Young people are leaving the church at an alarming rate and this has Bishop Donald Kettler troubled. He voiced his concerns at the Diocesan Pastoral Council meeting Sept. 10 at St. Louis Church in Paynesville.
Two recently released national studies by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate — a national, nonprofit research center that conducts social scientific studies about the Catholic Church — indicated that only about two-thirds or fewer millennials (those born in 1982 or later) who were raised Catholic remain Catholic as adults.
According to CARA senior research associate Mark Gray, “Some young Catholics have told CARA that they are leaving the faith for science, believing that Catholicism is incompatible with what they are learning in high school or at the university level.
“CARA’s research indicates that this phenomenon may be more common now than in the past because those raised Catholic today are significantly less likely than previous generations to have attended Catholics schools where religion and science are taught side by side,” he said.
In light of many young people leaving the church, Bishop Kettler said he would like to know more about religious education programs in the diocese.
“Are most of our kids involved in religious education programs? What is the level of participation in those programs? What is being done well?” he asked.
Diocesan Pastoral Council representatives will take those questions back to their parishes and organizations and report their findings to Bishop Kettler at the next meeting scheduled for Nov. 5.
Life and Dignity Sunday
The council also discussed how to help parishes in the diocese engage in Life and Dignity Sunday, set for the weekend of Oct. 22-23.
Chris Codden, director of the diocesan Office of Marriage and Family, provided additional information about the upcoming event and encouraged council members to help Bishop Kettler identify a “parish ambassador” for each parish. The ambassador will hold a Life and Dignity Sunday registration drive for the Catholic Advocacy Network, an initiative of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in the state.
In May, Bishop Kettler asked for feedback on how the diocese could help Catholics make informed decisions in the November elections. Members reported that overall, the surveys indicated that guidance and education are a necessity.
Bishop Kettler encouraged people to get a copy of the U.S. bishop’s “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” document, to be an active part of the Minnesota Catholic Conference’s Catholic Advocacy Network and to continue to look for election information and resources in The Visitor and on the diocese’s Election 2016 webpage: www.stcdio.org/faithful-citizenship-2016.
He also provided the council with an update on some of his priorities, including the newly formed Catholic Community Schools system in the St. Cloud metro region, working with Latino communities, his commitment to continued efforts surrounding clergy abuse cases and fostering relations with interfaith groups.