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Click Speaker for what was addressed to her/him:

FRIDAY NIGHT FORUM, January 28, 2011:


James Davidson (Speaker), Melissa Cidade, Robert Putnam, Panel  Moderator: Peter Steinfels

SATURDAY CONFERENCE: January 29th, 2011:

Carmen Cervantes, David Campbell, Jennifer Sawyer, Greg Eirich, Panel; Christine Firer Hinze (Moderator)

Donna Freitas, Colleen Carroll Campbell, Patrick Landry, Paul Schutz, Panel; Robert Parmach (Moderator)

Bill McGarvey, Rachel Bundang, Amanda Dalioiso, Matthew Boudway, Panel; Tom Beaudoin (Moderator)

PANEL IV: “I STILL HAVEN’T FOUND WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR”: YEARNINGS OF THE SPIRIT Marilyn Santos, Tami Schmitz, Meredith Fabian, Joe Nuzzi, Panel; Angela O’Donnell (Moderator)

PANEL V:  AN INCONVENIENT CHURCH: What Twenty-Somethings Are Saying About the Church
Dana Dillon, Fr. Bob Beloin, Malik Muhammed, Lisa Cataldo, Panel; James Martin, SJ (Moderator)

PANEL VI:  Lost and Found:  “Nobody Does It Alone, Jack”
 Fr. Bob Beloin, Carmen Cervantes, Bill McGarvey, Joe Nuzzi, Tami Schmitz; James Martin SJ (Moderator)

General Questions & Comments

James Davidson

To:  James Davidson

Comment:  How do the numbers of declining participation in America compare with the rest of the world?  Would numbers for young adults be more accurate if the age goups were 18-22 and 22-29 to distinguish those who go to Catholic colleges and to see how their individual practices change if any in or out of school?  Are traditional Catholics today intellectually more aware of the faith than those of the previous generations?

To:  James Davidson

Comment:  Please define better culture II Catholics.

To:  James Davidson

From:  Peter Quinn

Comment:  What has been the trend in the percentage of conversions to Catholicism over the last half-century?  Has the sexual abuse crisis had any discernable impact on the rate at which Catholics are leaving the Church or converts coming in?

To:  James Davidson

Comment:  Your use of the word “religion” was a little confusing.  Changing religion would seem to mean switching from Christianity to Judaism or Islam or even Buddhism.  However, I suspect you meant changing denominations instead.  Maybe not.  Please comment.

To:  James Davidson/Robert Putnam

From:  Kristina Bodnar, Colgate University

Comment:  How do we give attention to a new growing population of multi-racial young Catholics?  How can we address their problems statistically and also in a problem-solving approach?  For example, where do anglo-Latino Catholics fit into the responses we are examining?

To:  James Davidson

Comment:  Being Catholic requires education/knowledge.  What is the religious educational background of 20-somethings/Catholic high schools/colleges/parents?

To:  James Davidson

From:  Gina Pujols

Comment:  Since women are more involved in the church than men, how can we increase the hierarchical flexibility of women in the Church?

Robert Putnam

To:  Robert Putnam

From:  Brittany Janis (Busted Halo)

Comment:  Does redefining Catholic identity around the Latino culture have long term potential to revitalize the Church – or when that demographic assimilates will that also lead to a similar drop in involvement?

To:  Robert Putnam

Comment:  Is there data about the “conversion door?”  Parishes and campus ministries that I know seem to have good sized RCIA program.  Do new initiates stay in the church?

To:  Bob Putnam

Comment:  On your point that the ritual/doctrine expression of Catholicism is on the decline – in light of religious pluralism, external expressions can be potentially volatile.  This would explain why millennials choose not to see external expressions and important this leads to the interiorization of religion.  By this  I mean that the emphasis on being statements and feelings and spirituality (and less emphasis on ritual action and social experience).

To:  Robert Putnam/James Davidson/Melissa Cidade

Comment:  How many anglo 20-somethings were included in your research group?  Was it a regional or national survey?  Have you looked into the reasons why young couples are baptizing children?


