Hi everyone. My name is Barry Battista and here is a bit about my past. I grew up in Northern Virginia in a Catholic family. I was an only child. Attended Catholic school until grade 10, when I transferred to a public school.
Growing up I attended activities put on by the Church, and most of my friends were Catholic, but no one that I am aware of really had a tight bond with the Church. I would have never characterized it as a Church family.
Went off to college, first in Lynchburg, Va. and then to the University of South Carolina. Then into the working world. I was not a regular church attendee at that time. Would go for the big occasions but it was not a part of my life. Finally got married, moved to Richmond, Va., and had a couple kids. Divorced 7 years later. My parents were regular church -goers so we went every time we were with them, and the kids and I would go from time to time, but it was not an integral part of our lives.
Got re-married a few years later to someone who was a Christian about like I was, which basically meant we would commune with Jesus when it was convenient. She grew up Baptist and did not like the Catholic Church. So when we went, it was often to different Churches.
Prior to getting re-married, I hired a guy named John and we became friends. He had a bunch of posters of galaxies and stars in his cubicle. This was the beginning of a changing of my life. I asked him about these and as he was describing them, the descriptions always gravitated to creation. We talked at length and finally started going to lunch once a week to discuss what I came to learn was apologetics.
We did this for maybe 10 or 12 years. We got into all kinds of discussions about creation, the Bible, Islam, science, and countless other faith based things. I became aware that being a Christian and being a particular denomination were two completely different things. Started back to Church regularly early during this period, and signed up for Bible study classes, which surprisingly the Catholic Church started having. I had a great time in those, learning and sharing things that I felt were Biblical but not necessarily in lockstep with traditional Catholic teaching. I even attended a Catholic apologetics class that was offered at one point to see what that was about. It was informative but quite different than the apologetics I had learned to that point.
Once the kids were grown and gone, my wife and I started going to Florida in the winter, first for week, then a couple, and 10 years later (now) for 3 or 4 months at a time. These trips started cutting into the Bible study time and I eventually stopped going to the spring sessions because it felt too disruptive to attend for a couple weeks, then miss 4 or 5, then return for the last week or two.
In 1997, when the kids were in their early teens, we bought a cottage on the Rappahannock River in Deltaville, Va. We were always water and boat lovers so this was great. Finally in 2016 we decided to sell the house in Richmond and live permanently in the cottage. There is a Catholic Church nearby but also a few other Churches. One offers a non-denominational “Beach Service” in the summer where you bring your chair and the service is right at the river. It is wonderful so I attended that one from June thru August, then the Catholic one from September thru December, then one in Florida from January thru March.
This was not ideal. Finally my wife found a service from a church in Richmond that streamed it out live every Sunday. The music is great and the sermons very compelling, so we began watching that one together every Sunday no matter where we were. While I miss the interaction, it is nice to attend with my wife and to be able to be a part of the same church all year.
They have sessions they call “small groups” where you either get together with or stream into a small group that does Bible studies and discusses issues and questions that members are having. We just signed up for one of those last week. Unfortunately it was cancelled due to a technical issue, but we are looking forward to getting more involved with the church community beginning this week.
Well, that’s about it. Looking forward to getting to know the people in this group.