How Christian do you think your town/city/community is?
Many news stories in the past several years have addressed the "Rise of the Nones" as they say, that is the growing number of people that indicate in surveys or interviews that their religious affiliation is NONE (as opposed to Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, etc.) For decades, there have been concerns about atheists and agnostics. How many times have you seen such articles or new stories?
And, when you have seen those articles, how many times have you thought, "Oh, that is too bad, but I am glad that isn't around here?"
Not to be a Debbie-Downer, but yesterday (June 5th) Barna Research shared information entitled: The Most Post-Christian Cities in America: 2019
The good news:
Communities in the Diocese of Youngstown did were NOT listed in the Top Ten.
The bad news:
Youngstown-Warren came in at #63, and
Cleveland-Akron-Canton came in at #67.
As for other cities around us in the Top One Hundred List, we have:
28. Detroit, MI
35. Toledo, OH
36. Pittsburgh, PA
59. Columbus, OH
70. Dayton, OH
71. Cincinnati, OH
Keep in mind that this is surveying all people, of all backgrounds,
not Roman Catholic specifically, but this is the like the air we breathe,
it is all around us, and does include Catholics.
The factors considered were:
To qualify as “post-Christian,” individuals had to meet nine or more of the following factors.
Highly post-Christian” individuals meet 13 or more of the factors (out of these 16 criteria).
How would you rate using this list?
Parents, how might you address some of these with your family?
I see great possibilities in:
reading the Bible together,
sharing stories of the importance of your faith/God/prayer/Church participation,
and how Jesus is part of your daily life!
College students and young adults with roommates, many of the suggestions for parents above can easily be done with your dorm-mates or roommates and groups of friends.
Side note: in the Catholic tradition, we don't usually say we are "Born Again,"
however, we were at our Baptism...
we continue to each time we say Amen and receive Communion,
and we do every morning that we dedicate our day to God.
"Sunday school" and "Small groups" may not be terms you are used to either.
But are you involved with continuing education sessions,
participate in your parish mission,
go to speaker sessions,
take Catechist Certification courses (including the Youth Ministry Online Trainings),
go to Bible studies,
take part in Ladies Guild, Knights of Columbus, Women's Group, Men's Fellowship,
or participate in Faith Formation programs?
Then, there you go!
Do not let this study get your depressed,
instead, use it as an incentive to find ways to more obviously live your faith.
Remember that old song, "They will know we are Christians by our love"?
Share God's love by doing acts of love every day.
Then, next time Barna does this research, maybe Youngstown, Warren, Canton
and the rest of the diocese will be lower on the list
as we promote Christian living
in our schools,
places or work,
areas of service,
and everywhere we go!
To read the Barna article references, please visit:
To read more about the "nones" from Pew Research, visit:
Recall the words of St. Teresa of Avila:
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
"And the Survey Says..."
Insights from the Diocesan Synod Surveys
At the 2017 Ministry Day workshop with Fr. Chris Luoni and Cindee Case, we discussed some of what we learned through the input of nearly 500 teens, young adults, parents and Church leaders in preparing for the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops focused on "Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment."
We laid it out as a bit of a game show, inviting attendees to guess at the responses of the high school teens, young adults (20s and 30s) and sometimes parents/family members of the youth and young adults on a few key questions. The results surprised a few folks.... but do keep in mind that the surveys were completed voluntarily for the most part (a Catholic school religion teacher may not have given an option, and perhaps a few parents may have insisted, but it is mostly from volunteers.) Responses also came primarily from people who are very or somewhat connected to a Catholic parish or school, but I was pleased with some very honest responses on what that connection may mean for the individual.
In any event, why not test yourself? Let me know if the comment section how you did, what you thought, or how a survey result might impact your ministry.
And come back to this blog page for more updates throughout the year.
The Powerpoint presentation is attached below (large file) and has been posted online for quick viewing at: (Click on link address or black button)
As I began to write a blog post about the October 2018 Synod on "Youth, faith and vocational discernment," I saw that CMD beat me to is, so I will share their thoughts:
What do you think?
By the way, those of you on my YM email list should have received the link with the Letter to Youth from the Holy Father. Thank you for sharing that with teens. Here is it again, in case you missed it:
The Preparatory Document (Click for Inglese for English!)
Please indicate, where possible, the source of the statistics and make reference to the year. Other pertinent information can be attached to better understand the situation in various countries.
- Number of inhabitants in the country / countries and the birth rate.
- Number and percentage of young people (ages 16-29) in the country / countries.
- Number and percentage of Catholics in the country / countries.
- Average age (for the last 5 years) for marrying (distinguishing between men and women), for entering the seminary and the consecrated life (distinguishing between men and women).
- In the 16-29 age group, the percentage of students, workers (if possible specify the type of work), unemployed
These questions refer both to young people who take part in Church programmes, as well as those who do not take part or have no interest to participate.
1. In what manner does the Church listen to the lived situations of young people?
2. What are the main challenges and most significant opportunities for young people in your country / countries today?
3. What kinds and places of group gatherings of youth, institutionalized or otherwise, have a major success within the Church, and why?
4. What kinds and places of group gatherings of youth, institutionalized or otherwise, have a major success outside the Church, and why?
5. What do young people really ask of the Church in your country / countries today?
6. What possibilities for participation exist in your country / countries for young people to take part in the life of the ecclesial community?
7. How and in what manner is contact made with young people who do not frequent Church surroundings?
b) Pastoral Vocational Programmes for Young People
8. How are families and communities involved in the vocational discernment of young people?
9. How do schools and universities or other educational institutions (civil or ecclesial) contribute to young people’s formation in vocational discernment?