Melissa Cidade

To:  Melissa Cidade

Comment:  As a 20-something who no longer attends Mass, I find it intellectually dangerous to assume young Catholics are foregoing Mass because of trivial reasons – busy lives, oversleeping, etc.  This minimized the huge issues and intelligent Catholics are dealing with – homosexuality, aborting, and as you say, “pedophilia” – you’ll never win us back if you ignore our real concerns.

To:  Melissa Cidade

Comment:  What is the data about the number of young Catholics who aren’t going to church regularly who come back or baptize their kids?  How many stay?  How can we as a Church be better about welcoming those who come in the doors for these important moments in their lives?

Questions/Comments for the Panel:

Comment:  How long do we have to change the paradigm within the church that says, “They’ll return when they baptize their kids” and start reaching out?  What is the tipping point when we can no longer turn it around?

Comment:  Communal belief, worship, and social action is central to the Catholic experience.  Is millennial Catholic belief a more individual “Protestant” experience of faith – and if so, what does that mean for Catholic identity?

Comment:  Christian Smith found in his study that young people are not necessarily angry at religion but make neutral “religion” is just not relevant for them.  What is your thought about that?

Comment:  What are the five biggest misconceptions young people have about the church?


Carmen Cervantes

To:  Carmen Cervantes

From:  Fr. Rob Powers

Comment:  What is your experience with Pastoral Juvenil of the support of young Hispanics and their parents for catechetical programs?  The percentage of Hispanic children in programs of religious education is very low.

To:  Carmen Cervantes

Comment:  What can the anglo young adults learn from the Latino young adults about grass roots organizing and involvement in pastoral juvenile?  How can we better integrate to share and learn from each other?  P.S. Jennifer Sawyer is right on about young adults.

To:  Carmen Cervantes

From:  Dana Cadlan-Farley

Comment:  What “lessons learned” can the Hispanic immigrant communities bring to other immigrants such as the present Arab Catholic (both Greek and Latin) diaspora whom I serve?

To:  Carmen Cervantes

Comment:  Would it be more effective for the mainstream anglo established Church to embrace existing models in the Latino youth/young adult community that you mentioned rather than putting energy and resources into reaching Latinos through the traditional institutions, e.g. schools and the like?

To:  Carmen Cervantes

From:  Fr. Greg Rannazzisi

Comment:  When dioceses in American – nearly, if not all – have apostolates, ministries, or departments for Spanish-speaking Catholics, can we really say that Latino Catholics are struggling to “fit in?”  Could you be more specific as to where – diocese, parish, etc. – this resistance exists?  I have a hard time doing so.

David Campbell

To:  David Campbell

Comment:  How to promote intergenerational dialogue and support?

To:  David Campbell

Comment:  Is the resistance to partisan dialogue in the Church an indication that the generation is weary of all the partisanship, or that the divined between parishes wrongly describes their experience?

Jennifer Sawyer

To:  Jennifer Sawyer

From:  Sr. Charlotte Rafferty,

Comment:  Jennifer, perhaps you already know about or have been to St. Francis Xavier Parish on 6th St .  Many young adults worship in this inclusive, social justice oriented parish (shelter, soup kitchen, home visiting).  You would be most welcome!

To:  Jen Sawyer

From:  Joan Horgan

Comment:  I am shocked at these gatherings about “the Church today” about the lack of naming the revelation of the sexual abuse crisis in the church.  This has been part of almost the last decade of your lives.  What role do you think it plays in the lives of young adults and their conflicts with the church?

To:  Jennifer Sawyer

Comment:  How can college campus ministry help young people to create their own young adult groups at parishes? 

Comment:  Your panel has no representation from the 20-somethings who are sexually active church rejectors, who are more typical of the age group, who see church-going as hypocritical.  What do you say to them?

To:  Jennifer Sawyer

From:  Lisa Holsberg

Comment:  As you interface on a consistent and continual basis with our greater secular culture at work and in the community and seek to be wholly yourself, no misunderstood, and still in authentic and real relationships with your colleagues and friends in this greater culture, what tools or experiences might the church offer you, directly to you or in its own self-realization and behavior, that can help you in this interface – so you are not alone without your church in your relationship to the world?

To:  Jennifer Sawyer

From:  Den Tom Maloni

Comment:  With your educational background of thinking of “defending” your religion, why not think of your responses as a way of evangelizing your/our religion/faith?

