by Paul Morisi
A concern of many Catholics today (not just of pastors and bishops) is “where are the young Catholics?” It can be a scary sight, to enter a church and to see that demographic absent. Simply putting a bulletin insert inviting “20 somethings” to a prayer group might not be enough (especially if they aren’t in the church to read the bulletin).
In a 2008 article entitled “Sowing the Seeds for Ministry: Five Ways to Reach Young Catholics,” author/theologian Tim Muldoon, took a look at this issue and produced his five “C’s” for attracting young Catholics.
Muldoon looks at the important of Community. Our culture has embraced the notion of “I am spiritual, but not religious.” Muldoon would argue that community plays a significant role in one’s growth spiritually. “Young adults have experienced displacement, often through college or professional life,” he said.
But, there are other ways to engage the communal aspect of the faith that the young Church longs for. The U.S. bishops, in the book “Connecting Young Adults to Catholic Parishes,” offers some other creative ideas: holding faith formation breakfasts or lunches (outside of the church proper), watching sports games together and reflecting on the gospel values of competition, using media and best sellers to stir up discussion groups, as well as faith sharing opportunities within the parish.
The next step is Cooperation. It’s obvious that maintaining a good working relationship with young adults can be a difficult task. How can we cooperate with such a vastly changing demographic? A good suggestion is offering a variety of activities – liturgical, social and service. Also, offering them at a variety of times allows for people to fit it into their already busy schedules.
Communication is the third “C.” Jesus in His ministry made it a habit of meeting people where they were spiritually and physically. Jesus had no problem going out to the tax collector and the fisherman alike and inviting them to follow His teachings. We may not have to go to the shores of Galilee, but perhaps just the internet. Here are some free (I know, its odd, but some things are still free) ways to utilize the web: Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. These tools can make reaching the younger Catholic audience immensely easier.
Consultation, cultivating young leadership to minister to their peers, is terribly important. It will be a long term investment, but can bare great fruit for a local parish and a diocese on a whole. Forming young leadership with a good mission plan or statement can be very beneficial for a parish.
Lastly (and I think its interesting Muldoon chose to put this last) is Catechesis. What is Catechesis? The simple answer is the “Catholic stuff” that makes us unique from our Protestant brothers and sisters, but Muldoon seems to think of it as not only doctrine, but doctrine mixed with spiritual growth. The idea is to apply the doctrine in a way that leads to a more fruitful spiritual life and a true friendship with the risen Jesus Christ.[hr] Morisi directs youth ministry for the diocesan Office of Faith Formation.