CNS has young Catholics on its radar today as likely to be inactive and falling away from their practice of the faith. Father John Cusick, “father” of Theology on Tap:
“If Catholic youth ministry is so good, where are all the young adults? They’re missing in action,” he said. “For the moment (in their teens), they have a good sense of church, but then they fall off the end of the table.”
My contention is that the teen sense of church isn’t so good as he thinks. In my neighborhood, I see kids falling off the end of the table when they go to Catholic high school. Local pastors think they’re getting a good deal from $8-10K per year Catholic high schools dotting our region. So pretty much nobody in our deanery has a youth ministry.
My observation is that Mass attendance starts dipping after second grade and by the time we hit middle school, has fallen through the floor. The table isn’t even in sight. Catholic high schools cultivate their own culture, and kids are attracted to sports and other activities a parish can’t provide. My pastor doesn’t like to hear it, but the Catholic high schools are killing our parishes on the young adult front. We lose them young and we scramble like mad to get back a fraction of the defectors.
Cusick is right that an outreach is needed to catch the lost generation, Catholics between age 12 and 25. And he’s nailed liturgy’s Big Three:
Meeting the liturgical needs of today’s young adults will require parishes to improve the quality of preaching, hospitality and music, he said.
“Don’t say, ‘As we read in today’s Gospel.’ I heard it the first time. Tell me how it works in my life. Young adults hunger for a Gospel that works for them on Monday morning when they go to work,” the priest declared.
A good medical treatment is predicated on an accurate diagnosis. It’s not very PC to criticize Catholic schools, but where are my parish’s 320 teens? Especially now that Confirmation’s three weeks past.