Several years ago I read the book by Sherry Weddell “Forming Intentional Disciples”. She noted that for the last 400 years the Catholic Church has primarily been focused on teaching the children the faith through Religious Education programs and Catholic Schools. The Church has also spent a great deal of time with sacramental initiation. However what worked in the 17th century might not work in the 21st century.
The old paradigm was that a young person might drift away from the practice of the Catholic religion after leaving home but would probably return when getting married or when the first child needed to be baptized. Ms. Weddell noted that since the year 1972 marriages in the Church have dropped 60%! So why would a couple bring their child for baptism if they are not attending Mass?
What can be done? What used to work, ain’t! We have to help people come to a personal relationship with God through Christ Jesus. The Millennial generation, those born from 1985 on, may not believe that a personal relationship is possible so why would attendance at Sunday be important. It is our responsibility to help the younger generation have the personal encounter with God, but we ourselves must have that encounter first and … have we?
Blessings, Father Dooley
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT Do I consider my faith as a personal encounter with God? Do I believe that it is possible to have that encounter? Why do I come to Mass – obligation, habit, or relationship.