Over at dotCommonweal, Joseph Komonchak asks the question:
(I)s there a significant generation-gap here?
Let me take a stab at some possibilities:
- Young people are involved in Catholicism, just not in their parents’ groups.
- Some parishes did such a good job at age-segregated activities: youth groups, LifeTeen, confirmation, service trips, college campus ministries, etc., that many young Catholics have no experience with parish mainstream activities.
- Post-Vatican II lay people were so thrilled at having a certain freedom of expressing faith, they were too busy to pass that on to the next generation.
- Catholic high schools have changed the Catholic culture over the past thirty or forty years. In adopting the busy-student philosophy of secular high schools (sports, homework, academics, service opportunities) there is little to no encouragement for teens to get involved in parish activities, let alone see Sunday Mass as part of their formation.
That last point I’d like to explore a bit further, as I’ve offended one or two colleagues with my suspicion that Catholic schools, high schools particularly, don’t always steer young people to their prime involvement as believers.
What might bolster my opinions would be the state of involvement of young Catholics in rural or small urban parishes: communities too small to sustain significant parallel youth networks, and welcoming enough of young people to include them in parish life.
It would be interesting to study many of the campus ministries at large universities, the places that have a significant population of residents. How do these places integrate young people into the mainstream? Or do college Catholic activities remain segregated from the townies’ doings?
What do youth ministers have to say about this?
Or anybody else?