To:  Jennifer Sawyer

Comment:  Ms. Sawyer mentioned that young adult Catholics would probably participate in faith sharing activities geared toward them if they knew about them.  Our parish does offer such opportunities, but we have had nearly no response.  What’s the best way to get the word out, or to solicit feedback from 20-somethings in pastoral planning?  How and where and when should we publicize to have the best chance of success?

To:  Jennifer Sawyer/Greg Elrich

Comment:  What do you think will happen to 20-somethings who “check in” with churches or who want to start engaging with the Catholic Church again (or for the 1st time) when the new language of the Mass is introduced?

Questions/Comments for the Panel:

Comment:  To what extent are young Catholics simply becoming like the general non-Catholic population?  To what extent are young American Catholics moving in the direction of young European secularized Catholics?

From:  Rachel Mueller

Comment:  To what extent is the 20-something generation’s lack of connection with the church reflective of a general lack of connection in this generation in general?  Why do evangelical protestants seem to be experiencing this phenomenon to a lesser extent?  To what extent do you think the 20-something’s sense of being lost is reflective of the church as a whole being/feeling lost after Vatican II?

From:  Kevin Mohan

Comment:  What can the Church do to prevent what happened as Irish, Italian, and Polish Immigrants become more “American” after several generations (i.e. losing their Catholic identity) from happening to Latinos in the future?

Comment:  I work in full-time young adult ministry with both anglo and Latino young adults.  In my experience, spirituality and expression of faith is completely different between communities.  Is there any research that talks about these differences separate from beliefs about church teachings?

Comment:  What is to be said about the Africa-American/Black/Caribbean arm of the Catholic Church?  Everyone has spoken to the ability of the Latino Church to connect.  Where is the voice of the black “man” in Catholicism who can speak to that, and could that be the answer to the problem?  Although overwhelmingly similar, there are different needs from an Afro-American point of view, who is answering those questions?

Donna Freitas

To:  Donna Freitas

From: Randolph Trumbach

Comment:  Long time evangelical college professor reports to me that students in such college get married very young to have sex and then have very high divorce rates – how does this compare with young Catholics?

To:  Donna Freitas

Comment:  What are evangelical Christians doing so differently that results in so many of their young people committing themselves to chastity and abstinence?

To:  Donna Freitas

Comment:  Our culture teaches that sex is nothing more than a physical act.  This view permeates the culture.  Must “Catholic” sex be free, total, faithful, and fruitful to be legitimate and non-debasing?  There are no many nuances to sexual satisfaction.  Can sex really be transcendent and elevating?  Or is the Church that’s telling me to wait until marriage just pulling the wool over my eyes?

Colleen Carroll Campbell

To:  Colleen Carroll Campbell

Comment:  In your study of the “new faithful,” what was the socio-economic and cultural/ethnic makeup of the group?  Where do minority young adults fall regarding sexual attitudes and orthodoxy?

To:  Colleen Carroll Campbell

Comment:  Where does this young Catholic minority stand on the question of gay marriage?

To:  Donna/Colleen

Comment:  With such a disconnect or difference between the typical Catholic university student and the “new faithful” – can you speak to ways in which the “new faithful’s” attitudes and devotion can be translated/applied to the more typical students’ experience to help them form a more authentic, resoned sexual ethic?

To:  Colleen Carroll Campbell

Comment:  If the Evangelical churches are seemingly encouraging their young to embrace the “don’ts” of sex enthusiastically as shown in the data the panelists shared, how are these churches doing so and what can Catholic churches borrow from this?

To:  Colleen Carroll Campbell

Comment:  How would you attract homosexual young people to the Catholic Church – either Catholic or non-Catholic?  These people have some of the deepest spiritualities and can’t find a place in the church.

To:  Colleen Carroll Campbell

Comment:  You spoke a great deal about the teachings on chastity.  Could you speak about your feelings with homosexuality?  Could there be as many young gay Catholics participating in chastity and working toward that lasting love?

To:  Colleen Carroll Campbell

From:  Dr. Tom Malone

Comment:  You mentioned a supportive community with the same beliefs and a supportive community with spiritual and practical resources.  Would you kindly present us with some of these resources?  And how do we define and build a supportive community?

