New Mission Territory

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YTTLook around after Mass or observe the folks attending ministry meetings and parish events and ask yourself: “Where are all the young adults?”  According to the Fast Facts on Young Adults page listed on the USCCB website, the Church defines “young adults” as 18-40 years of age and says that 40% of Catholics today belong to this age group.  Only 24 percent of young adult Catholics attend weekly Mass, while 21 percent attend two to three times per month, according to a 2005 study conducted by sociologists William V. D’Antonio, James Davidson, Dean Hoge and Mary Gautier, authors of the book Catholics in America: Their Faith and Their Church (Sheed & Ward). According to the same study, 80 percent of young adult Catholics believe they can be a good Catholic without attending Mass weekly, a belief that clearly differentiates them from their parents’ generation who knew that missing Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation was a grave offense and a mortal sin. 

Before we address the problem of their conspicuous absence, let’s look at some of the reasons why they may be straying.  I would suggest to you that many young adult Catholics go off to college where the environment is not typically supportive of living a devout Catholic life.  Assuming they are not in a strong Catholic school, they will be exposed, at best, to religion-neutral professors and friends who do not embrace Church teaching or the idea that Christ should be at the center of their lives.  Away from the watchful eyes of Mom and Dad, they will be subjected to…

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