I am thinking right now about the “Young People of the Church.” Fifty years ago that meant 14 to 18- year-olds...CYO weekly meetings...socials like hayrides and beach trips...some dances and sports...a young priest and a few adults spending major time on it.

Something even better came in the 70’s and 80’s: retreats, and regular time at meetings for prayer and serious discussion. Youth Ministers were hired by many parishes.

In this new century, however, there is a big disconnect. “Young People in the Church” signifies 18-25 or even 30. But they are not in the Church. The generation aged 18 to 40 do not—as a whole—feel an attraction to, or a need for, organized religion. There are a number of reasons, and no one answer. The big fact is that our postmodern world, made controllable by so much technology and science has freed persons, especially women, from so many constraints. Persons are freer—physically and socially—to take on careers they never could have. Leisure and entertainment that we never had before is at your fingertips. Young persons are free to choose.

During these coming five years I want our parish to ask ‘Where ought we put our efforts?’ St. Catherine’s has at least 300 youth of high school age, and equivalent numbers age 18-25. And we are a part of a larger youth population in our public schools. The young today are not less moral or idealistic. Many of them have a respect for classes of fellow human beings that my generation—to our shame—did not. But what they think the Church is does not attract them.

So we will study this through our Pastoral Council and staff to search out the necessary strategy.

Father John Hynes