The American reality-television series “Return to Amish”, has made Maureen Byler one of the most-talked-about members of the cast during its sixth season airing. It was a spin-off series from TLC’s “Breaking Amish,” which was mostly about former members of the Amish and Mennonite communities in Pennsylvania, who traded their simple and conservative way of life for a chance to live a modern lifestyle in another city. Maureen was one of those who took the risk of being shunned by her family and her friends, by following her heart in exploring the world beyond their community, or what they perhaps not-so-fondly called “English.”

What is “Return to Amish” all about?

A few months after the TLC cable network decided not to renew “Breaking Amish,” some of its executives thought that the TV show had a concept which needed more exploration. The series was criticized for not having realistic storylines, which prompted the network to address the controversies. While it was reported that the producers confessed that they had somehow bent the truth a little bit to fit a certain narrative, the majority of viewers continued to be fascinated with the struggles of the Amish and Mennonite believers in breaking out, going “English.” 

Television Debut in 2014

Due to the ongoing fascination with the Amish, the TLC network launched another reality-TV show called “Return to Amish”, which premiered on 22 May 2014, and was a continuation of those who explored the “English” world in the original series, what had happened to them. Some tried to return to their Amish community, while others decided to stay “English” permanently. The show also introduced new cast members each season, and featured their adventures from the day they left their homes, tried the “English” lifestyle, and up to the day they made their probably final decision – if the change was going to be permanent, or would just consider the experience as an experiment.

Six seasons and counting

Since the reality-TV show’s inception, it’s aired 49 episodes in the span of seven years divided into six seasons. “Return to Amish” fans began to worry after the final episode of the sixth season was aired on 24 June 2021, as there was no official announcement that it had been renewed by the TLC network, or indeed cancelled. They breathed a sigh of relief when one of the main cast members, Jeremiah Raber, reportedly told some of the fans on his Instagram account that another season had already been filmed. All that they were waiting for was the cable network’s announcement of the premiere date for the seventh season. 

Get to know Maureen Byler

Longtime fans of the TV show would easily recall Maureen Byler as one of its recurring cast members of “Breaking Amish”. She’s the granddaughter of Ada Byler and the cousin of Sabrina Burkholder, who both left the tight-knit community of the Amish in Punxsutawney, Philadelphia. She was born in Clintonville, and was raised by her parents following the beliefs and practices of the Christian group called the Old Order Amish Mennonite Church. They are best known to only clothe themselves in plain style; the girls were only allowed to wear dresses in gray or black, having hemlines of not more than six inches above their ankles. They wear bonnets and stockings, which are fastened with snaps or pins. Their homes don’t have modern facilities or electricity, which are deemed a portal for temptations. With regards to transportation, most of them only ride bicycles and horse-drawn buggies, but in some cases, they don’t have any choice but to ride communal vehicles such as buses and trains. 

Maureen was introduced as a school teacher in the opening episode of the sixth season. Due to the nature of the Amish, some believed she was an informal teacher, who hadn’t taken a board licensure exam because one had to earn a college degree for that. Most of the Amish people had only been taught up to eighth grade, which was considered adequate according to a Supreme Court ruling of 1972. The show didn’t provide any other specific details about Maureen’s family.

Maureen Byler’s journey in “Return to Amish”

In “Return to Amish,” Maureen Byler left the Amish community along with her best friend Rosanna Miller. Both were excited about the wonders that awaited them in the outside world, but also nervous about the possible consequences of their decision. It was a well-known fact that the Amish practiced shunning, a form of social avoidance or what most people know as being ostracized inside a group, or conversely in the “English” world, anti-social. When an Amish person violated the daily living rules or abandoned the teachings of their faith, he or she would be shunned by the community. They would find themselves doing things separately, and family ties ceased to exist.

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In other religions, the sacrament of Baptism is mostly given to infants, but in the Amish community, it was usually deferred until between the ages of 18 to 22. Before they are baptized, they are allowed some freedom to experience the “English” world. Most of them are encouraged to explore and experiment so they can decide if they wanted to go back to their Amish lifestyle, or permanently leave the community. Maureen was 19 years old while her friend Rosanna was 18 when they decided to go to Florida.

