Saturday, August 30, 2003

As a teen, he left the church

'I can talk to God better on my own'

By Sharon Coolidge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Jack Knellinger
Many of Jack Knellinger's childhood memories are tied to Catholicism.

"I loved that sense of security," says Knellinger, of Dayton, Ohio. "Knowing that no matter what you do you're always forgiven and have a spot next to God.''

Today, going to confession is what the 20-year-old Miami University student misses most since leaving the church his senior year in high school.

It was the same year allegations surfaced against a priest at the high school - an investigation he participated in. He later heard the priest allegedly had inappropriate interactions with some of Jack's friends.

"More and more, the church was getting sued because a priest was a pedophile and then they'd just pay off the victim," Knellinger says.

"That money should be used for charity, rather than dealing with problems that shouldn't be there in the first place."

The last few Masses Knellinger attended seemed void of feeling.

"I looked around and everyone was standing and saying the appropriate things, but not thinking about the meaning behind the words."

Spirituality, he says, is more than going to church.

"I no longer perceived going to church as a place to go to wind down and feel free from all the evil in the world," he says.

"If you can't get away from evil in the world at church, where are you supposed to do it?"

Instead of attending Sunday Mass, Knellinger takes time every day - sometimes before bed, sometimes in a free moment between classes - to talk to God.

"Right now,'' he says, "I can talk to God better on my own."

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