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Byline: Dogen Hannah
PLEASANTON, Calif. _ The Catholic church Donna Carlton remembered was much different.
In the church of her childhood, Mass was in Latin, priests delivered sermons from the pulpit and the laity _ certainly girls or women _ were barred from ascending to the altar.
So Carlton, now 60 and a retired nurse in Pleasanton, didn't know what to make of it when, in the early 1970s, she encountered Mass in English, priests roaming the aisles, and altars no longer entirely off-limits. These changes, a result of progressive and controversial reforms spurred by Vatican II in the 1960s,were tough to accept.
"It was a big culture shock for me," Carlton recalled. "I wasn't sure how I was going to handle all this. ... I felt very left out, though I still believed in my religion, in my roots."
She drifted away, rarely attending church and never feeling like she belonged with a parish. In doing so she became a member of what some observers have called the nation's second-largest religious group _ an estimated 17 million …