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Clifton Diocese is a company limited by guarantee; registered in England and Wales under number 10462076 | Registered Charity No. 1170168 |

Registered Office: St. Ambrose, North Road, Leigh Woods, Bristol, BS8 3PW

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A Christmas message from Katie

I have returned to my faith this year but before I tell you about that experience, I feel that I must share with you the reasons why I left the church.

I was brought up in a strict Catholic family environment. A very loving father and mother, sisters and brothers and attended a Convent in my early years. I always wanted to become a Nun!! My father converted to Catholicism to enable him to marry my mother. He became a very devote Catholic and led a simple, humble life. We were poor in material things, but rich in our family love together. He developed cancer which was terminal and I took compassionate leave from work to nurse him along with my mother who was running the family business at the time. He suffered greatly. I was 25 and couldn’t come to terms with the fact that someone who loved and gave up his life for God was then subjected to a horrific and painful death. The day my father was buried was the day I turned on my God and decided I was not going to ever go to church again. I suffered horrific nightmares for a very long time and greatly missed my father. That was 32 years ago.

Since then I ventured into Mass a few times at Christmas, but I had always told myself that you shouldn’t use the church by just attending on one day of the year if you weren’t prepared to go the rest of the time. However, over the last few years I felt something was missing in my life. I had a wonderful husband and home but there was this void that needed to be filled and I just knew that one day I would need to be reunited with my faith.

My mum died on 9 June this year. Two days before that my Aunt and Uncle celebrated their Diamond wedding anniversary and renewed their vows at the Catholic church where they were married. My father had been their best man and it was a very emotional get-together. My mum cried non-stop and so did I. I felt my father ‘s presence in the church and when I lit a candle for him I had never felt closer to him than at that time or in that place. Two days later he sent the Angels to come and collect my beautiful mother. She had been receiving Holy Communion at home on a Sunday which was the day that I looked after her. I wanted so much to be able to share that experience with her but knew that I was not in a position to do so. We had Requiem Mass said at my mother’s funeral on 29 June which would have been her 92nd birthday and there was no way that I was not going to receive Holy Communion on that very special day. I went straight back to church the day after she died and went to Confession – now known as Reconciliation.

Fr Tom was so very kind to me and reminded me that God sent his only son to suffer on the cross – how silly was I – the penny finally dropped!!

What gave me the right to think that I could just waltz back into the church as and when I decided the time was right? However, that was not the reaction that I got from Fr Tom and the church, and for that I am truly grateful. You may think that at 92 my mum had a long life so how lucky was that, but all I can say is that it is still “your mum” and I miss her so much. She had a very quick and painless death which was so very different to that of my father’s – thank you God for your mercy.

So when I come to Mass now I am at one with my God, my mother and father. I cannot begin to tell you how fulfilled my life finally is. Yes, it’s a scary experience to take the plunge and come back to church but believe me, everyone is so very kind and offers you such a warm welcome. It’s surprising how quickly it all comes back and you feel as if you have never been away. So if you have any desire whatsoever to return to your faith, then I hope my story will help and encourage you to do just that.

Finally, I am home and I know it is where I belong.