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It Takes Practice to Be a Practicing Catholic

Katrina Fernandez - published on 06/07/16

Going to Mass regularly offers benefits in this world and the next -- plus more advice from Katrina

Dear Katrina,

My husband and I are so hurt by our parish. We have our son enrolled in the parish elementary school and we’ve been receiving the discount rate for Catholics, but this year we were told we didn’t qualify for that rate because our parish priest doesn’t think we are Catholic enough. We are livid and have tried speaking to our priest but he’s been very unresponsive. He had his secretary call us to explain that the discount is for practicing Catholics only and since we aren’t regular Mass attendees we no longer are considered Catholic.

This is absurd! My husband and are both Catholic, members of the parish, and our son received his First Communion there last year. My husband wants to take our son out of school there next year unless we can resolve this. Without the discount we can’t afford tuition. I just needed to vent and ask what our next course of action should be. Canon lawyer? Write the bishop?

Plenty Catholic


Dear Not Plenty Catholic Enough,

You know there is a simple solution to end all this drama right now, right?

  1. GO. TO. MASS.

Go to Mass every Sunday. Go to Mass every holy day of obligation. Go to Mass without exception. Go to confession regularly, and go to Mass.

Don’t write the bishop. Go to Mass. Don’t call a canon lawyer. Go to Mass. Don’t pester your priest. Go to Mass. Go to confession and make it right. Then go to Mass.

You want the practicing Catholic discount? Earn it by actively practicing your faith.

Go to Mass. The end.      


Dear Katrina,

I celebrated my 27th birthday by attending my second wedding of the year, and June isn’t even over yet! I am now officially the last of my group of friends to not be married. I don’t even have a serious boyfriend, and at this point in my life my friends think I’m too close to 30 to be so picky. I’ve always told myself that I would only marry another Catholic but now I’m starting to wonder if I haven’t closed myself off to finding love. I know if I opened my dating pool to non-Catholics there would certainly be more to choose from; I am actually giving this serious consideration.   


Susan K.


Dear Desperately Seeking Susan,

So let me get this straight. You want to know what I think about dramatically lowering your standards and sacrificing your convictions out of pure desperation?

You’re 27, not 97. I have quite a few friends and acquaintances who married for the first time in their mid-thirties to late-forties. You’re using your age as an excuse to give up your convictions in hopes of finding a quick resolution to your problem.

And what’s your problem?  Your problem isn’t that you are single and the last of your unmarried friends, your problem is that you’re unhappy with your life right now. You’re measuring your life by other’s standards which leads to envy, self-pity, and desperation.  Desperation is the biggest repellent of marriage proposals there is.   

My advice to you is stay true to your desire to wed only a Catholic man. Marriages built on shared faith have stronger foundations and last longer. Do you want a quick fix or a strong lifetime commitment built on your Catholic faith?  

When you put it in perspective, the answer to your question becomes quite clear.


Dear Katrina,

My church’s Liturgy Coordinator asked me to be a Eucharistic Minister. Normally, I would say yes but the reason she asked me was because I’m of Cuban descent and she would like a more “ethnically diverse presence in the liturgy” to be more inviting to other races and show how inclusive the parish is. Basically be the token Latino. I think she really believes she meant this as a compliment. Even if I wanted to volunteer now I’m uncomfortable.

I eventually told her no and said I have too many other commitments but I’ve been so bugged by the whole thing I’m wondering if I should tell anyone.


Miguel (but everyone calls me Mike and I’ve never even been to Cuba)


Dear Mike,

The purpose of an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, or a Eucharistic Minister, is to take the Eucharist to those who are homebound or to help with the distribution of Communion in extraordinary situations. Your typical Sunday Mass may not always be an extraordinary situation that requires the regular use of Eucharistic Ministers.

What your Liturgy Coordinator suggested was an abuse. She wanted to use you for a purpose other than that intended for that specific ministry, to basically stand there and look Latino.    

That’s racist.

Your parish seems entirely too focused on external appearances and appearing to be inviting and inclusive when in practice they are alienating different ethnicities. It sounds like they have their priorities confused. Thriving, spiritually beneficial parishes are Christ-centered, not image-centered.

My instinct, because I loathe parishes like this, is to tell you to go ahead and write your priest and tell him why you’re leaving, then suggest you find another parish posthaste, but in fairness, you should make an appointment with your priest and discuss the matter with him. It could be entirely possible he is unaware of what the Liturgy Coordinator is doing. If this parish is your home and you are satisfied there then yes, discuss it with your pastor. It’s obviously bugging you and you need to get it off your chest.

If the resolution you get is unsatisfactory then I stand by my initial instinct to tell you to leave and find another parish.

[Editor’s Note: Take the Poll – Have You Ever Shopped for a New Parish?]

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