Hello, and welcome to this new blog project!

As you can read in About the blog, this blog is devoted to the little, ordinary things that every Catholic should know… but a surprising number of us don’t. It’s intended for the ordinary Catholic in the pew who, for whatever reason, never learned some things about what we do, or why we do what we do. But whether you are Catholic, formerly Catholic, or never were Catholic, you are welcome here.

Beginning next week, I’ll post a brief weekly entry about one of those things every Catholic should know. It will be accompanied by a poll, like the one below, where you can vote to indicate whether or not you knew that. (If you never were Catholic, I ask that you refrain from voting so that the polls capture information about patterns of education among Catholics.)

Then, please use the comments to expand on your answer, share your thoughts, reactions, stories about the topic, or further related questions. You can also use the Suggestion Box to ask a question or suggest a topic for a future post.

One of the things that is interesting about Catholic education is that it varies quite a lot, both by region and by generation. So periodically I’ll run introduction threads like this one, where I invite you to share a little demographic information:

– whether you are (or were) a cradle Catholic or adult convert
where and roughly when you received your initial Catholic formation/education
– and anything else you’d like to share about yourself or your Catholic formation experience.

So I’ll start. My name is Victoria Gaile, and I’m a cradle Catholic. I’ve spent most of my life describing myself as a “Vatican II baby”, but recently realized that “first generation Vatican II Catholic” might be a less surprising description at this stage of my life. 😉 I have no conscious recollection of the Latin mass, although I do remember when the mass changed, because all of a sudden, it was over almost right after communion! I was barely 4 at the time.

I received my Catholic education at Our Lady of Fatima school in New York in the 1960s, first as a public school kid released weekly for “religious instruction” and sacramental prep, and then as a Catholic school kid; then in the 1970s, I attended Catholic elementary and junior high school in Rhode Island, then switched to public school for high school and received my sacramental prep for confirmation in evening classes at my parish. My area of Rhode Island was overwhelmingly Catholic: I didn’t know any Protestant kids.

I never used the Baltimore Catechism; my religious education came out of religion books in elementary school, and in junior high and high school we used informal materials and the Bible. In college, I joined the Newman Community (the Catholic parish on campus), and became very active in the liturgical ministries there, which taught me a great deal, and I have been liturgically involved (and thus learning) for most of my life. Today I’m pursuing a master’s degree in theology.

Now, your turn: please introduce yourself!

(Updated to add: Full names not required – first names or pseudonyms are fine.)


15 thoughts on “Introductions!

  1. Good morning, I’m Susan Yost from Baltimore, MD. I, too, am a cradle Catholic. At different points in my life, I’ve been challenged about how come I remain Catholic. My response continues to bring me back to the focal point of the Eucharist. I attended a Catholic elementary school and high school. My college years started at a Jesuit institution–Wheeling College (now Wheeling Jesuit University), but I finished my Bachelor’s degree at Western MD College (now McDaniel College). I completed my Master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling from Loyola College in MD (now Loyola University). My children have all been raised Catholic and have received their sacraments. I’m a member in St. William of York parish in Baltimore, and have been for the past 15 years. I’m very involved in Youth Ministry. Currently, my vocation has me serving at Seton-Keough High School, an all-girls Catholic high school in Baltimore.

    Guess this is good for now. Thanks! Happy Thanksgiving! Peace,


  2. I’m Patrick. I’m a cradle Catholic, but my mother was Methodist. I went to public school and weekly to what first was called “catechism class” and later CCD. We started with the Baltimore Catechism, although somewhere in there we transitioned to other kinds of instructional material. I’m enough older to remember the Latin mass (barely). I was moderately active, but never in the leadership, of the Catholic student groups at University of Chicago (undergrad) and Princeton (grad). I could say more, but that will do for starters.

  3. Cheryl Campo. (Hi, Vicki and Susan!) Cradle Catholic. Formation started early since my parents introduced me to prayer (particularly the rosary and novenas) at an early age. I attended parochial school until the 4th grade at which point my family moved into a predominantly Jewish neighborhood and I was transitioned into public school. I continued to receive religious education through CCD (when they still called it that). My family also participated in monthly prayer group meetings where a statue of Mary and/or the Santo Nino was circulated among 5-7 different families in our housing development. Because these gatherings always involved food, fellowship, and talent shows put on by the kids (there were usually anywhere from 10-12 of us), I had/have a lot of good associations with this stage of my prayer life.

    In college, I did the leave and come back thing with the church (the first of two significant ones) and had WONDERFUL campus/music ministers who really shaped my view of liturgy. (At Rutgers, the religious were predominantly from the Dominican order.) I was also on the Newman Council and went to my first retreats in college. After that, I continued to be involved with campus ministry through grad school (directing the music ministry at UConn for a little while, even) and in local parishes when I was no longer in school. While still in grad school, I had the fortune of being able to attend a summer conference for folks interested in/currently teaching at Catholic institutions of higher learning which, through break-out groups, really helped me to connect my professional training in science and engineering with my Catholic faith. Toward the end of grad school, I was fortunate enough to get involved with the very active young adult ministry in the Diocese of Cleveland which was also very formative as it exposed me to peers in the 20 to 30-something age range who were on similar paths as me.

