I was born in 1957 into an Irish Catholic family in Liverpool, UK. We went to mass every Sunday and I became an alter boy and head altar boy. I loved the pomp and ceremony, the dressing-up etc. I served at masses, vespers, stations of the cross etc so I was in church for many hours a week. At age 11 I was sent to a seminary in Lancashire, a boarding school with very strict rules. My dad was delighted: he was a year away from taking his final orders (being ordained a priest) when he left the seminary to look after his dying dad: as he was no longer at college he was drafted to do his National Service in the Army and he met my mum and married her.
The life in the seminary was brutal, beatings, not enough food and I was desperately homesick. I rebelled and was beaten frequently. I left the seminary after 3 years and went to a grammar school run by the Christian Brothers, another bunch os sad, sick and cruel religious zealots and hypocrites.
In hindsight the priests at the seminary beat religion out of me! I now describe myself as a recovering Catholic and a devout Atheist.
Coincidentally my father later ‘lost his faith’ and became very critical of catholicism, he was always a Socialist and a kind and decent man.