Our Youth Are Leaving the Church

Several years ago, I was sitting in a diocesan youth-ministry meet­ing. These monthly meetings were supposed to be for professional development. I can’t say I got a whole lot out of them, but the free lunch was always delicious, so I would usually go if I didn’t have anything more important to do.

At this meeting, the diocesan director told all the youth-ministry professionals that there would be an anniversary celebration for the diocese in the next year and that, as part of the celebration, we would have an event for the youth. I was excited about the prospect until I heard what we were doing: “We’re going to have a walk-a-thon, with all of the teens walking down the main avenue of our city and raising money for a Catholic Charities after-school program.”

This didn’t sound like a good idea to me. Not only would the teens have to raise money for the diocese, but it was for a cause to which they had no strong commitment. I wondered how I was going to get teens excited to participate in this event.

How Did They Convince Them?

A year later, when the event took place, I found the answer to my question. How did the diocese get the youth to attend? They mandated that every Catholic-school student participate — ensuring that well over a thousand students were there. Parish youth ministries enticed teenagers to attend by promising them service hours as part of their preparation for Confirmation. There were thousands of young people at the event, and they raised more than ten thousand dollars for Catholic Charities.

But it wasn’t an event for youth. It was a public-relations stunt. The diocese got great publicity because of the event, and one of their ministries received much-needed funding from it.

There were thousands of Catholic teens in one place, celebrating being Catholic — except that they had no choice but to show up. They were at the event not because they were disciples of Jesus Christ who wanted to share their Faith with others but because they were required to be there.

This event typifies Catholic youth ministry in America: we are good at getting young people to participate. Our programs, events, and ministries do a good job — perhaps better than any other denomination in the world — at getting teens in the door.

This article is a preview from The Art of Forming Young Disciples. Click image to preview or order.

Thousands of young Catholics attend World Youth Day every three years. Hundreds of thousands of teenagers in the United States attend Catholic youth conferences, mission trips, work camps, and Catholic camps. Hundreds of thousands are enrolled in Catholic youth programs in parishes every year (mostly for sacramental preparation).

To be fair, many of these events are excellent, with much bet­ter intentions than the diocesan walk-a-thon that I mentioned. But is participation alone a good indicator of success? Do we really have many, many young people who are being formed in Catholicism, ensuring the passing on of our Faith for genera­tions to come?

Unfortunately, if we look just a little past the surface, the news is not good. In fact, Catholic youth ministry is a catastrophe.

Catholic Youth Ministry Is Not Working

Nearly half of the “cradle Catholics” who become unaffiliated are gone by age eighteen. Seventy-nine percent are gone by age twenty-three. When a soul walks away from the Church, that soul usually leaves when it is young.

Dynamic Catholic states that 85 percent of Catholic young adults stop practicing their Faith in college (most of them within their first year of leaving home). Curtis Martin, the founder of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) thinks that 85 percent is conservative, and that the Catholic Church is losing more than 90 percent of Catholic young people by the end of their college years.

This data isn’t new. One can look at Dr. Christian Smith’s Soul Searching study from 2005 and see the same negative trends. In the 1990s, Mark DeVries of Ministry Architects tried to sound the alarm in evangelical churches that Christian youth were leaving those churches, too. The data has demonstrated the hemorrhaging for quite some time.

Recently I attended the expo of a large youth-ministry training conference. There were booths selling all kinds of resources and services for youth ministry: video resources, textbooks, parish programs, and youth-ministry books. There were recruiters for certification programs for youth ministry and for undergraduate and graduate degrees from major universities. There were booths with information about youth camps, conferences, mission trips, work camps, retreat centers, and events of every kind offered all over the country. There were speakers, musicians, and entertainers. There was Catholic music played everywhere, T-shirts for sale, and apps for iPhones. If you could think of it, it was there.

As I walked around the expo, one thought occurred to me: if we are losing our young people in the Church today, it isn’t due to lack of effort. Nor is it due to a lack of good resources and programs. In fact, I really liked a lot of the products and services I saw offered at the expo. Lack of effort is not the problem.

Between the millions of dollars that the Church has invested in Catholic secondary education, and the time, talent, and treasure invested in youth ministry, young people get more attention from the Catholic Church than does any other ministry or demographic. Why is there so little return on that investment? More importantly, why is the Church failing to make young disciples?

