Groovy Man! An Old Hippy Goes to Church

Frida Berrigan at the Huffington Post tells us what it was like growing up in a groovy Catholic Church:

For starters, there was no rosary involved. Eucharist of watered down wine and old bread was shared around a circle in the living room, consecrated by whoever was “up” that week and shared by agnostics, atheists, Jews and even some Catholics (but it had been a long time since their last confession). It was pretty informal, but I recall that our father, Philip Berrigan, gritted his teeth when one woman shared the Eucharist with her dog, and would get mad at us for picking our feet or playing with our fingernails as the host was coming around the circle. We had nothing to compare this ceremony to, and so did not show the proper reverence (or even basics of hygiene) that he thought of as baseline.

The whole article is here. Frida is the niece of peace activist priest Daniel Berrigan SJ. Her article describes a kind of radical left wing Catholicism that soon ceases to be Catholicism.

In short, our church did not look like a church with stained glass windows, remote and ornately clad priests, or strangely hard and mealy wafers. It looked like belief and life integrated, and in constant tension. So, no, we did not learn the rosary. On the rare occasion we went to church, we mumbled along with the prayers and tried to stand and sit when everyone else did.

So Frida bounced along being nice to people and doing her own thing. Now she goes elsewhere with her husband and son…

Now, my husband and I belong to All Souls Unitarian Universalist Congregation in New London and our son Seamus is being brought up within this incredible community…Patrick is an atheist. He doesn’t believe there is a higher power who watches or cares about us. He says that he doesn’t need to believe in God to be a good person; he doesn’t need an ancient book to tell him what is moral. Patrick believes that we can find all the guidance and moral leadership we need in always asking the question, “How can I help?” The rite and ritual of the Catholic mass is off-putting to him. It would be hard to get him to go to church with me, but we both find comfort, fellowship and food for thought within All Souls’ vibrant, progressive and genuinely welcoming congregation. There is room there for what we each believe.

Groovy Man! Frida and Patrick and Seamus have found their true spiritual home!

May the sifting continue.


  • Neil Leslie

    This is unspeakably sad. To trade the faith of martyrs, saints, and fathers of the church for something so vague, shapeless, and insubstantial that it soon withers and dwindles away into nothing is a poor bargain indeed. Yet I have seen members of my own family make the same trade.

  • Dale

    For those who don’t remember, Philip Berrigan, the woman’s father, had been a Catholic priest. He was a Josephite Father.

    I was too young to understand what was going on, but remember it was considered scandalous that two Catholic priests, the Berrigan brothers, were repeatedly committing crimes and going to prison.

    They made the cover of Time Magazine in 1971,16641,19710125,00.html

    Here is a photo of the Berrigans burning miltary draft records which they had stolen from a Selective Service office. After burning the records in front of the Selective Service office, they calmly waited to be arrested.

    As for Philip’s daughter, Frida, it sounds as if she is trying to follow God. Obviously, she disagrees with the Church on some teachings, but would be attending Mass if it were not for her husband. Please pray for them. If Patrick is keeping her from the Church, at least she is keeping him in church. Its a start. From small seeds grow mighty oaks. And may her son find a path back home.

  • EstoVir

    As the saying goes, “If you don’t believe in something, you’ll fall for anything.”

  • Rebecca Duncan

    Perhaps you could say, may we pray for their souls? instead of good riddance? just a thought.

  • Mary Conces

    It was confusing to read this right after surfing on the “Eye of the Tiber” website. At first I thought it was a spoof.:)

  • TheReluctantWidow

    So basically, Frida grew up in a Protestant house church which abounds by those who are throwing off the shackles of religion to get to the pure Christianity of it being a relationship between God and that person. I don’t understand it but I have facebook friends that are super happy to ditch “the traditions of men.”