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 | Steve and Bridget Patton

Our Adult Daughter Stopped Attending Mass

July 14, 2023 |

What to do when spouses disagree how to address this issue?  Should you continually bring up the topic?

He says:

I know she wouldn’t appreciate it, but still, I think we owe it to her as her parents.

She says:

I expect that bringing it up would push her even further away from the Church.


Catholics usually stop attending Mass either because their relationship with God has stagnated or because they have never really experienced an authentic, loving relationship with him in the first place. It may have been nothing more than a habit that didn’t reflect or reinforce any real longing to be close to Jesus.

If this is the case with your daughter, then that deeper level of her underlying relationship with God is where you should focus your efforts, not at the mere surface level of “trying to get her to go to Mass.”

However, there is certainly something to be said for going to Mass – and encouraging our loved ones to go – even if they don’t feel “connected” to God. This is where our Sunday obligation figures in. It’s not unlike our obligation to go to family events even if we don’t feel like it.

Yes, we go to Mass to worship God, but we also go because “the Church is nothing other than ‘the family of God.’” (CCC 1655) We belong at our family gatherings.

But if your daughter is essentially disconnected from the Church, then pulling the Sunday obligation lever is not likely to jump-start her into a newfound love for God. It will more likely come across as guilt manipulation.

So, what to do? In short, continuously pray for her and  love her unconditionally.

St. Augustine, a towering figure and one of the greatest saints of the Church, was not always a saint. Indeed, for many years, he resisted and flatly rejected the Catholic faith. But for years his devout mother, St. Monica, continuously and fervently prayed for his conversion. God listens with special tenderness and attentiveness to the prayers of parents for their children.

Above all, love your daughter the same regardless of her Mass attendance. God loves us unconditionally. All we can do is make ourselves either more or less receptive to his constant, unconditional love. Show that same quality of God’s boundless, unqualified love for us to your daughter. Then, if she returns to Mass, it will likely be to receive more of that same love.

Steve and Bridget Patton hold master’s degrees in theology and counseling and serve as family life ministers in the Diocese of Sacramento.

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