Understanding Discipleship

One year, while I was a youth minister working in a parish, the parish hosted a mission intended to help Catholics dive deeper into Scripture. At the Sunday Masses, the speaker encouraged all the parishioners to come to his presentation on Monday night and to bring their Bibles. I took a handful of the teens in my youth ministry to the presentation. They all brought their Bibles, and we sat in the front row.

The speaker started the presentation by asking everyone to open their Bibles to a certain verse in the book of Leviticus. Vir­tually every adult sitting around us struggled simply to find the book in his Bible. I looked at my row of teens. Not only did they all have their Bibles open to the correct verse, but I noticed that every single one of the teens’ Bibles was littered with handwrit­ten notes, highlights, underlined verses, and sticky notes. All of their Bibles were worn and weathered because the teens had been reading and studying their Bibles.

In fact, their Bibles looked a lot like mine.

This is a simple example that demonstrates discipleship: the disciple imitates the rabbi.

I believe discipleship is marked by three characteristics: it is a process, it is an apprenticeship, and it involves practicing discipline.

Discipleship is a process

Much within our faith life operates as a process. We don’t receive all the sacraments at once: they are conferred on us over the course of our lives. In the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), a person goes through the stages of pre-evangelization, evangelization, conversion, catechesis, initiation, and mystagogia as he is initiated into the Catholic Faith.

In her book Forming Intentional Disciples, Sherry Weddell says that we need to return to our understanding of disciple making. She speaks of the five thresholds a person passes as he grows into intentional discipleship of Jesus Christ. The five thresholds are:

  • Initial trust: A person is not practicing Catholicism, but has a positive association with Jesus Christ, His Church, the Blessed Virgin Mary, a person in the Church, or some­thing else related to the Catholic Faith.
  • Spiritual curiosity: A person is intrigued by Jesus Christ and desires to know more about Him and His Church but is not yet at a level of openness to life change.
  • Spiritual openness: A person acknowledges to himself and to God that he is open to the possibility of personal and spiritual change (also known as conversion), but there is no commitment yet.
  • Spiritual seeking: A person actively seeks to know the God who is calling him. He seeks to know and under­stand Christ and His Church.
  • Intentional disciple: A person makes the decision to drop everything and follow Jesus.

Discipleship doesn’t happen in an instant: it’s an ongoing process in life.

Discipleship is an apprenticeship

In the days of Jesus, the word discipleship was used to describe the relationship between a student and a rabbi. As a young Jew grew up, he graduated from school to school. At the end of his classroom education, he moved into the household of a rabbi, to live with him and learn from his way of life. When the student was old enough, the rabbi would either extend an invitation to him to “come after me” or tell him to “go and learn the trade of your father.”

This is why Jesus extends the invitation to Peter, James, An­drew, and John to come and follow Him. They were plying the trade of their father; their opportunity to become disciples of another rabbi had come and gone, and they hadn’t been cho­sen. Jesus, the greatest rabbi ever, gave each of these apostles a second chance.

As a disciple lived with a rabbi to learn from his daily ex­ample, so the apostles learned from the words of Jesus — from His words, yes, but even more from His manner of praying, the way He handled difficult situations, His daily routines, and His example. They knew Him intimately, and after He ascended into Heaven, they imitated His practices as the Church was born.

Discipleship is not discipleship without mentoring. A disciple must first be inspired to follow the rabbi and then be impacted by his living example. In discipleship, the Faith is not taught; it is caught. It is experiential in nature: the disciple learns by following the example of the rabbi.

Disciples practice disciplines

The words disciple and discipline come from the Latin word discere, “to learn.” A disciple learns to be a disciplined person in everyday life. This means that disciples practice habits, and those habits lead to deeper conversion.

Most importantly, these practiced disciplines lead to a personal relationship with Christ — a relationship in which the disciple makes Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior of his life.

If a young person becomes a lifelong follower of Christ, the following habits will likely be visible in his life: regular visits to the Blessed Sacrament; weekly or even daily Mass attendance; daily prayer, including the Rosary; reading and studying Scripture; intentional growth in virtue and service; and tithing. This is what we want — to form our young people into lifelong followers of Jesus Christ and His Church through the process of discipleship.

Sounds simple, right?

