I never thought I’d become a Catholic unschooler. An unschooler? Maybe. A Catholic? Oh no! At one time in my life, that seemed impossible.
When Andy asked me to marry him, of course, I said yes. “But I’ll never become a Catholic,” I added. I had to make it clear. Just in case. What if my cradle Catholic husband had plans to drag me into his church?
I’d heard stories about the Catholic Church. Bad ones. The Church controls people’s lives. Tells them what to do. It’s just a big institution. similar to schools, designed to take away people’s freedom. Once you get entangled with Catholicism, there’s no hope for you. Much better to stay well away.
So I did.
And then our daughter Felicity was born, and 17 months later, Duncan joined our family. And despite not wanting to, I started thinking about baptisms. Babies are baptised. Why? Does it really mean anything? Or is baptism just an empty celebration that parents arrange because it’s the expected thing to do?
One day, I said to Andy, “If we were to get our children baptised, what church would you choose?”
He gave me the expected answer: “The Catholic Church.”
Did I want our children tied to the Church? Did I want to burden them with Catholic beliefs? I hesitated. Perhaps baptism wasn’t a good idea. Or maybe it was essential? I just didn’t know. Finally, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to find out more about the Church and what baptism actually is before making a decision.
So I arranged to meet the local parish priest. He was the first priest I’d ever spoken to. I felt a bit nervous. And a bit daring too. I was brave enough to meet a Catholic priest! What would he be like? Strange, for sure. But he wasn’t. He was perfectly normal. Kind and friendly and willing to help me.
“I’d like to know more about the Catholic Church. We might get our children baptised.” And then I quickly added, “But then again, we might not.”
Yes, I was only investigating. If I didn’t like what I was about to find out, I would walk away. The Church wouldn’t get my children. I made that perfectly clear.
Although I was prickly and defensive, the priest pretended not to notice. He was magnificent. He smiled as if he met mothers like me every day of the week. He searched his shelves for a book that explained the faith for non-Catholics like me and gently offered an invitation to answer any questions at a later date.
It wasn’t long before I did have a question: “Can you baptise our children?” And then a few months later: “How do I become a Catholic?”
So what changed my mind about the Church? God. He spoke to me as I turned the pages of the Catholic book. He showed me where to find the missing pieces of my life. He flooded me with love. By the time I got to the last chapter, I wanted someone to open the Church door and invite me in.
And so I became a Catholic.
Did I lose my freedom? Were huge burdens heaped upon my shoulders? Is my life dictated by the rules of the Church? No. I needn’t have worried. The Catholic Church isn’t what I’d assumed it to be.
I didn’t understand Catholicism. I didn’t even want to. Then God began whispering the word baptism in my ear. That word led me on an impossible adventure.
Just like I didn’t understand the Church, maybe many people don’t understand unschooling. They hear the negative stories that are passed around. And they say: “I’ll never unschool!” But maybe they will.
When we’re willing to learn more, and then ponder with an open mind, amazing things happen. Impossible things. I’ve discovered that. Have you?
I’d love to hear about your impossible adventures. Perhaps you’re surprised to find you are unschoolers. Do you have a faith story? Or a family one? Maybe you’re investigating and pondering something in particular. Should you be brave and go where you’re being led? If you’d like to share, please do!