I grew up in Long Island, New York in a Catholic household. For the most part, I have very good memories growing up as a Catholic. Every Sunday we went to Mass. During the week, we went to confession. Saturday mornings, we went to confraternity. I spent many Saturday afternoons at the church with my Mom, who routinely volunteered at the book fairs, bake sales and other charity events.

One of my earliest childhood memories is that of my Mom praying the rosary in her bedroom, in the dark, on her knees. Often she invited me to pray silently with her. It was through my Mom that I learned to pray dailyon big things and little things. This may not be the experience of other Catholics, but my Mom taught me to pray continually and that God was always listening.

I remember fondly the sense of awe I felt sitting in St. Paul’s Catholic Church, looking around at the Stations of the Cross. The distinct smells emanating from the incense the priests burned while walking down the aisle on Good Friday. The drama of the Easter service in which all of the priests played a role in the Passion story.

I have great memories of playing baseball through the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) from first grade through seventh grade. Practices began and ended with a prayer. So, as a child, the Catholic Church was a big part of my life and a very positive force in my life.

I attended a Jesuit collegeFordham University in the Bronx, New York. For my first three years at Fordham I lived in a dorm across the street from the chapel. My roommates and I typically went to a special Sunday night service the university held at 10 p.m. The sermons from the Jesuit priests were usually very topical and political, so, as a political science major, I enjoyed the services.

Upon graduation from college, I moved to Washington, D.C. and drifted away from the church. Once I got married and started having children, we returned to the Catholic Church, attending several different churches. As an adult, I felt there was something lacking in the Catholic Church. I wanted more than the same church service I remembered going to as a child. My wife and I were both searching for something more from our faith. Something deeper than ritual and tradition. For whatever reason, we did not feel a warmness from the Catholic churches we attended. There was a disconnect somewhere.

Perhaps the last straw for us was at a Christmas Eve service in which the priest began the service by scolding people for reserving seats for family and for not keeping their children quiet. We both wanted something more for ourselves and our children.

Eventually a neighbor invited us to Floris UMC. Within a few months we became regulars at Floris UMC, and our lives have never been the same.

So, for me, I have very good memories of growing up Catholic. The Catholic Church will always hold a fond place in my heart. But I am also forever grateful to have found a church as wonderful as Floris UMC.

Submitted by Paul Marcone.

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