Hey Parents! Don’t Give Up Hope!

In digging through emails tonight from the year 2000, I stumbled on this email I sent to my mom when I really didn’t want to have anything to do with her. I’m glad to say that our relationship has long since been reconciled, but reading it tonight makes me think about how many times I hear from parents who are estranged from their children, and the great sorrow they feel.

I suspect some parents who might be reading this blog might have received emails like the one below from their own children. I hope my story can give them some hope. To parents who read this, I urge you to always place your trust in God that, (borrowing from St. Paul and St. Julian of Norwich), “in the fullness of time, all will be well, all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.”

I read this letter tonight with joy that comes from realizing that this is far in the past. I now know that God has redeemed all of the pain surrounding this email. It was a bit sad to read it tonight, but I also realize that part of the journey of my spiritual life–and indeed my parents’ spiritual life–needed to go through this particular valley.

I’m recalling right now the strange, but poetically beautiful turn of phrase in Pope Francis’s first encyclical. He writes that Abraham’s faith was rooted in a “memory of the future.”

To parents who are estranged with their children, I always share one message: cling to hope and faith, and as Pope Francis urges us: remember the future! Romans 8:28 must be constantly on our minds: “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” And with the words of St. Pope John Paul II, I say, “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people, and Hallelujah is our song!”

It is good for parents to know those words of St. Pope John Paul II were first uttered by St. Augustine, that great patron saint of chastity who said to God, “give me chastity–but not yet!” Parents, take hope that he was brought into the Church in large part through the prayers and tears of his mother, St. Monica!


Read this…and don’t weep. Rather, have joy that the Prodigal Son has come home, and has been reconciled with his Heavenly Father.

And his mom and dad.

Hi Mom…

I suppose it’s obvious that there are issues unresolved regarding my relationship with you, thus the reason for no communication. I do not desire at this time to open up a dialogue about these things, but since you sent me an email, I feel I need to respond. I don’t really even want to send this email,and would ask that you refrain from responding, and asking why I might be feeling this way or what I’m thinking. It is only fair that I be honest with you, though undoubtedly it will hurt, and the truth is that I don’t desire much interaction right now at all. Lunch is not something I would want to do, and would only do it out of a sense of familial obligation. These feelings, I feel I must be honest, are primarily towards you, not to dad. There is much that I have thought and processed and am continuing to work through. At some point this year, I will express my thoughts/feelings, etc. to you. I ask that you please be patient, and understand that I am committed to reconciling our relationship, but in the right time and in the right manner.

In the meantime, I don’t really have a desire to have much interaction at all with you. I know those words will most likely hurt a little, but I owe it to you to be honest. It has been a long time since I have communicated with you, and you are owed an explanation.

Please don’t respond to this. It may not make sense, but I don’t want to hear from you about this, and I’ll delete any message I get. I suspect that’s difficult, but I need to be honest with you. I don’t really ever want to get an email from you in the foreseeable future–emailing is something which is very personal and important to me, and because of the unresolved issues between us, I don’t really want to see any messages. It is an invasion into a place I don’t want you to be.

Having said all that, I want you to know that I am close to reaching a point where I will communicate my thoughts and feelings with you. I do not know what reconciliation will look like, but it will take place, as I said, sometime this year. I’m committed to that.

I can understand if you feel you want to communicate something to me. If you feel you need to, you can do it through one of my brothers, but please don’t write a letter.


Over a decade later, here is a picture of joy, a moment captured on the last day of filming of Desire of the Everlasting Hills, where I share the great good God has done in my life. Parents, I say cling to hope, and cling to Jesus, the Desire of the Everlasting Hills, trusting that He will bring your child home, just like he did me.

Dan and a beer

19 thoughts on “Hey Parents! Don’t Give Up Hope!

  1. Pingback: Dear Mom, don’t call me, I’ll call you | Monica's Cross

  2. Those are two very powerful images. I used to partake of the beer very much! Now the Eucharist and Adoration are my wine for the day! With, of course a couple of cold brews in the evening!

  3. Recently I got a painfully honest e-mail from my son who identifies as “gay”, and it wasn’t nearly as difficult to receive as yours would have been. So that helps put things in perspective.

    And look at you now! Deo gratias! Thanks for inspiring us parents with hope!

