Editor’s note: Catholic with a question mark
I’m a cradle Catholic. From the time I was young enough to be in a crib, I was a Catholic.
Even my name is steeped in Catholicism. Cristobella is Italian for “beautiful Christ.” From the day I was baptized, my parents were set on the idea of sending me to Catholic school.
I attended Catholic school from kindergarten through grade 12, and it was one of the most formative experiences of my life.
Elementary and middle school
Before I even understood what Catholicism is, I was donning a plaid uniform jumper and heading off to school, a two-story building that shared a parking lot with the church my family attended.
Sometimes, I wondered why I didn’t get to ride the big yellow bus with the kids who waited on the corner every morning, but I didn’t question it.
I just knew that I enjoyed going to school and learning new things, including things about my religion.
Since kindergarten, religion classes were a mandatory part of the curriculum. At the time, lessons on my faith featured colorful picture books, fantastical tales of men being swallowed by whales and weekly trips to Mass with my class. Mass is a ceremony that celebrates the body of Christ; at the time, it felt more like an aerobics class, with all of the sitting and standing and kneeling.
These lessons were simple and easy to understand, but I wanted to learn more.
As I grew older, I became more aware of what was going on in my religion classes and at Mass.
I learned about Catholic doctrine and gained insight into why my faith believed certain things. It seemed as though the more I learned, the more I came to question these things.
As high school drew closer, my parents gave me a choice: I could continue attending Catholic school, or I could enroll in a public school.
I not only chose to stay in Catholic school, but I decided to attend an all-girls Catholic school.
My time spent in Catholic high school affirmed my belief in a God but created internal conflict about other aspects of my faith.
While the school possessed strong academics, it had strict rules in place that I didn’t agree with. Using the teachings of the faith to justify treating certain students differently was something I took issue with.
I wondered how people could use the religion I viewed as based in love to perpetrate hate against other groups of people.
Despite numerous faith-oriented activities at the school, I didn’t participate because it didn’t feel genuine. I became a less active participant in the church as I began to question my faith even more.
Coming to the University of Houston was my first time attending a secular school.
No longer in a predominantly Catholic environment, I lost touch with my faith. I stopped going to Mass, no longer studied Catholic theology and prayed infrequently.
I was born and raised Catholic, but now it feels more like Catholic with a question mark.
Whether you are questioning your faith or are solid in your beliefs, whether you are a member of an organized religion or not, this special section is for you. Regardless of what faith or culture you belong to, I hope these stories give you the opportunity to see religion from a different point of view.