The Crux of the Problem

Most people agree that there’s a problem with youth ministry in the Church today, but there’s very little consensus about what that problem is. Ask a person associated with the Church why youth ministry is struggling, and you will likely hear responses I have heard many times:

  • A pastor will say that he lacks the funds necessary to hire a capable youth minister.
  • A pastor will say that he can’t find or keep a qualified youth minister.
  • A youth minister will say that her pastor is not supportive.
  • A parent will say that her teen doesn’t like the youth group and doesn’t connect with the youth minister.
  • A youth minister will complain that parents are dis­engaged and aren’t supportive of their teenagers’ faith.
  • A parent will complain that the Catholic school isn’t doing a good job teaching the core doctrines of the Faith.
  • A Catholic-school teacher will complain that parents are not modeling the Faith for their children at home.
  • A parent will complain that the church youth group or religious-education program is little more than stale pizza, lame entertainment, and a boring curriculum.
  • A parent will state that he is waiting for the pastor to fire the middle-aged DRE who is underqualified for work­ing with young people and out-of-touch with modern methods of ministry.
  • A diocesan director will observe that parish leadership lacks vision, so that teens end up planning their own ministry, or pastors and youth leaders end up pinning their hope of success on the latest program and resources.
  • A bishop will observe that youth-ministry events in his diocese are all hype, flash, and entertainment, and no substance.
  • A teenager will complain that the Church doesn’t un­derstand teens and that their questions about God and faith aren’t being answered.

Any one of these statements may be true, but not a single one of them correctly identifies the problem in the Church today.

These are symptoms of a greater problem: we don’t understand young people and how to meet their most basic needs. If we don’t understand the problem, we can never hope to solve it.

The best summary of youth ministry in our Church today comes from Pope Francis in his first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. He says:

Youth ministry, as traditionally organized, has also suffered the impact of social changes. Young people often fail to find responses to their concerns, needs, problems, and hurts in the usual structures. As adults, we find it hard to listen patiently to them, to appreciate their concerns, demands, and to speak to them in a language they can understand. For the same reason, our efforts in the field of education do not produce the results expected.

The structures our Church uses to minister to young people are not meeting their basic needs, and because of this, our young people are failing to become disciples. It’s not enough to have the best resources money can buy — a youth minister, a Catholic school — or to be catechizing a large number of teens. The landscape of youth culture is changing, but the Church has not adapted to these changes. In fact, in some cases, parishes are implementing approaches to youth formation that haven’t been updated in more than four hundred years.

Our Church is facing a crisis — we are hemorrhaging young people. For decades, the Church has been talking of a New Evan­gelization — a kind of new birth or revolution of the gospel in the Church. But no major revolution in the world has ever thrived without a youth movement. The Church cannot reinvigorate her members so long as her young people are uninspired.

Editor’s note: This article is a special preview of The Art of Forming Young Disciples, courtesy of Sophia Institute Press

Everett Fritz


Everett Fritz is the founder and Executive Director of St. Andrew Missionaries. Everett holds an MA in Theology from the Augustine Institute and a BA in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. He authored the best selling book, Freedom: Battle Strategies for Conquering Temptation - a guide for young men trapped in the shackles of sexual sin. Everett regularly speaks on the topics of discipleship, youth evangelization and chastity. Everett and his wife Katrina reside in Denver, Colorado with their children.

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  • OutsideTheGate

    It so refreshing to see a book on discipleship in the Catholic Sphere!

    But I am seeing quite a bit of growth in the young in some parishes. However, unlike my fellow Catholics who are getting excited, it gives me great concern, as the ones I know are nearly all neurotic, and their ‘devotion’ is more scrupulous and superstitious (Gnostic), and a form of escapism from their emotional trauma, than anything Christian.

    The ones I know are typically YAVIS who mistake their taste for high culture as devotion (i.e., the Latin Mass), and fit the profile of the research I did 30 years ago of having Religious Mania, like Charismatics and Pentecostals and, if not, Pietism (going to parachurch events and conferences to get their fix as they consider their local parish as ‘dead’).

    They fit more cult-like personality profiles, or like the pre-healed Gerasene Demoniac, than anyone in their right mind as the result of meeting with Christ.

    Like, for example, the videos of ‘Steubenville Conferences’ on YouTube where, every time Fr Mike Schmitz or Chris Stefanick end a sentence, the girls scream, like girls did at the Beatles in the 1960s. That’s Cult of Personality, not Christian.