    I had one more major leave the church and come back experience (surprisingly after a pretty memorable stay at a Benedictine Monastery in OK, detouring though the LDS church, Judaism, bible study with some non-denomenational friends, and even checking in with a Messianic Judaism congregation in the interim) before a Reconstructionist Rabbi I met with briefly after moving to a new state at the time walked me over to the church I currently attend. Have tried to get involved with various groups at the church since (including attending a few RCIA sessions when I first came back).

  4. My name is Karla Peterson and I’m one of your outlier friends from work. I grew up a Presbyterian minister’s daughter. But we were in very Catholic RI*, so most of my friends were Catholic. Dad was good friends with the priests for the church that taught in my elementary school. Yes, Catechism classes were taught after school let out right there in the classrooms. So because none of my friends were available to play on Wednesdays he let me take Catechism up until first communion. Mom reports that when I came home from my first day I told her they were just like us and said the “Ah Fatha” but at the end they scratch themselves. Life throws curve balls so I am now a very active Unitarian Universalist and Dad and Mom became Catholic after he retired. (Dad always said he liked the fact that with the Catholics you didn’t feel like you were changing religions when you visited another church. He also thought the Presbyterians had become too liberal.) He even gave me a copy of the Catholic Catechism for a Christmas present once! But I think he realizes now that I am a lost cause.

      • And then they divorced, he remarried, and now he has converted to Greek Orthodox. 🙂 He loves how stable the liturgy is. (He told me it is very similar to the one created in the 300s. Since he has a ThD in New Testament theology he can even follow the Greek.

  5. My name is Dorothy. I’m a cradle catholic and you can still get the Latin responses out of me if you push the right button! I attended St Denis Catholic School (1-8) in Michigan, where the faculty was 90% Sisters of St. Joseph. Vatican II occurred while I was in grade school. Does that date me? I attended the public high school, which was ~25% Jewish. They were released from school for their religious holiday, but the catholic students weren’t. While in high school, I attended CCD classes at night at the church, where the instructors were lay people and we used different sources as text books. I don’t recall much study of the church in CCD. It was more of a morals course. Over the years I’ve been involved with three Newman Centers – one associated with the local diocese, one run by Basilain fathers, the other by Franciscans. For the last 25+ years I’ve been attending a regular parish church. I’m quite concerned at the conservative turn the Catholic Church (at least the bishops) has taken. When it gets too deep, I recall a statement made by female, New York politician when asked about the bishop’s opposition to her campaign. She said “It’s my church too.” One more note: While growing up, we said the rosary every night during Lent. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I learned the mystery you follow depends on the season of the year and the day of the week! Clearly I missed something during those years in grade school.

    • Thanks for joining us, Dorothy! I had a little book with meditations on the mysteries that had the rules for which day, so I learned that one early. Come to think of it, it probably had a chart. I’m all about charts. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Are you Catholic? Did you Know…? : a new blog project | Gaudete Theology

  7. I’m going to use a pseudonym for reasons that my be obvious shortly.

    I was born to Catholic parents in the early 1960’s. I was raised Catholic, but went to public school. There were “sunday school” classes called “CCD”, but I never knew what “con-fraternity” means.

    My first memory of realizing that there was something weird going on was when I asked my grandmother “If God made everything, where did God come from?” She said “I asked the priest that once and you know what he said?” “What?” “He said ‘*you could be excommunicated for asking that*'”

    Even my fresh new 6 year old brain knew that was a bullshit answer, but I didn’t really follow it through. I continued to go to CCD and believe the stuff they were telling me until the mid 1970’s when I started questioning it all seriously. I reconsidered all of politics and religion. I studied many different political, social, and religious systems.

    In the religion department, I found that *no* religion holds up under scrutiny. It isn’t just that I rejected Catholicism — I rejected them all, along with the pseudo-science that was popular at the time.

    The basis for my rejection is a total absence of plausible evidence. It’s this old book vs that ol
    d book, and I have no particular reason to believe one over the other. I see pretty clear evidence
    that God either 1) does not interact with the world, or 2) works very very hard to prevent me from
    seeing him do it.

    On the other hand, I can verify quite a lot of what is in the science books and they mostly agree in the details. (You have to be careful analyzing the evidence, though. I did the “two-slit experiment” described in Asimov’s Guide to Science; it did *not* create a diffraction pattern. Asimov neglected to mention one particularly important characteristic of the slits.)

    Since then, I’ve identified as an atheist. I’m more out than I used to be, but in many contexts I am rather circumspect. There are places where I would risk repercussions; for example, if I used my real name here, it might affect my ability to get another job someday.

    I’m interested in this blog because I know Victoria, and one of the interesting things that happens
    when we talk about religion is that I realize that *her* religion (“Catholic”) has only a loose re
    semblance to the religion *I* grew up in (“Catholic”). I anticipate checking “didn’t know tha
    t” a lot. 🙂

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