Keeping Teens Involved in the Practice of the Faith

The Good Samaritan by Eugene Delacroix

The Good Samaritan by Eugene Delacroix

I spoke to a group of teens who were preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation.  Confirmation is generally administered to 10th graders in the Atlanta Archdiocese.

The format of the talk was “Stump the Deacon!”  It is one of the things I do in education that I most enjoy.  The teens had written questions before I arrived and had placed them in a box for me to select at random. It did not take long for this approach to morph into an interactive Q&A and discussion session.  I don’t know how it is in other places, but we have a great group of teens in our sacrament preparation programs.

As I was entering the room, I reflected on the reality that as many as one-half to two-thirds of these teens will greatly reduce and maybe even stop the practice of their faith after receiving Confirmation. Why does this happen and what can we do about it?  Before I suggest what I believe to be an important ingredient to solving this question, let’s return to the Q&A session…

Of all the questions that were posed, one struck me as most important and profound.  I will paraphrase it:

“How can I really know and recognize God? How will He speak to me and will I recognize His voice? What should I do when I am in the Adoration Chapel?”

The young lady who posed this question understood already that there is a difference between knowing about a person and actually knowing that person… so in being able to pose the question, she is already on her way to answering it.

“Knowing” a person implies a personal relationship. When I met my wife, I did more than simply “study” her.  I spent time with her. Otherwise our relationship would never have begun and we would not have married. The same is true of our relationship with God. For us to not just know about God, but to actually know Him, we must cultivate and nurture our relationship with Him by spending time with Him in prayer… humbly, urgently, expectantly, persistently and patiently.

And therein is part of the answer to the earlier question.

Do you want to teach your children to pray? First, make sure you are praying and know how to advance in prayer… then second, show your children how by routinely praying with them and letting them see you in prayer.

Then put your prayer into action.  What did Jesus teach about caring for the least of his brethren?  Love God by caring for those in need all around you and make sure you involve your children. Does your parish have an annual or more frequent mission and retreat for teens.  Our parish participates in the Catholic Heart Work Camp mission trips. Here, teens have the opportunity for litugical worship and communal prayer, private prayer and works of mercy.  Such service works include visiting and feeding the homeless, home construction projects, nursing home visits, etc. Even in the absence of mission trips, suggest local outings and projects to care for those in need.

There is a high correlation between those teens who are involved in such missionary work and those who continue to practice their faith.

What are your experiences in keeping your teens active in the faith and at church? How have you helped a young person to deepen their love of the Lord? Share below.


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Into the Deep by Deacon Mike Bickerstaff is a regular feature of the The Integrated Catholic Life™ and usually appears on Sundays and occasionally on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.

Deacon Mike Bickerstaff is the Editor in chief and co-founder of the The Integrated Catholic Life™. A Catholic Deacon of the Roman Rite for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Deacon Bickerstaff is assigned to St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church where he is the Director of Adult Education and Evangelization.

He is a co-founder of the successful annual Atlanta Catholic Business Conference; the Chaplain of the Atlanta Chapter of the Woodstock Theological Center’s Business Conference; and Chaplains to the St. Peter Chanel Business Association and co-founder of the Marriages Are Covenants Ministry, both of which serve as models for similar parish-based ministries.

Looking for a Catholic Speaker?  Check out Deacon Mike’s speaker page and the rest of the ICL Speaker’s Bureau.


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About the Author

Deacon Michael Bickerstaff is the Editor in chief and co-founder of the The Integrated Catholic Life™. A Catholic Deacon of the Roman Rite for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Deacon Bickerstaff is assigned to St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church where he is the Director of Adult Education and Evangelization.

He is a co-founder of the successful annual Atlanta Catholic Business Conference; the Chaplain of the Atlanta Chapter of the Woodstock Theological Center’s Business Conference; and Chaplain of the St. Peter Chanel Faith at Work Business Association and co-founder and Chaplain of the Marriages Are Covenants Ministry, both of which serve as models for similar parish-based ministries.

He and his wife have two adult children, one daughter-in-law and three grandchildren.

NB: The views I express on this site are my own. I am not an official spokesman for either my parish or diocese.

Looking for a Catholic Speaker?  Check out Deacon Mike's speaker page and the rest of the ICL Speaker's Bureau.

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4 Comments

  1. More than anything I know that it was God who prepared me for my Confirmation. He introduced me to the Divine Mercy devotion and EWTN months before my Confirmation. The messages of Divine Mercy made God’s great love and mercy so real to me! I started to pray a little of the chaplet everyday. And before long, I was closer to Him without even realizing it! But I wish people had spoken to me the spiritual warfare when one strives to grow closer to God. I thought I was going crazy. Parents and parishes should teach that even in preparation for Confirmation.
    A year later, He invited me to serve Him in my high school’s campus ministry. As a reader and altar server I felt closer to the Lord. And through this He instilled the love of service in my heart.
    Though I fell a way in college, the seeds God planted in my heart then, helped me find my way back home before graduation. Glory to God in the highest! :)

  2. For many young people like myself the skepticism goes much deeper than your post suggests. Our question isn’t how do we “know and recognize God”?, it’s more about doubting the very existence of a monotheistic god and taking exception to the doctrines of a holy book written in a time and place of profound ignorance and superstition. We have come a long way in two thousand years and developed vastly superior answers to moral and existential questions. Our disbelief is not the product of personal problems, internal crisis, rebellion, inadequate parenting or failed approaches by the church. It’s about the very foundational doctrines themselves and the dogmatic approach to belief your theology requires. Beliefs which to you are holy and divinely inspired, to us are irrational and untenable. There is no reconciliation to to this polarization of beliefs; no way to draw us back to your side. Not as long as I have eyes to see with and brain tho think with.

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