    Their incoherence can be seen, for example, in their ‘love-ins’ they call ‘Eucharistic Adoration’ where they sway with arms raised to sentimental, gushy, guitar music, and where they weep and get hysterical. Yet, when it comes to the Mass, they scream blue murder if someone suggests guitars or raising their hands…

    If it was not the same Jesus in the monstrance at their Eucharistic Adoration as the one at Mass, then I could understand the disconnect, but if guitars and handwaving, etc., are explicitly wrong in Mass – as they argue, and will even get quite nasty towards those who disagree – then handwaving and general histrionics must be at Eucharistic Adoration, too, but they don’t seem to make that connection.

    It’s so obviously more psychological dysfunction and sociological phenomena than anything genuinely spiritual, or else there would not be that disjunction. Durkheim comes to mind far more than any of the great writers in the Tradition regarding Spirituality. It’s certainly ritualistic, but only in the same sense as fads form specific behaviours in their devotees.

    Another example of the problem is the Toronto Blessing phenomenon. People did not experience it unless they knew what it was. it didn’t pop up all over the world by itself: you had to have heard of it. If it was the Spirit, you wouldn’t expect it to start with one person, and it only happen to those who have had contact with that person.

    It’s a bit like the Pentecostal Thing relied upon the Azusa Street phenomenon spreading for it to happen.

    For me, any so-called ‘movement of the Spirit’ which relies on knowledge of it, to have it, is false. Surely a true working of the Spirit will happen, by surprise, and all over the place, not it relying in one place and always with people who come across as showing classic signs of being susceptible to emotionalism and hysteria?

    To me, these ‘Eucharistic Adorations’ are just the contemporary, and parallel, form of what people term ‘Clown Masses’. The irony is that the photos and videos of these ‘Clown Masses’ I’ve seen, were actually at Episcopalian events…

  • Bernardo Cynthia

    I also observed that with the youth. I think, instead of too much forum, talks and talks, the youth is more interested in getting into active participation in Praise Concerts and activities that stimulates their minds. Well, the process is taken cared of the Lord! So why not praise Him more so that He will touch the hearts of these youth more and the Holy Spirit is active and alive. More of Bible study groups, too but do not make it boring and bland. Well, these are only my opinion, but I really thought about it through prayer to the Most High!

  • John Palmer

    Youth aren’t inspired? I tend to think they are confused. It’s all the mixed messages. It’s a lack of leadership from fathers. If they are lucky, their parents take them to Church on Sundays. They get one hour a week with the Lord, usually celebrated in a Post-Vatican II Protestantized Mass, and then spend the rest of the week immersed in the secular atheist culture of Hollywood, Social Media, and school. And, if the parents don’t have a spiritual and prayerful home life, what message does that send? How often does the family go to Reconciliation together? Do the parents encourage the reading of Scriptures and Saint stories? Do they set the example? Is there a family rosary at least once a week? In other words, “When the family is outside of Mass, do they act like Catholics or secular atheists?”

  • Mary Carter

    Find a. Traditional Latin Mass parish and go there. Our parish is filled to the brim with 4 Masses on Sunday and well attended weekdays. At 79 years of age I am in the minority. These young people are learning more than the Catechism, they are learning respect, discipline and love. Something parents do not bother to teach these days. What the result of that is seen in these terribly miserable young people who cannot cope with the world, and are out of control. The youth in my parish are like no others that we deal with in the real world. Somebody do something before it is too late.

  • Larry Bud

    Pardon me for using a tremendous over-simplification, but it seems to me that there are two types of Catholics.

    One type is the type who read and highlight their bibles, who attend retreats and praise-and-worship events, who attend the U. of Steubenville and (instead of becoming sorely needed priests or nuns) take jobs as “youth ministers” or in “Catholic media” and such.

    The other type is “the rest of us” who have balance in our lives and are not nearly as over-the-top about “church”. We’re the ones who are leaving in droves (young AND old) because there are no longer any reasons to stay active in our parishes. The social activities that our parents and grandparents attended like CYO, Sunday picnics and weekend carnivals, all went by the wayside at least a generation ago. IF our parishes have any activities at all, it’s the stuff I mentioned in the previous paragraph – stuff that we would NEVER attend, never in a million years.

    “Discipleship”? No, bring back the CYO instead. Then you’ll see the young people return. Otherwise, the cause is lost. The “Church of Steubenville” is a massive failure. It’s causing the final leg of collapse in our dioceses and our parishes.

