After Time Away, Active Catholic Finds Fulfillment
Published: December 9, 2010
Sherial Cubit, 36, returned to the Catholic Church in 2008, where today she is a member of St. Paul of the Cross Church, Atlanta. Cubit serves the parish as communications co-chair for the parish capital campaign planning committee, a lector, an adult acolyte and a member of Ultreya.
ATLANTA—It was during a Protestant worship service that Sherial Cubit sensed that after 10 years away from the Catholic Church, it was time to return.
“We were singing a song about money and it was just so uncomfortable to my spirit, I couldn’t be a part of it anymore,” she said.
Her return to the church was as an adult eager to be engaged and whose questions were taken seriously. And it was helped by the warm community that embraced her at St. Paul of the Cross Church, Atlanta.
“That group really adopted me like family. And that was it,” she said.
Her journey is one of growing to a more active faith, a prayerful wrestling with women’s roles in the church while gaining a deeper understanding of church history and doctrine.
Born in San Antonio, Texas, Cubit spent many hours of her childhood at her parish, Holy Redeemer Church. She was an altar server, a lector and wondered if she had a vocation as a religious sister.
“I went to Catholic day care and Catholic elementary schools, so I was raised in the faith. Any chance I had to carry it out and live it was just a thrill for me,” she said.
This parish is tied to her family history, with her grandmother and father, Ken, growing up in the black Catholic faith community. Her mother, Nettie, became a Catholic as an adult. Her mother works at AT&T, and her father retired from the company.
Cubit for college moved some 70 miles away to the University of Texas in Austin. There she became rootless. The Catholic campus ministry was so different from her home. And a local black parish in Austin was focused on young families, not a college student.
And her sorority sisters, many of whom were Protestant, peppered her with questions about her faith. Her lack of answers further led her away from the church. She soon stopped worshipping at Mass, which had once been so important to her.
After graduating, Cubit moved to Atlanta. She joined a nondenominational church.
“I had gotten to a place where there was my world and there was God’s world, and God needed to fit in my world,” said Cubit, who is 36 and works in communications at UPS.
This relationship with God worked for many years. But the song about money shook her comfortable point of view. She started again to explore church communities, including Catholic parishes.
Sherial Cubit attends the Nov. 11 parish capital campaign planning committee meeting at the parish Spiritual Center. (Photos by Michael Alexander)
The parish of St. Paul of the Cross, Atlanta, is a mostly African-American parish on Atlanta’s west side. A ministry to returning Catholics was in place, and she took part.
“This group just embraced me right away,” she said.
Cubit could ask a lot of questions, dive deeper into church liturgy and become more knowledgeable about the church.
For her, an attractive part of Protestant services is spontaneous and emotional worship, in contrast to the repetition at Mass.
During her classes, she studied the liturgy and its role in the faith. Now, the predictability of Mass—the sitting, the standing, the kneeling—is a favored routine because it’s part of the “universal experience, knowing that we always do the same things.”
“It’s a ritual, but it’s a celebration and I didn’t have an appreciation or understanding of that before,” she said.
Her return doesn’t mean erasing questions from her mind. Cubit admires the service of a deacon in the church, who is able to have a family and also minister to the faithful. She struggles that women cannot serve as deacons.
“I understand that’s where the church is. I pray for understanding about it. I pray for comfort about it. I pray for the church’s decisions and guidance and for the church just to continue to do right by the people,” she said.
Meanwhile, she is active in her parish, a leader in the ongoing capital campaign, an adult acolyte. She is involved in Cursillo and is also part of the Catholics Come Home ministry.
“I used to call myself a recovering Catholic and I have a lot of friends who still do, but it’s a whole lot more fulfilling and it feels a whole lot better to be an active Catholic than a recovering one.”