMama View Post
And as far as paying for classes, etc, that's bull. No parish can deny sacraments based on a parishioners ability to pay for the education leading up to the sacrament.
I was not aware of that. Here, we're told to pay between $200 and $300 at the beginning of each year, depending on where you go, and there's several years of education you need before you're considered Catholic. This is good to know- I'm not sure I want convert, but I'm not completely comfortable in "my own" church setting, either. I really miss taking Communion.

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Originally Posted by VillageMom6 View Post
God love ya, sweetheart. I wish I could take your nerves away. I hope and pray that this meeting with the priest will be an occasion of great consolation and encouragement for you. This can be an opportunity to heal your bodily and spiritual needs.

If you're so inclined, I'd love to hear how your meeting goes. You'll be in my thoughts and prayers.
I'm hoping my phone will be charged enough to call him by the time I get out of work, and I'm thinking he probably won't make me wait more than a couple days for a meeting. I'll update the outcome after the meeting.

I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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#6 of 13 Old 07-29-2010, 03:18 PM
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I would just be honest and be you. He probably wants to talk so that he can understand your situation to better know how to meet your needs. It sounds like you've got a lot of baggage, and he might be able to help you in a number of ways like providing you with financial assistance, being a listening ear, perhaps some counseling (or a referral), reconciling yourself to God if you desire, helping you get on a better path (spiritual direction), and connecting you to social services designed for people in situations like yours.

While the Catholic Church is very clear about what is sinful, it is also very merciful. You already know that your actions didn't work out for you very well, and any good priest will be seeking to help you from here on out to find healing.

I can't imaging him making any demands that you or your child become Catholic (though I'm sure he wouldn't mind if you want to). That is an issue that you need to work out for yourself, and it would be wrong for him to pressure you into anything.

If you did want to become Catholic or to raise your children Catholic, there are always scholarships for people who cannot afford classes, retreats, etc.
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#7 of 13 Old 07-29-2010, 07:15 PM
 
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I'm not Catholic, but my Mom used to teach at a Catholic University... and I have to say... I don't think the Priests are shocked by much. All of the ones I met were very accepting of people wherever they were... however they dressed, etc. I really wouldn't worry.

I know that Catholic Charities help people of all faith--so don't worry.

I really don't think that whether or not you want to convert to Catholicism will affect how he treats you--or the help he offers. (I think it's nice to mention that you've been attending mass...but I don't think it's a prerequisite for help, if you KWIM.) Just among the Priests I've known... it doesn't seem to be an issue. If you've made the effort to go and ask for help, then I'm pretty positive that he'll do everything he can to help you.

Mom to DS(8), DS(6), DD(4), and DS(1).  "Kids do as well as they can."

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#8 of 13 Old 08-02-2010, 05:52 PM
 
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Just hoping that it went well mama! you need a break and a chance to get yourself together!

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#9 of 13 Old 08-02-2010, 07:48 PM
 
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General disclaimer...I am not Cathoilic. I am Orthodox. But meeting an orthodox priest is similar to meeting a Catholic priest

Quote:
Originally Posted by kblackstone444 View Post
When I get there, what am I supposed to wear?
When I go to confession or to meet with my priest I am usually wearing jeans and a t shirt. I usually go on my day off right in the middle of everything. I am usually a wreck

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Originally Posted by kblackstone444 View Post
How am I supposed to greet him? I'm supposed to call him "Father", right? Handshakes, what?
I would start with "Hello Father. I am kblackstone nice to meet you" You are not Catholic. You will not be expected to know everything. Just be polite and use your regular manners. . Honestly when I met the Bishop I just stuck out my hand and said "Hi". I know that was not right but had no idea what I was supposed to do So I did my best. He did not scold me for getting it wrong or stand there refusing to accept my greeting because it wasn't good enough. He shook my hand and said "Hi" right back.

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Originally Posted by kblackstone444 View Post
What is expected of me?
Nothing necessarily. Be honest. Answer questions. Priests are really good at knowing what to do

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Originally Posted by kblackstone444 View Post
Will he not help me unless I convert to Catholic?
you said you have been going off and on to this parish. This is your parish. he is your priest. I was a member of my parish family long before I converted. And when I needed them they were there for me. The thing is I used to work for a church and they would get 2 to 3 calls an hour sometimes of people who just wanted help. They were not interested in God or the church they were just looking for a handout. We would generally refer them to Department of Social Services. I think this gets a little old after a while. But like I said. This is your parish. This is your priest. Even if you are not Catholic.

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Originally Posted by kblackstone444 View Post
Will he refuse to help me or tell me what a horrible sin I've done, being still legally married to somebody else?
he may want to talk about this but I am sure he will be gentle. You sound like you recognize what a mess this is. It has been my experience that so long as I am honest and humble and aware of my sin it is dealt with very gently and with so much mercy. My Priest is generally more concerned about all the ways in which I am hurting myself and how to make things better than he is in being judgmental. I have never ever felt condemnation regardless of how much I have managed to screw stuff up. I doubt his willingness to help you will hinge on this but he may think it is in your best interest spiritually to deal with this.