  • Librarian50

    Look, once young people leave high school they don’t want to hang around the parish anymore. They don’t want to hang out with OLD people. Whether working or going to school they spend Friday and Saturday nights partying, clubbing, hanging out with their friends. Sunday mornings they’re in bed recuperating and getting ready for Monday. Newman Centers know this.
    Here is the weekend Mass schedule at Arizona State U. Newman Center:
    Sat 4:00 p.m. (Leaving Saturday night to go out with friends) Sun. 9 am, 11 am, 1:00 pm, 7: pm, 9:00 p.m (THE LAST CALL MASS)
    DAILY Masses are held Mon. thru Thur at 12 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
    Weekly Bible studies And a full-time staff qualified to relate to young adults. Can’t work in a parish, right? Maybe we need to stop investing all of our resources in parishes and try something new? The very small percentage of people who work and volunteer in parishes are happy with things as they are. Don’t expect radical change from them. When I was a teenager I hardly ever went to my parish Mass. I volunteered at the hospital on Sunday morning and went to Mass at the hospital chapel. Mass over in 30 minutes. Perfect for me. Later I went to Mass at the Franciscan Renewal Center (not a parish). It was a valley wide gathering place for young singles.Best thing was there was hardly any old people and the young people ran everything. I hardly ever went to confession because I had to work every Saturday until 5:30 p.m. Confessions were heard only on Saturday between 3 and 5 pm. This is true of most of the parishes in Phoenix. How stupid is that?

  • Michael Dowd

    Recommended action plan:
    –Return to the Tridentine Mass, i.e., Catholicism is serious business, not a feel good sing-along.
    –Admit that Vatican II was a catastrophe for the Church and needs to be abrogated in its entirety.

  • This is a telling paragraph: “There were booths selling all kinds of resources and services for youth ministry: video resources, textbooks, parish programs, and youth-ministry books. There were recruiters for certification programs for youth ministry and for undergraduate and graduate degrees from major universities. There were booths with information about youth camps, conferences, mission trips, work camps, retreat centers, and events of every kind offered all over the country. There were speakers, musicians, and entertainers. There was Catholic music played everywhere, T-shirts for sale, and apps for iPhones. If you could think of it, it was there.”

    That is called marketing. Our youth, and in fact most all of us, youth or not, have been marketed to our whole lives. We know what that is about. We are being sold something. We are being viewed as consumers. Sometimes people don’t want resources, and they certainly will walk away from anything that sees them as consumers unless that thing is “cool,” which the Church most definitely is not. And they eventually will realize they need something deeper. Your focus on making disciples is the key, for it is about encounter and not programs or t-shirts or another book — all of which, of course, have there place, but all are forms of doing a lot of work except the harder and richer work of encounter. In that sense all that work can too easily become a kind of avoidance while feeling good about oneself.

    I also believe they, as do we all, want truth, goodness, and beauty, and real, visceral, authentic worship of our Lord, all of which they will find more likely at a Traditional Latin Mass. The TLM is, in fact, a more proper and more human tool of discipleship than the new Mass. It speaks most fundamentally to what we long for in our souls. This is why it is the youth who are leading the way in bringing back the TLM. Thus it also supports other discipleship activities better.

  • James

    Youth ministry usually involves doing what the thirty-something youth minister thought was cool twenty years ago.

  • James

    You make good points.

    I live in a college town that is home to a state university in a Power 5 conference. My parish, the only one in town, also ministers to the campus.

    What I have noticed in the past 20 years is that the students are far more devout (at least publicly) than they used to be, but there are far fewer of them who show up to mass or Catholic Student Association. This intensity can be intimidating to the casual Catholic and can push people away. The Church becomes less “here comes everybody” universal and more of a lifestyle choice, like veganism.

    The “Church of Steubenville” was an unfortunate attempt of Catholics to try to emulate Evangelical Protestant youth ministry. Knowing plenty of people who grew up in these churches, what looked so successful in the 1990s has not aged well.

  • James

    The appeal of the Latin Mass to the young is probably because it isn’t B.S. church marketing. It is neither the “contemporary” mass of their Boomer grandparents nor the praise bands and professional “youth church” of their Gen X parents.

  • James

    In the United States, the majority of self-identified Catholics under 50 are of Latin American heritage.

    Catholicism is deeply embedded in the culture of Latin America in a way that in never was in the United States or in British occupied Ireland. (There were no fiestas in Ireland.) Whatever we Anglos think is good or bad probably won’t be terribly relevant to the majority of young Catholics.

  • Pax

    your statics are possibly suffering from a slight problem.
    One question to be asked would be ‘of the youths who leave the faith what percentage of them actually participated in youth ministry’.

