two kids are seen sitting in a pew in church


As A Kid, Church Wasn’t a Choice — And It’s The Same For My Kids

May 11, 2022

I was raised to go to church every Sunday.

I grew up praying the rosary every day and have participated in religious rituals such as fasting.

I received the sacraments of baptism, reconciliation, first communion and confirmation.

As a child, these behaviours were not choices.

"For the first time, as a young adult, the decision to go to church was mine."

It didn't once cross my mind that I might have options. Because certainly, in my childhood home, I did not.

When I moved away from home to go to university, there was a church a couple of blocks away from my apartment that I attended every Sunday. By that time, going to church was a habit and provided a connection to where I came from.

For the first time, as a young adult, the decision to go to church was mine.

Helen Racanelli was raised without religion, but she wants that to change for her children.


I am now a parent of three.

And you would have to ask my sons to know how they feel about going to church every Sunday.

I’m sure it helps that our congregation includes many families with young children. They are by no means the only kids around.

Just like when I was a child, their attendance is not optional.

And as a parent in 2022, I know it’s risky to admit that I’m OK with that.

"Just like when I was a child, their attendance is not optional."

While they may have no say in church, I do make sure there are other opportunities in their lives where they get to make the call.

Going to church is just not one of them.

At this point in my life, going to mass is a weekly social, peaceful and joyful activity that I look forward to and genuinely enjoy.

In fact, I seek extra opportunities for myself or my family to hang out at church whether it’s faith formation, book club, bible study, family catechism, children’s choir or summer camp.

I beam from the pew watching my older sons altar serve — and my youngest can’t wait for his turn to join them!

Quentin Janes can see the value from various spiritual disciplines, but he raises his daughter atheist.


Easter just passed, which means our family celebrated Lent.

We ate pączki doughnuts on Tlusty Czwartek, went to church on Ash Wednesday, read daily reflections about the lives of saints, went to reconciliation, attended the stations of the cross, brought home blessed palms on Palm Sunday, fasted on Good Friday, blessed a basket of food on Holy Saturday (Grandma’s Easter bread is a favourite), feasted with family and celebrated the Paschal Triduum by attending mass.

Of course, we also searched for chocolates from the Easter bunny!

And finally, on Easter Monday, my boys awoke to a light splash of water — our own version of Śmigus-dyngus.

"I know that for some religion can be perceived as oppressive or unnecessary. I feel grateful that that has not been my experience."

I love all of these traditions.

I know that for some religion can be perceived as oppressive or unnecessary. I feel grateful that that has not been my experience.

My faith is my strength. I can’t think of anything more peaceful than sitting in that church pew, and I don’t want to know a Sunday where I am not there.

Even when I travel, I find it comforting to share the same familiar rituals with people I don’t know in places I have never been.

The more birthdays I celebrate, the more I want to become just like how I remember my Baba.

And if I should be so lucky to get to spend my golden years like she did — sitting near the front at daily mass, singing in the choir with friends, post-mass rituals like grabbing coffee, praying the rosary in a big ole red upholstered rocking chair, evenings of bingo and Wheel of Fortune — then I will be one very happy lady.

All I can do is hope that my kids will find the joy and comfort of these rituals too.

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