Jacklyn Gilmor asks, "Seeing my parents disagree about foundational beliefs could be confusing. Sometimes I would wonder, who’s right?" Pixabay

Speaking out: Growing up with interreligious parents

By  Jacklyn Gilmor, Speaking Out
  • May 30, 2018

Most of my childhood Sundays were spent below the stained glass windows of a beautiful church filled with incense. I was a “cradle Catholic,” baptized in a white gown and confirmed when I still had braces. However, some Sundays I spent in a modestly decorated Pentecostal church. 

My mom is Catholic and my dad is Pentecostal, which is a Protestant denomination with a heavy focus on the Holy Spirit. 

I am and always have been Roman Catholic, but seeing my parents disagree about foundational beliefs could be confusing. Sometimes I would wonder, who’s right? After all, Catholics and Protestants (though both are Christian) have different teachings. 

My mom has always been a strong believer in daily prayer and making Mass attendance a habit, which is a key part of my faith. My dad says it’s important to read the Bible frequently and to understand what I really believe. 

Because there was no definitive answer to every question, I’ve had to search for a lot of answers myself. I’ve also had to make choices about religion. I had to really think about my Confirmation. Considering my family dynamic, it wasn’t something that was just expected of me. Thank God. It was a richer experience, since it was a fully conscious choice. 

In my dad’s faith, there is no confirmation, only baptism. We talked about it a lot, because it was something he didn’t think I had to do. However, I felt the Holy Spirit was calling me to declare my faith that way and receive His gifts, so I went through with it and my dad supported me. It means a lot to me that he was there in church when I was confirmed.

Sometimes, I’ll go with him to his church service, which is very different from a Catholic Mass, but it’s beautiful as well. The worship style is vibrant and passionate. There are lots of “amens” and “alleluias.” I actually recognized this spirit of joy when I went to Life Teen (Catholic youth ministry) in high school. My peers would lift their hands and get lost in the music, and I made a connection to my dad’s congregation. It makes me smile.

Sometimes it’s a struggle. It would be so much easier if we all believed the exact same things, if we never had arguments. As a family, we have to focus on what we have in common in order to support each other in our respective faith journeys. Besides, difficulties often strengthen faith. What would be the point of Christianity if it was easy?

My parents believe a lot of different things. At the same time though, I know they both love God and want to honour Him in the way they live their lives. In letting me experience both faiths, I think they want to offer me the best and help me get to Heaven. 

Being Catholic hasn’t necessarily been easy, but I can see God’s hands in both churches, and on both of my parents. He certainly speaks in unexpected ways.

(Gilmor, 20, is a second-year journalism student at Ryerson University in Toronto.)

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