    Another question to ask is ‘of the youth that leave the faith what percentage of them had parents who : went to weekly mass and actually made the faith important in their homes by other practices, like regular prayer and saying the rosary.

    I’d add a third question: what percentage that leave the faith attended public school and public college. Public school and public college over the past 50 year have been studied crafted and modified to make people question and or leave their faith. Unfortunately even many ‘catholic’ schools have bought the program.

    I would suspect the number of children who leave the faith , who are members of families that practice the faith and attend catholic school is till appalling because of the culture we are immersed in, however I’d also suspect it is more like 30%. God is purifying his bride, unless we can get the ‘people in the pews’ to care more about coming to mass then the super bowl, we can expect the bleeding to continue. Luckily many people do return and we have a high rate of converts as well.

  • Kathy

    Exactly! I did not take my children to mass with devotion in my heart. We emphasized studying , sports, and sleeping in. I took my children out of the pews to participate in the children’s liturgy instead of trusting in their intellect and requesting a few minutes of self discipline. If we don’t authentically live the faith when we leave mass , our kids will not believe. I know every circumstance varies but if we are honest we thought we could hand down a faith, but it has to be lived. God is in control and He builds the church but now we have some praying and repairing and authentic living to do.

  • Julia

    I left the Catholic Church right around the time of college. I mainly stuck through it and PSR for my family’s sake. But for reasons that aren’t touched on here.
    I was told by a PSR teacher that if I wasn’t baptized in the Catholic Church, then I wasn’t going to heaven. When I started questioning things such as this, I was met with people acting like I was questioning God. God forbid I question the Catholic Church. I started asking myself if I really believed that other Christians or really good people in general weren’t going to make it to heaven. When it came down to it, I don’t think Jesus is going to ask me at the pearly gates if I was Catholic or not. I think the question will be more like were you a good person.

    So when I started questioning, people got upset. And the more I questioned, the more I didn’t like the feeling of closed, prescribed religion. I started visiting other denominations and liked some better. Those who were open and welcoming. Opening discussed my questions. Those who focused on loving and serving one another instead of having to follow xyz ritual etc.

    The main point that turned me off from the Catholic Church was when I told my family I didn’t want to be Catholic anymore. My uncle asked me if I was being possessed by the devil. my grandpa wrote me and talked to me countless times as if I killed his first born. And my aunt literally screamed at me. And more… It was actually a bit traumatic trying to leave the Catholic Church. Still to this day it’s hard to think back on that time. And that was all from people who are supposed to love one another…

    So what does it really come down to in my case? The close mindedness. I do have hope though. Ive seen a few things the new pope has said that is truly hopeful.

  • Linda Almaraz

    The fact that you are responding to this article reveals you are looking to be engaged with the Way, the Truth and Life. The future Apostle Andrew saw Jesus and started following him. Jesus asked him,”What do you seek? Andrew responded, “where are you staying?” Jesus replied, “Come and see”.
    All of us are in a journey through time and space and we are seeking something although it may not be apparent to you. So where is Jesus and how do you find where he is staying? The journey does not just involved your physical self which is the starting point, but also your spiritual self. Because human have a spiritual nature besides their physical existence, they have it within themselves to seek and find because Jesus’s response is always “Come and see”. It begins with a sincere prayerful life..

  • Linda Almaraz

    Holiness is what is relevant and attractive to both groups of young Latins and Anglos. We need visible “Saints”. Authentic Catholicism is the best way to produce the Saints that will bring the youth back to the Church.

  • Wesley Nichols

    I agree, I don’t see the college age people at our parish abandoning the faith, I see them getting married, having children, and staying Catholic.

  • Wesley Nichols

    And that somehow being 17-22 isn’t somehow ENTIRELY different because it is the current year than it ever was before and those people need some ENTIRELY new way of engaging with the faith.

    Maybe what they need is a class in Scholastic philosophy?

  • Wesley Nichols

    You are missing the third type, the type that carry a 1962 missal and have a veil in their purse, and who don’t consider there to be such a thing as “over the top”, just a heaven and hell.

  • Michael Dowd

    Maybe they need something that makes sense in the real world and doesn’t sound like Mr. Rogers.

  • When I started interacting directly with God through Christ according to Scripture, I found my Christian path that made sense to me. Before that, when the focus was on the organization, it had no transforming effect on me. Scripture taught me to cast all of my care on the Lord and to be anxious for nothing (see 1Peter 5:5-7 and Philippians 4:6-7). When I did this, everything else fell into place.

