In 2013, I wrote the following about renewal in the Western parts of the Church and changing the culture:
Where can the Catholic Church hope to turn the tide?
My thesis is this – I believe it MUST be done in the young adult stage of life. Previous research shows that college-age adults are more open to ideas and change than they will be in later stages of life.
Also, the Church has consistently taught (if not implemented on the ground) that evangelization and catechesis of adults is where the focus of our efforts should lie.
I still believe that is the case. We know that of those that no longer identify as Catholic 79% do so by the age of 23 (Sherry Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples, Page 33). So, young adults should be the focal point of our efforts and if we want to get even more narrow, then the best way to influence young people is to start with the most influential ones in their age group, the leaders. Most who end up becoming influential leaders will go to college. Finally, since 90% of Catholic college students go to non-Catholic schools, we MUST focus our energies on continued growth and dynamic evangelization in campus ministries at non-Catholic schools (mostly public).
When we think of the apostolates that are doing the most dynamic work in the field of evangelization, they include many working on college campuses:
Then there are the leading Catholic campus ministries around the country. The best of which are growing and evangelizing their students as well.
The models of evangelization on campus have been so fruitful that we are now seeing their influence spill into parishes, dioceses, and other adult ministries. This means that most of the organizations who are the on-the-ground leaders in the area of Catholic evangelization can be found on college campuses. This supports my thesis which is that renewal has so start in campus ministry. What happens in colleges today, will be in our parishes tomorrow.
Renewal and growth has already started in campus ministry and is now starting to influence other areas of our the Church. Yet, there is still a grave need for increased resources and people, because the majority of campuses have no dedicated person serving them, and even fewer have a really dynamic campus ministry programs.
If my thesis above is correct (that renewal of our Church will be done started through young adults), then we need to continue to do the following.
- re-focus our priorities of ministering to the millenial generation toward the non-Catholic campus ministry centers.
- no longer be satisfied with understaffed and underfunded campus ministries (or having none at all).
- hire dynamic & visionary leaders to start programs that challenge and form Catholics to go out into the world and change it – not be changed by it.
- encourage laity to put their money into campus ministries which are doing good work.
- have intense and daily prayer for campus ministry.
I encourage comments to this article as well as sharing.