Family stories and connections are important to people. They keep us grounded and provide a place for our roots to bring life. Family faith traditions are an example of this rootedness.
Marla has a developmental disability and lives in a group home with several other people. She is a charming woman who enjoys meeting new people. For years she weekly attended Catholic mass with her family. The faith traditions she grew up with were an important part of her life. After the passing of her parents Marla found her faith connections even more meaningful. However, because she could no longer spend her weekends with her parents she stopped attending her home parish and began attending mass at a parish closer to her group home. This new parish seemed to be less welcoming of Marla and she began to become less interested in attending mass weekly.
One of the women Marla lived with invited her to attend her protestant church. Marla went and enjoyed the music and friendliness of the people. It was wonderful to see Marla once again eangaging positively with a faith community; however, there was a concern because it was not the faith tradition she was raised in and had enjoyed for most of her life. Marla shared that she did not want to return to the parish where she did not feel welcome and that she enjoyed the friendliness, music and activities of her friend’s church. Those supporting Marla wanted to be sure that she had all of the information and experiences she needed to make the decision about changing her faith affiliation from Roman Catholic to a protestant denomination. Her support staff did some research and located a nearby large parish with young families, activities and a folk mass that was known for it’s friendly and welcoming environment. This potential parish seemed to offer her the qualities she enjoyed in the protestant church and it was in keeping with her family faith traditions. Marla agreed to attend a mass to see if she liked it. It turned out to be a wonderful connection! Marla was warmly welcomed and invited into their faith family. She is now a faithful member of that parish and even found a cousin who is also a member.
Marla enjoys inviting her friends to attend mass with her. She wants to share this community of faith where she is loved.
Gilda Goings, Spiritual Life Coordinator, Heritage Christian Services