  • Larry Bud

    I’m sure you don’t see the irony dripping from your response. Your spew of bible verses has no relevance to the question. Parishes have stopped acting like “communities” and people leave them because no one cares – at all – if they stay. They hold retreats and it doesn’t matter that only 3 people showed up, as long as they can check the box on the form from the Diocese requiring a retreat. There’s no check box for a parish carnival (where people have to volunteer and interact socially, making friendships, forming couples, teaching children by setting an example, etc.), because the people with Theology degrees that run dioceses and parishes now would have no idea what a parish carnival even is, or why it was so important.

    The number of “pre-1962” responders is kind of a hoot, too.

  • Pax

    Parishes have stopped acting like “communities” and people leave them because no one cares – at all – if they stay.

    Well, maybe that is half of the problem, if people are showing up to the church because they want community , instead of showing up because they want a relationship with Jesus they are coming for all the wrong reasons.

    Does the fact you are part of a catholic community stop you from using birth control? Does it stop you from stealing , committing murder, or having an abortion? Does it motivate you to volunteer to feed the homeless or even help you next door neighbor. I hope not.

    A person needs to live a life that is integrated based from a center of belief that is much deeper then any exterior trappings at a given parish.

    That is not to say that brotherly love and community don’t have a place. I’ve never been to a parish without a parish carnival, a fish fry and a KOC for good reason. Those things help us to see Christ in one another and to provide a support group when people feel isolated. However, if people are showing up to them looking for a support group , they are better off at the YMCA or the local church at a movie theater. That’s not what Christianity and Catholicism is or should be about. That’s not how it became a dormant world force.

    It is a force because it is based on a relationship with the God-man who is truth itself, because it is true and real regardless of what type of sins exist and who commits them.

    I’m sorry I don’t know anyone who would suffer crucifixion for there drinking buddies , but I do know 10 men who suffered martyrdom for their king and master.

    Most people I know who have left the church leave it because of the sins of the congregation , because of the hypocrisy of ‘church
    people’. Not because they can’t find good opportunities to hang out with people they like.

  • Pax

    The church of today, especially in “post-christian” america, must be a life style choice. It is about living authentically what a person believes to be true, if it isn’t about that why would you bother to show up at all.

  • Pax

    so then naturally you also wanted to be obedient to Jesus’s command by submitting to the single church he created and granted the authority to solve any disputes about what the scripture means (Matthew 18:17)

  • Larry Bud

    You have twisted my words. I never said “people are showing up to the church because they want community”. But a lack of community is surely among the reasons that people are drifting away.

  • I use Scripture to form my conscience because it regulates everything in Christianity (Vatican II’s Dei Verbum 21). If something appears to be unclear to me I research it further.

  • Pax

    Yes but in the end you are not wise enough or educated enough to know scripture better then those who wrote it. Which is why jesus the living word of God Orders us to be submissive to the teachings of the church, still leaf today by the Holy Spirit. That however cannot and does not detract from a personal encounter of Christ , thevword of God In carnate ,through praying the scripture daily.

  • Pax

    Oh sorry then. We agree on that.

  • Scripture was written thousands of years ago by people who actually participated in the events that they wrote about or were close to the events. Today, when we read what they wrote, we try to understand what they meant. Sometimes it is obvious what they meant; at other times it isn’t.
    When we read it for ourselves in order to be instructed, we rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit for helping us along. This guidance in the Church isn’t only reserved only for the hierarchy. It applies to any Spirit-filled person.
    Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium 12 says: “The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One,(111) [cf. 1 Jn 2:20, 27] cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when “from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful” (8*) [Cf. 1 Cor. 10: 17] they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth.”
    This is quite a statement coming from the magisterium.

  • Mark

    I have worked in youth ministry for several decades. I agree with a lot of what you wrote, but you missed a huge piece of the problem. They are growing up in faithless homes.

  • Pax

    This is exactly the principle of ‘general infallibility’ It is shared identically between the west and the east. It is the basis for the idea of Papal infallibility because the bishops and pope have it in their power when acting as a group to ‘bind’ the faithful by the power of the ‘keys’ grated to Peter , then anything they bind , as an authentic interpretation of scripture is exactly the same as ‘universal agreement in matters of faith and morals’ because those who willfully reject what is bound are no longer part of ‘ lay faithful’, so it can be proved from the first principle that any pronunciation of the magisterium ratified by the pope , which pertains to faith and morals is in fact ‘roused and sustained by the Spirit of truth’ and infallible.

