chilipeppasbaby (chilipeppasbaby) wrote in little_details,

Catholic priest's advice to a fourteen-year-old girl

My character is a fourteen-year-old girl who migrated to Australia with her family from Singapore when she was six. Her family were Hindus way back when, but have been Catholic for generations. She attends a Catholic girls' high school, where she is bullied by other girls for being what they consider overly religious: volunteering to sing a hymn for the end-of-day prayer, going to lunchtime mass once a week, making reference to her church youth group in conversation, things like that. My character is widely considered to be nice to a fault, shy and unable to defend herself, to the point that her two best friends wade in to speak for her whenever she seems to be getting into strife. She experienced some racist bullying at primary school (older girls chasing her around and gabbling at her in "African language," no matter how many times she tried to explain that she was from Singapore), but now that she is older, the bulk of the bullying is related to her religion (with the occasional jibe at her accent, and the occasional, "She can't help being religious, her parents never let her out of the house!"). She is just getting to the point where she is starting to feel anger at other people, rather than just feeling angry with herself. She is wishing that people would allow her to be brave instead of casting her as helpless and defenceless, but can't find a way to articulate this.

During a reconciliation (confession) session in the school chapel, my character asks the priest (a young priest-in-residence from South America) what she should do when people tease her for being religious. The priest replies... what?

You see, I've never actually participated in reconciliation, even though I did attend Catholic school for nine years, because my family raised us as atheists. During reconciliation, the non-religious girls would go up, explain that they weren't baptised, get the verbal approximation of a fond pat on the head, and be sent back to their seats. (Also, there were no confessional booths, and therefore, none in my story - the priest sits in a chair beside the altar, and the girls are called up one by one to talk with him.)

What might a priest say to a Catholic girl at a Catholic school who is being teased about her religion? Could there be a particular Bible verse or story he might quote (if they generally do that during reconciliation)? My character is reasonably familiar with this priest from services outside of school (in fact, he greets her by saying, "We missed you at services on Sunday!", she replies that her family went to a church up in the city for Mass and then out for brunch afterward).

I've Googled "bullying," "religious bullying," "atheist bullying," "bullied for being religious" and "catholic bullied at school," without a great deal of success.
Tags: ~bullying, ~religion: christianity: catholicism

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