Sunday, March 12, 2017

Cradle Catholic

"I was educated in public + parochial schools in L.A. and was raised very Catholic. I was taught by and still know many devoted people, lay and clerical. I am no longer practicing, and the family I have married into and raised two sons in is not Catholic. I weigh the good the Church has done with the bad; I stand apart. BTW, 1/10th of Americans are ex-Catholic. If not for immigrants, the parishes would be empty indeed in many places. As w/ Ireland now." 
I posted this on a Facebook feed after a friend there, a native of Dublin now living about 30 miles east of me, reflected on raising his children non-Catholic. He and his wife were cradle Catholics.

Another friend, whom I admire for his principles hard-won and doggedly expressed against threats of violence to him and his family, assists his local St. Vincent de Paul charity in his Irish small city. He reasoned that in the absence of state assistance, the poor and the neglected earn their keep and their minding from volunteers such as himself. I accompanied him on his rounds, as two men are assigned to go together to avoid any disrepute. Although an articulate and vehement non-believer, his background, like nearly all the Irish friends I have, remains embedded in our tribe, our "romish" clan.

A week ago, I received an Ancestry DNA test to take. Lacking knowledge of my genetic history in the absence of contacts, my wife suggested I spring the $100 for this. It will match my autosomal DNA with any others in the pool at that site. Unfortunately, there's no one database. FamilyTreeDNA is a rival, with its own tests and participants. And then there's Google's 23+Me (although limited now on what it can share about health findings), and in Europe, MyHeritage. This can all add up to a few hundred dollars, and not counting the pricier Y-DNA paternal and mitochondrial offerings for deeper knowledge. Still, for those of us cut off or ignorant of the strains good or bad within us, it's progress.

When I got to the religious affiliation, I hesitated. Unlike Ireland and many nations, one's denomination is not asked by our census, and rarely have I ever had to tick any box for it on any document, I realize. I put "prefer not to answer," but after reading the reactions to the sad revelations revived about "the Tuam babies" scandal at the ironically christened Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home, I am reconsidering. I leave certain details discreet, but suffice to say that this home rose in the vicinity of where my grandparents would have grown up, and that "by the grace of..." in my own family tree...So, that makes me wonder. Despite my own disaffiliation, by tribal ties, for probably 1600 years, my ancestral allegiance among my nameless forebears has been to this Church.

Therefore, for genealogists, my data may align better with narrowed parameters if I claim this identity. It may no longer be mine in action, but in my origins, however free of genetic influence, the patterns imprinted in my psyche, my quirks, and my outlook may gain some traces of trauma passed down, as has now been confirmed, by a harrowing series of unfortunate events, so to say, endured.

In conclusion, I leave this generalized for protection of my own story, and what I know or do not know of it remains mostly occluded by law, reticence, and time. But my search for origins, to dispel my own conception when I was brought up of my own "origin myth," persists as a strong factor in my own makeup, both of nature and nurture. And reflecting on the terminated stories of so many near my "home turf" I realize I will have to go back and change my affiliation, in testimony to this inheritance.

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