10. In what manner are you taking into account the cultural changes resulting from the development of the digital world?
11. How can World Youth Days or other national or international events become a part of ordinary pastoral practice?
12. In what manner is your diocese planning experiences for the pastoral vocational programme for young people?
c) Pastoral Care Workers with Young People
13. How much time and in what manner do clergy and other formators provide for personal spiritual guidance?
14. What initiatives and opportunities for formation are in place for those who provide pastoral vocational guidance?
15. What personal guidance is offered in seminaries?
d) Specific Questions According to Geographic Areas
a. How does your community care for young people who experience extreme violence (guerrilla warfare, gangs, prison, drug addiction, forced marriages) and accompany them in various ways in their life?
b. What formation is offered to support the engagement of young people in society and civil life, for the common good?
c. In a world which is greatly secularized, what pastoral activities are most effective for continuing the journey of faith after the Sacraments of Christian Initiation?
Sharing Activities1. List the main types of pastoral activity in accompaniment and vocational discernment in your present situation.
2. Choose three activities you consider the most interesting and relevant to share with the universal Church, and present it according to the following format (no more than one page for each experience).
a) Description: In a few sentences, roughly describe the activity. Who are the leading characters? How does the activity take place? Where? Etc.
b) Analysis: Evaluate the activity, even in layman’s terms, for a better understanding of the important elements: what are the goals? What is the theoretical basis? What are the most interesting insights? How have they developed? Etc.
c) Evaluation: What are the goals? If not achieved, why? Strengths and weaknesses? What are the consequences on the social, cultural and ecclesial levels? Why and in what way is the activity important / formative? etc.
While I cannot yet tell you how this information may be collected, please do start considering ways to collect the input at your local level.
This is such a great opportunity to LISTEN TO young people and to have them help build the Church for the future!
I was a bit disheartened to read a recent article published by Our Sunday Visitor written by CARA researcher Mary Gray in which he explains reasons why so many Millennials are no longer practicing Catholics.
Based on analysis from two different studies the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) conducted, they found such things as:
> the typical age for this decision to leave was made at 13.
> 63 percent said they stopped being Catholic between the ages of 10 and 17.
> Another 23 percent say they left the Faith before the age of 10.
I am well aware of the "rise of the nones" as the largest growing religious "label" in the US lately, and that many young adults who leave don't come back as was once believed (once they marry or once they have kids... they'll be back to Church, many would say.) And I have seen high school youth ministry programs shrink in size over the past two decades. There are have been many guesses why and I've seen families shift focus from religious activities to time-intensive extra-curriculars for the kids (i.e. seasonal sports now include year-round commitments with weightlifting, training camps and ongoing practices.... musical and dance groups have increased rehearsals and competitions... speech and debate now is most of the school year... and so on.)
But this was the first time I have reflected on nearly a fourth of young people saying they "checked out" of the faith by 4th or 5th grade (yes, read that age 10 bit above again.... and let that sink in...)
(See article at: https://www.osv.com/OSVNewsweekly/PapalVisit/Articles/Article/TabId/2727/ArtMID/20933/ArticleID/20512/Young-people-are-leaving-the-faith-Heres-why.aspx)
Searching for answers, I read:
<<important to their decision to leave:
that they had stopped believing in what the Catholic Church teaches,
and that they did not like the Catholic Church’s rules and judgmental approach. >>
OK, those facts are not new...
we often spend time in youth ministries 'defending the faith' and correcting misunderstandings.
What was new was a clearer explanation on how young people understand science to be in contrast to Catholic teachings.... this gave me a sense of hope, however.
Young people must hear and see how Catholicism and science cant co-exist....
that gives some clues on ways we may be able to turn around this trend of leaving!
1. We can begin to better educate our catechists, volunteers and core team members on the Church's teaching on MANY of the scientific theories.
“‘Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 159).
2. We can include intercessory prayers to patron saints of the scientific fields
Here are just a few I found with a quick Google search:
Albertus Magnus/Albert the Great – natural scientists, scientists, biology, chemistry,
Barbara - mathematicians, geoscientist
Cosmas – doctors, pharmacists, surgeons,
Damian – doctors, pharmacists, surgeons,
Dominic de Guzman - scientists
Dymphna – mental health professionals, psychiatrists,
Hubert of Liege - mathematicians
Isidore of Seville – computer scientists,
Joseph of Cupertino – astronauts,
Rebekah – physicists
(Challenge the youth to find the patron saint of a certain area... could be fun online or book research project.)
Here is a prayer I found that may come in handy:
O Divine Creator,
Saint Albert was a bishop
who introduced Greek and Arabic science to medieval Europe,
raising understanding of botany,
biology, physics, and other studies of nature.
A scientist himself,
he wrote many books on these subjects.
I ask him to pray for all scientists today,
for their talents to be used
to promote life rather than to destroy it,
for elusive cures to be found,
and for the moral use of the discoveries
that they have already made.
O Lord, fill them with Your Holy Spirit
to guide them into understanding
and respecting that You are the Author
and Master of all creation.
pray for us.
3. We can highlight the many Catholic scientists who have contributed greatly to the various fields of study.
(Another research endeavor for the teens!)
4. We can recruit more Catholics working in scientific fields to be involved with our ministries -- as catechists, volunteers and core team members or at least as guest speakers (talking about how their faith and their work co-exist and perhaps nurture each other!)
What other ideas can you think of?
I'd love for us to pray and work together to try to stop this trend for the current
and next generations of young people.
Cindee Case, MPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.