The reason she left her Amish home

Maureen said that the Amish life wasn’t for everyone. She said she loved being a school teacher, and would miss her students when she leaves. She believed she was always being judged by others in her community due to her physical appearance. Growing up, she was never skinny like the others, but had always been chubby. Two of her ultimate dreams were to drive a car and be a seamstress, but felt that there were so many other things that the world has to offer too, and she wouldn’t be able to do any of them if she was still Amish. Having a huge crush on a former Amish boy named Daniel contributed to her decision to leave her community.

To Leave Or Not To Leave | Return To Amish

Maureen opens up to Danny about leaving the Amish world…😯Catch it all on a new episode of #ReturnToAmish tonight at 9/8c.

Posted by Breaking Amish on Monday, May 17, 2021

The day Maureen told her parents of her decision

The reality-TV teens in “Return to Amish” were resolute in their decision to leave their homes, but both were quite hesitant to tell their parents, especially Maureen, as she had several fear about what would happen. One of them was that her former students would think she was a bad girl because she preferred the “English” world. Another one was that she was afraid that her parents would get into trouble with their Church, as they would think that her parents were so horrible because she’d left them, but especially worried that her parents wouldn’t understand her.

When she told her parents that she was going to be with her grandma Ada in Florida, her father said, ‘Why would you do something dumb and stupid?’ He reminded her how their community felt about her grandmother, and asked her if she wanted to be talked about like that as well. Her mother told her that she would get homesick especially when she realized that the world out there wasn’t what she expected it to be, but Maureen told them that she wanted to explore what it was all about once and for all. Her father finally said, ‘If you leave, don’t worry about coming back.’ Even if she already suspected that she wouldn’t get any support from them, she still cried after their conversation.

The day she left her Amish home and was rejected at the airport

While both Maureen and her friend were excited to explore a new world, they were also anxious to leave everything they had known all their lives. Her nervousness, however, was diminished by just the presence of Daniel, the boy she had a major crush on since she was a little kid, and who apparently felt the same way towards her. He was a former Amish who had been working as a taxi driver ever since he left the community. He took them to the airport, and Daniel reminded them that they had to wear a mask; both girls were not aware that it was required since they never really had information about Covid-19 regulations. Unfortunately, they couldn’t buy airline tickets because they didn’t have any identification cards – “Return to Amish” viewers were shocked to learn that Amish people weren’t allowed to have their photos taken. The only things they carried with them for identification were their birth certificate and social security number. They called Daniel again to drive them to Florida.

She stayed in Sarasota, Florida with her grandmother

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Maureen’s grandmother Ada, along with former Amish couples in Sarasota, welcomed them with open arms. Ada claimed that she liked being Amish, but that she liked “English” money better. She used to have a donut business, but she closed it down temporarily after having problems with her workers. During the Covid-19 pandemic, she and some of the original cast members decided to ride it out in Florida, since the Covid-19 cases in the area weren’t as bad at that time compared to other places. She had a house there because there was a small Amish community in Sarasota near the beach; it was considered a top vacation spot for the Amish. 

Had a misunderstanding with Rosanna involving Daniel

As teenagers, both Maureen and Rosanna were susceptible to little fights over many things, especially about boys; they tended to say something that they both later regretted. When they went out with Daniel for a dip in the river on their way to Florida, Rosanna inadvertently exposed herself to him when she lifted her skirt high enough for him to see her private part – Maureen saw that and didn’t like it. Sometime later, Maureen related the incident to Ada and Sabrina, who was Rosanna’s cousin. They both scolded Rosanna and advised her that it was inappropriate to expose oneself, especially to someone else’s man. Rosanna said it wasn’t intentional, and she hated Maureen for involving other people in their business. She even accused Maureen of purposely destroying her relationship with her cousin. Eventually they patched things up, and Ada defused the tension by taking them shopping in a clothing boutique.

