Key Findings about Catholic Youth and Young Adults
~ from HORIZON, the journal of the National Religious Vocations Conference
The conclusions of a recently completed examination of the pastoral needs of youth and young adults are important information for all vocation ministers [and indeed, all religious institutes.] The National Religious Conference was one of approximately 75 Catholic organizations that took part in an extensive, multi-year process of listening to the concerns of young people and those who minister among them.
The conclusions are significant for two major reasons. First, they matter because the form and process that led to the conclusions of the National Dialogue were highly inclusive and exhaustive. It’s important to listen to what emerges from such a thorough appraisal.
Secondly, the conclusions of the National Dialogue matter because one of the key things young adults are asking for is accompaniment in vocational decisions, vocation in the broad sense of the word, not strictly entrance to a religious order.
Vocation ministers operate from two platforms and often move seamlessly between them. On the one hand, they invite people into their communities and walk with women and men interested specifically in religious life. On the other hand, vocation ministers also walk with young people who are uncertain about life direction and want the wisdom of the church to help them live Christian discipleship in general, not necessarily discipleship as a consecrated person. The National Dialogue report is a strong reminder that young people desire this second form of vocation ministry.
Trends that emerged from the process
▪ The young people in these conversations are actively engaged in their faith, yet still
struggle with the church.
▪ There is incredible diversity among youth and young adults in terms of culture, ecclesial
perspective, spirituality and lived experiences.
▪ As awareness and responsivity to this diversity may at times be lost in ministries with a
diverse community of young people.
▪ Young people and ministry leaders want more listening as was found in the model of the
National Dialogue, the V Encuentro, and the Synod.
▪ The participants, by and large, wanted to see church leadership and their fellow
Christians be more authentic and less judgmental and divisive.
▪ The young people in these conversations have a very strong sense of mission; they want
to change the world.