I was born and raised Catholic. Although we didn't regularly attend church on Sundays, I did make all my Sacraments. I then went on to a Catholic college and even taught CCD to first graders while I was there. I married another Catholic and we had our three children baptized Catholic. Of note, that was also the last time we've been to a Catholic mass (with the exception of weddings/funerals).
About a year before my mom passed away, she randomly started attending a non-Catholic church. At the time we joked that she had joined a cult because she had no idea what the religion even was. Her main reason for going? The church was easily handicapped accessible. Her reason for staying? The people. She ended up regularly attending and even volunteering at the church. When she was dying her Pastor visited us daily and we even had her funeral there. It was where she belonged.
Although she loved the church, my mother struggled with making the actual switch to a new religion and not being Catholic anymore. I always told her that if she was happy there then what did it matter what religion she technically was? Fast forward several years and I totally understand how she felt. Four years ago, an opportunity came up for me to babysit at a local non-Catholic church. It was convenient, gave me a little extra cash, and was a good social opportunity for my (then) two kids. That was the beginning of our involvement with the Bethany Church and I'm so thankful that I took that opportunity. Three years later, all of our children attend(ed) the preschool there, we attend playtime, the children go to summer bible camp there, and a whole bunch of other smaller things. We love everything about the church. The message is great and the people are welcoming and amazing.
However, up until a couple of months ago, we had never actually attended church there. I mean, we're (non practicing) Catholics after all. Catholics don't go to church there - or do they? I had reached a point that I felt like the kids were getting older and should have some form of formalized religion in their lives. So one Sunday morning I bit the bullet and took the kids to the non-Catholic Sunday service. It turned into the beginning of us regularly attending church there . It is warm, welcoming, casual, and a real community. The kids attend Sunday school while I get to sit with the adults and listen to the service. That alone is magical.
So now I find myself right where my mother was - attending and loving a church that is not the religion that I was raised. I am also now making choices that will shape my children's lives and faith. It appears I'm raising non-Catholics which is something I never imagined. Although I haven't been a practicing Catholic for a while and was the first to tell my mother it didn't matter what religion the church was if it made her happy, it's an odd spot to be in. I have no doubt that the kids and I are right where we belong - I think it will just take a little while for my head to fully wrap around it. I mean after all if a church's message is mainly about love and helping each other, how could it not be right for us?
PS - My mother is totally in Heaven laughing at me for joining a cult of my own :)