Ada takes Maureen and Rosanna to the ocean for the first time in their lives. They get so excited about jumping into the sea that they decide to do parasailing! #ReturnToAmish

Ada takes Maureen and Rosanna to the ocean for the first time in their lives. They get so excited about jumping into the sea that they decide to do parasailing! #ReturnToAmish

Posted by tlc uk on Friday, February 4, 2022

Bought swimsuits for the first time

One of the first few things Maureen and Rosanna did in Florida was to have fun on the beach, which they could only dream about in the past. They tried para-sailing, and were in awe of everything they saw there. Those scenes received great feedback from the “Return to Amish” viewers online, as fans were delighted to see the Amish girls enjoy the perks of the “English” world for the first time. Ada accompanied them to shop for a swimsuit to enjoy the beach fully, and Maureen was surprised by the skimpy costumes displayed on the racks. She rejected a two-piece swimsuit as she wasn’t that ready yet to show a lot of skin, choosing a one-piece suit which she used when they next went for a swim.

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Went out on a group date 

To ensure that the girls enjoyed their time outside their Amish community, they were invited to a group date in which they met girls and boys their age. While Rosanna was entertained by a possible suitor, Maureen only talked about Daniel to the group; she was very forthcoming about being in a relationship with him. She enjoyed going out and trying new things, but she was loyal to Daniel, and spent all her free time talking over the phone with him. 

An “English Makeover” for Maureen

One of the most awaited moments in “Return to Amish” was the “English” makeover of the Amish girls; there was a small get-together, some sort of a coming-out party for Maureen and Rosanna. It was the first time that Maureen had discarded her Amish dress, shoes, stockings, and bonnet. She purposely chose a colorful, stylish short dress that showed some skin, and partnered it with a pair of fashionable heeled shoes. She had a new hairstyle and had makeup on, which enhanced her features. Everyone could tell that she loved her new style because she glowed that night, as described by their friends.

Daniel proposed to Maureen

Before the sixth season ended, Daniel proposed to Maureen. She said yes because it was what she wished for, hoped for, and dared to dream of for many years. None were surprised by this, as it was quite obvious that the two had feelings for each other. She was totally in love with him, even if he had scars on his face. When he was 18 months old, he accidentally drank Drano, a liquid drain cleaner, which damaged his teeth and gums. Doctors wanted to perform plastic surgery on him, but his family didn’t allow it since they believed it happened because God allowed it to happen. Maureen didn’t want him to change because it didn’t bother her at all. She said that he was the sweetest as he always looked out for her, and made sure she could call on him anytime. She also said that she could leave the Amish community for him.

Maureen Byler 2022 update

Loyal viewers of “Return to Amish” were excited about the new season to air in 2022, wanting to know if Maureen and her friend went “English” all the way. It was quite unfortunate that when she returned home to Clintonville, Pennsylvania to tell her parents of her final decision of living “English,” she wasn’t as lucky as Rosanna in having supportive parents. Her mother told her that she was just like her biological father, who had left them when she was only three years old. Fortunately, her grandmother was there to console her, and said she would be there for her. In April 2022, Maureen posted on her Instagram account a photo of her two-month-old baby girl.

Allegations about the authenticity of her story and the show

Many theories were discussed on social media about what had happened to Maureen – there were allegations that it wasn’t her first time experiencing the “English” lifestyle, as depicted in the sixth season of “Return to Amish.” Some fans alleged that she was already out of the Amish community for some time before it was filmed. When the TV producers somehow admitted that they made some adjustments to fit a certain narrative that they wanted to show, it affirmed some of the fan’s suspicions. Apparently, some of Ada’s photos posted on her social media showed Danny and Maureen being together since 2017. Based on the photos, they were all out of their Amish clothing, and living “English” way back then.

Some fans were disappointed with the TLC network for the misleading presentation, but others said that Maureen’s story might have been real, and that what was shown on TV was just a reenactment. The timeline on the show confused some of its viewers, or it could have been due to poor editing. Most of the fans forget that they couldn’t film some of the scenes in real-time, so generally it can still be considered a reality show because the people and their stories were real. 

In May 2021, Maureen had posted on her social media account, ‘I haven’t been texting back to the ppl that have been asking many questions. But I live a very simple and peaceful life!’ The reason for that could simply be that she signed a non-disclosure contract with TLC.

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