Gabbing with Middle-Aged Catholics


St.  Edward's Catholic Church, Shelton, WA

St. Edward's Catholic Church, Shelton, WA

I work in a county office here in rural Washington—and, sometimes the stereotype about county workers are true: middle-aged women who like to gab populate these positions. So, true to form on a late Thursday afternoon, the ladies at Mason County Extension started gabbing about their weekend plans. And yesterday, the topic was going to church on the weekend.

I had no idea I worked with so many cradle Catholics!

The Latina in the group grew up Catholic and now sort of disdains the whole institution. She takes her family to Mass every once in a while, mostly because her husband wants them to go. She does keep her kids enrolled in CCD and Confirmation classes. Why, I asked. Just because that’s what you should do.

My fellow Midwest transplant hasn’t been to Catholic Mass in years—wouldn’t even dream of it. She goes to the upbeat (?!) Lutheran service where the county commissioner plays harmonica in the church band.

The local busy-body is married to a Catholic who started asking the family to go to Mass on Sundays several years ago. He teaches CCD and she wishes she spoke Spanish so she could attend the Spanish Mass—she spotted guitars going in the door; a would-be vast improvement over the apparently lackluster English Mass musician.

I have spent so much time and energy thinking about young women’s Catholic identity, that I was startled to hear these 40- 50-something women talking about their Catholic lives.

Have you had similar conversations? How do middle-age women you know talk about being Catholic? Why do they or don’t they attend Mass? What sorts of tones do they use to talk about Mass?

Kate Dugan is a 29-year old Catholic living on Harstine Island in Shelton, Washington. She is a co-editor of From the Pews in the Back: Young Women & Catholicism.


1 thought on “Gabbing with Middle-Aged Catholics

  1. I wrote about this a bit in a previous post; when I asked my mother why she had remained Catholic, hoping for spiritual insight, all I received was talk about how her “guilt made her do it.” This seems to be the general consensus among most middle-aged Catholics (actually, mostly former-middle-aged Catholics), that the one thing about Catholicism that never leaves the psyche is the guilt complex. I think it’s rather depressing that this is all these women feel they took with them from the faith of their childhood. I also find that a lot of middle aged women haven’t truly transitioned past Vatican II; the way they were Catholics as children is the way they remain Catholics in their hearts, regardless of whether or how things have changed.

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