POINT-COUNTERPOINT: Going to church

Dave Perritano and his dad, Fran.

Does not going to church make me a bad person?

Dave Perritano has encountered a dilemma many Catholics face. Because of one circumstance or another, he doesn’t attend Mass on a regular basis. He wonders if that makes him a ‘bad Catholic,’ even thoughhe does many other things the gospel teaches us to do. He submitted, in part, the following. His dad, Fran Perritano, in his counterpoint, offers his response to his son.

By DAVE PERRITANO

I’m a 30-year-old overnight news producer in North Carolina. I’m Utica born and raised, but after I graduated from Syracuse University, I’ve lived in Long Beach, Calif., Binghamton, and Wilmington and Durham in North Carolina.

I have been lucky enough to have been a part of three wonderful parish communities – their one thing in common: they were all in New York. Out west and here in the South, Catholicism can be in the minority, so worship options are limited.

So, my question to you is, does it make me a bad Catholic because I have lost my enthusiasm about attending Mass weekly? When I’m home, going to Saturday evening or Sunday Mass comes just as easy to me as brushing my teeth. It’s just something you do. And I enjoy it. Here, it feels like a burden for something unfulfilling.

While many may disagree, I believe church is someplace you should WANT to go, not just some place you HAVE to go. You want your kids to like vegetables because they’re good for you, but how effective is force feeding?

I think in the end, we’ll all be judged on how we live our lives. So, if I no longer attend Mass regularly, or could be considered one of the PACEs (Palm Sunday, Ash Wednesday, Christmas and Easter attendee), will I not be allowed to pass through the pearly gates?

Now, take into account that for the past three years I’ve volunteered for a few hours weekly at the University of North Carolina Children’s Hospital. I also donate yearly to the hospital’s fundraiser, and to a similar one at Duke Children’s Hospital, just to name a few.

So, if I choose to make productive use of my Catholic upbringing, does that count in my favor?

Let me know, and I’ll see you at Easter!

By FRAN PERRITANO

As the years have gone on, I have determined in my mind that the rules of the church are guidelines to make us better people.

You are doing what the gospel teaches – caring for others, being a good person and leading a good life.

As far as going to church, you were spoiled. You grew up in Mount Carmel, a great parish with a beautiful church, excellent services and understanding priests.

You said you had similar experiences at Syracuse University and in Binghamton, but things went south when you went South.
One thing my age and wisdom have given me is that you get out of life what you put into it.

It was your involvement with the people. At Mount Carmel, you were involved in the parish since you were a kid. At Syracuse, you were involved with a good priest and a great group of friends. In Binghamton, it was more of the same. You were even a lector there.
It was your involvement with the parish community, not the building, not the services, not the beautiful artwork.

If you’re bored with a situation in a church you visit, why not try to make a difference. Get involved. Meet the people. Make new friends. Offer your expertise to help make the parish grow into what you know a parish can be.

My advice is not to look back at the way things were for you, look ahead at the possibilities of what they can be.

I can guarantee that practicing your faith and being with others can help you cope with life’s disappointments. It also will greatly enrich your life and give you peace.