  • Pax

    Also, there are two scriptures you need to more fully understand what you are quoting.

    Mathew 18:17 “If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”


    Matthew 16:19 – “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”.

    Mathew 16:19 needs to be read in light of Isaiah 22.

    You might find this helpful.

  • I don’t believe that the word “church” is limited to the hierarchy. At the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15, the letter to the Gentiles from the council was sent by the “The apostles and elders and brethren” (Acts 15:23), and said that “it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us” (Acts 15:28). James was the one who spoke to the group of apostles, elders, and brethren, and suggested sending the letter to the Gentiles by the hands of Paul, Barnabas and other. The letter was sent by the whole Church. This had to do with a serious matter that was dividing the Church at that time as to whether the Gentiles needed to be Jews in order to adhere to Christ. The answer was no. Lumen Gentium 12 appears to be on solid Scriptural footing.

  • Gigi

    Young people are leaving the RCC because they see it for what it is — an organization that shields paedophile priests from prosecution and hides assets so it doesn’t have to pay victims of sexual abuse. They also don’t agree with many of its tenants — no birth control, no sex before marriage and its persecution of LGBT people.

  • Gigi

    “Scripture was written thousands of years ago by people who actually participated in the events that they wrote about or were close to the events.” That’s not true. The books of the NT were written 70+ years after Jesus of Nazareth died.

  • Gigi

    I’m here. I’m not engaged at all. I just think the RCC is an evil organization.

  • Probably 70 years would be the maximum. The people who wrote the New Testament either walked with Jesus or were able to interview those who did walk with Him. Many of the eyewitnesses were still alive at the time of the writings. There was plenty of eyewitness material to draw from.

  • Gigi

    Wrong. They never met him.

  • Linda Almaraz

    So now that you just “think” that the RCC is an evil organization, you need to go further past just thinking and become engage and really look and investigate your conclusion. Why has this organization, as you called it, have you thinking it’s evil? This organization has been around for over two thousand years. This Church you have called an evil organization has produced extraordinary people who have done great things for the world. Yet, there has been many in the RCC who have done bad and harmful things. Those who follow the authentic teachings based on the Catechism of this Church have done great good, but those who shunned or seek to distort or change her teachings have produced great harm and evil. If you are only looking only at those disloyal to her teachings, you are being dishonest and do not seek the Truth.
    Gigi, many things are not what they appear to be. You have one life only. You don’t know how long you still have in time before you leave. Find and seek the Truth. To have come into this world and never found your reason for being, is a great loss to you.

  • If Matthew, John, Peter, Jude, and James wrote gospels and epistles in
    the NT, or had someone write for them, they did meet Jesus while He was on the earth. The others did not.

  • Gigi

    None of the authors of the books that were included in what we know today as the NT ever met Jesus of Nazareth. Apologists will say claim that they did but this is false.

  • Gigi

    Correction: I know the RCC is an evil organization. Anyone who’s been paying attention know this is true.

  • Did someone make up the names?

  • Gigi


  • Can you cite some references.

  • Linda Almaraz

    I agree. The men who were in charge of the Temple of God in Jerusalem also did evil and killed the second person of God, Jesus Christ. Do you also think this Temple of God evil?
    The Roman Catholic Church —if she is who she claims to be—will follow the same path as the LORD. She will be called evil, out of touch, rigid, anti women, and much more, but at the end she will also triumph. Unlike the Temple that was of human origin used to sacrificed animals, the visible Church was born out of Jesus Christ, the God Man. and he is the Sacrifice. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me!”
    Judas, Pilate,the Pharisees and the mislead laity were responsible for the crucifixion of Christ. The Temple, consequently, suffered destruction and Jesus Christ cried for that day that was to come because his people had not recognized the time of their visitation. The same thing is occurring within the Church. She has her Judas’s, anti Christian overnments, heretical priests and ignorant mislead laity.
    Farewell Gigi. You will either see the Truth in the here or it will be revealed at your death. I wish you Love,Faith and Hope.

  • Scongili

    The pink elephant in the room is that the youth leave church because they succumb to the allure of promiscuous sex. They become separated from God by mortal sin. Thus, religion and things of the spirit become distasteful to them.