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Or tell me how my baby is "born in sin" and I need to pray for it's soul, insist that I raise my baby Catholic?
He may encourage you to join the church if you find you like it there. And all our babies are born in sin and all their souls need to be prayed for. Yours is not any worse off than mine or anyone else's.

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I don't have anything against Catholicism- I'm comfortable with most their teachings, but my stepdaughter was being raised Catholic and we spend A LOT of money on mandatory classes so she could take her First Communion, etc. I will never have that kind of money.
Perhaps this is something you would like to discuss with him. I am sure there are ways around this if you wish to join the church. Money should not be the only thing stopping you. And there is no way you will be the first or last person unable to pay for the classes (the materials and stuff for classes are not free and so few people give to the church on a regular basis. The only way to cover these costs is to ask people to cover them themselves. Its not about heaping money into the bank account. Some churches also pay their teachers. I used to get a small stipend for doing nursery at church. it wasn't a lot but it helped us a ton. and encouraged regular people in the nursery. It was a way for the church to help me out without making it look like charity.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by kblackstone444 View Post
What should I expect and how and I expected to act when I get there? From what I've seen, this man is a genuinely sweet guy, so of course I want to act respectfully because he's a Priest, but he's also hopefully gonna help me with my situation and I respect him as a regular person, as well. Advice, please?
be yourself and be honest. Don't be disappointed if he cannot help you directly. Churches often do not have a lot of ways in which to offer help. There is not a lot our parish could do to help someone in your situation. Father could offer you a cup of coffee but that is about it. he could offer to help you start the process of conversion so you could receive the sacraments. However what he will be able to most likely do is direct you to the places that can help you. So bring a pen and a notebook. He may also be able to give you a referral to some places that require that. Here you have to get a referral to the food bank. Some churches hand them out some put requirements on them.

What kind of help are you looking for from him? How do you expect him to be able to help?

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#10 of 13 Old 08-03-2010, 01:16 AM
 
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I'd just add that people usually go into the priesthood because they want to help people. Assume good will on his part. He's seen a lot of people in need and so you won't be the first (or last) he's seen.

You also don't have to tell him everything, if you don't want to. Only share as much as you're comfortable. You don't have to convert. I was raised Catholic, and most Catholics I know are very non-evangelical.

You haven't committed some horrible sin. And the wonderful thing about Christianity is that the focus is on redemption -- no matter how flawed we are, we are worthy of forgiveness.

And I agree completely with the 'fees' for education being completely out of line. If you want to convert to Catholicism, they will find a way to make that possible. Honestly I've never heard of $200 'fees' for religious education. Even if you don't want to convert, you can keep going.

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#11 of 13 Old 08-03-2010, 03:58 PM
 
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Some of you may know my story from my past posts,
Oh! I'm so glad to see this thread. I've been wondering how reaching out to your local supports has been going for you.

How do you feel your meeting with the priest went? Did he have suggestions of resources you can connect with in your area?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lilyka
be yourself and be honest. Don't be disappointed if he cannot help you directly. Churches often do not have a lot of ways in which to offer help. There is not a lot our parish could do to help someone in your situation. Father could offer you a cup of coffee but that is about it. he could offer to help you start the process of conversion so you could receive the sacraments. However what he will be able to most likely do is direct you to the places that can help you. So bring a pen and a notebook. He may also be able to give you a referral to some places that require that. Here you have to get a referral to the food bank. Some churches hand them out some put requirements on them.

What kind of help are you looking for from him? How do you expect him to be able to help?
This is the case in our area, as well. Times are hard and so many are struggling.


----------------
(On-Topic but Off-Topic: If anyone in this thread has more ideas of places to go for assistance, OP's thread in F&F is here. I mention it because other members have been finding it helpful too, and maybe you'll have an idea for local help/support for OP or someone else that no one else has. Thanks much! It's appreciated. )

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#12 of 13 Old 08-05-2010, 07:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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How do you feel your meeting with the priest went? Did he have suggestions of resources you can connect with in your area?
I haven't had the meeting yet. His secretary (or whoever it was taking his phone calls, says he's on a business trip and will be back Saturday and will call me to set up a meeting this weekend or sometime early next week. Waiting...

I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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#13 of 13 Old 08-07-2010, 12:05 PM
 
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be yourself and be honest. Don't be disappointed if he cannot help you directly. Churches often do not have a lot of ways in which to offer help.
This. If he's not able to give you financial help, don't take it personally. I am Catholic and couldn't find any help (at Catholic parishes or Protestant). My SIL's parish (in another state!) did give us a modest amount of help (which of course we were grateful for). Good luck!
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