    (Before I even read Paul David’s comments, I was thinking the most ridiculous thought: “If Dan had been Jesus, I think we’d have bread and beer at Mass, rather than bread and wine.” Then I remembered that you also like wine. )

  4. Thanks for this wonderful post…very timely in my life. I have recently discovered your wonderful blog. Keep posting, please! It is very encouraging. May God bless you richly!

  5. Thank you. hearing from those who have been where my daughter is now, in that life so far from Christ and his Church, and knowing that you both have come back from that place, back to the Church- does help. It gives me as a parent hope. Hope to keep praying for her.

    • I’m glad you can take hope from my story. I’m assuming you came here from Rilene’s blog–cling to that hope, and know that God works in His way, and at the right time. Most of all, remember that He longs for your daughter to come back to Him more than you do–and that he’s always watching her steps, and always guiding her steps back to Him. Place yourself completely in His hands, as well as your daughter, especially when things seem most hopeless. Our enemy loves to tempt us to despair, and it’s in those moments where we most have to cling to hope. Rilene, Paul and I are examples of God wooing us back. And He’s doing the same thing with your daughter. Remember too that your sorrow over her choices, and the pain that her choices bring you become transformed when you unite them with the Cross of Christ. St. Monica’s tears brought St. Augustine back home, and your sorrow and pain will be used for a rebirth of your daughter. Think of the pain of childbirth. You are going through a new pain of childbirth–a spiritual rebirth. Offer up all the pain you feel for her, and Lord willing, one day you will rejoice at the homecoming of your daughter, when she truly will be “born again,” and in that moment, just like when you birthed your daughter so long ago, that pain of childbirth will be forgotten in the joy of rebirth. God bless you, and I will say some prayers for your daughter tonight.

  6. Dan, I am so glad you have reconciled with God and with your mom. I too have a same sex attracted child but never received a letter like the one you wrote. I would have been devastated. Its tough enough to face and accept having a gay child and as I am sure you know, a lot of stress for the whole family.
    Thank God my daughter was finally able to come to me and we have tried to keep communication open. Her feeling toward the Church is in need of a lot of help and repair since she feels alienated and uncomfortable. My feeling toward the church changes every day but am trying to find my way back. The Lord IS kind and merciful.
    Thanks for your honesty and willingness to share your story.

  7. Dan, I thank the Lord for finding you and Rilene in my life. My son is in a lot of need for prayers. I pray everyday, moment and second to the Lord for his liberation. It has been very difficult to be away from him with no communication at all, especially when we were used to have a close relationship-a least that is what I thought. I did not get a letter like yours but I have lived it the past seven months. I can say that the Lord save me because I was going to a dark episode in my life where life did not mean anything. Your stories of coming home give the strength to not give up on him. I pray that one day I will be giving my testimony of the wonders of God next to my son.
    Many blessings to you and Rilene. I do not have the privilege to know you and Rilene personally but I know it will happen soon.
    Cecilia Reyes-Murillo (Central Valley, California)

    • Cecilia, I will say some prayers for your son! And I look forward to meeting you some day, perhaps at the Courage Conference this coming year. On this feast day of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the homily from the priest at Church spoke of Mary’s words, “be it done to me according to thy word.” I think Mary becomes a model for parents, along with the words of her Son in the Garden: “May this cup pass, but even so, Thy will be done.” The toughest challenge is trusting in God in all of this messiness and pain that you’re going through. But God is in control, and trust me, as one who has been the Prodigal and come home, I needed to step away from God before I would truly come to love Him. All of the pain you feel for your son and the tears you shed are the greatest means by which you can love him now, and those painful moments, offered up on his behalf, are the greatest source of his redemption.

      You are in my prayers, and so is your son!

      • Dan, this was so beautifully written ( your response) I never made the connection between the Immaculate Conception and The Cup in the garden. But truly, let it be done according to thy will oh Lord in both scenes. Pain and suffering + prayer can indeed intercede…..aka “bend the will of God”…..how true and pure an offering of tears and prayer, the same is what redirected Augustine’s ship by his mother Monica……she did one important thing…….she persevered!

  8. My daughter was estranged from us for 12 years. I totally gave up hope. I made a novena to Saint Monica,and my daughter reunited. Our relationship is great now. I was so hurt and angry I thought if she made contact I would slam the door in her face, but the minute I saw her again only joy filled my heart.

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