To:  Colleen Carroll Campbell

Comment:  How do we make the beauty of the faith and teachings personal to youth and not simply dogmatic or lecturing?

Patrick Landry, Paul Schutz

To:  Paul and Patrick

Comment:  How can sex/sexuality be more openly and concretely address and discussed in the Catholic Church?  How can it become more integrated/incorporated in the spirituality of faithful individuals and not just be considered part of life after marriage?

To:  Patrick Landry

Comment:  What is your suggestion to inform young people in homosexuality if what we have learned is that the purpose of a man and woman is to procreate?

Questions/Comments  Directed to Panel:

Comment:  Is it possible that we as a church are being invited into a new understanding of the Catholic faith, not only in the area of sexuality, by 20-somethings, and, if so, is it possible that wthere is a third path?  One that does not adhere to legalistic “rules” of Catholic social teaching and one that does not embrace the “anything goes” mentality but a third path- one that embraces the fullness of Catholic faith AND resonates with their deeply-felt lived experience?  If so, what are the implications of this?

Comment:  “Don’ts’ are education.  How do we infuse education around the Church’s teaching on sexuality and start the dialogue?  Pre-cana is too little, too late.

Comment:  All of the panelists in this session have spoken about the need for dialogue and conversation in regards to faith and sexual activity, yet the panel this morning and last night continued to avoid this topic.  How and when can we begin this ened for dialogue and conversation?

Comment:  Apart from procreation, what is sexual experience/engagement for?  What is the good of it?  This seems to me to be the unasked question.  Please address it.

Comment:  The Church continues to call homosexuals “inherently disordered” and condemns their liaisons, but does not articulate how homosexuals can find affection, companionship, and security.  When is the church going to address this very human condition and need?

Comment:  You did a great job defining the “hook-up” culture and college students’ dissatisfaction with it, as well as ways to talk to them about it in terms of their faith.  However, in secular morality, the positive alternative is not chastity in the Catholic understanding, but a focus on reconnection emotion and sexuality in committed, loving relationship – regardless of whether this relationship is between people of the same sex, or people who are unmarried.  How can Catholic communities respond or adapt to this compelling morality?

From:  Rachel Mueller

Comment:  What would JPII’s call to a new evangelization look like in terms of helping 20-somethings reconnect with the Church?

Comment:  What about “the woman” issue?

Comment:  How does someone not planning to marry (maybe looking at religious or single life) understand their own sexuality?

Comment:  If living together is something many Catholics think can be good, why do we think “living together is not what the Catholic Church teaches?”

From:  Aryanna Fernando

Comment:  What’s with the Catholic guilt thing?  I believe this is a block for young men and women who were raised Catholic.

From:  Annette, 60-something mother and grandmother of a bunch of frustrated Catholics

Comment:  1) Re: longing to connect.  Please comment on what so many catholics are feeling – the disconnect between the hierarchical-institutional church and the church of the people of God.  2) Is there polarization between young involved Catholic – very conservative politically – and young “lost” Catholics who reject the institutional Church’s positions on birth control, homosexuality, similar polarization between conservative young priests and their older colleagues.

Comment:  I am very concerned about my 19 year-old son and 16-year-old daughter going for homosexuality.  I cannot accept it.  Please give me your insight/thoughts.

Comment:  how do you think 20-somethings are responding to the all the “accepted” sex shown on TV and movies and commercials?

Bill McGarvey

To:  Bill McGarvey and Tom Beaudoin

From:  Rachel Mueller

Comment:  Do you think the current disappearance of Catholic art and imaginative expression is reflective of Catholicism’s current shame over its identity?  How does Catholicism’s failure to own its identity (beliefs, purpose, passion) inhibit it from relating to young people and expressing that identity and relating with culture through art?

To:  Bill McGarvey

Comment:  1) Do Millennials have any responsibility to “listen, engage, invite, connect” to different generational cohorts?  2)  If not, how do they magically do this when their children/nieces/nephews become 20-somethings and they are in their 40s and 50s?  Do they think they will be the first generation to ever have done this?  Why?

To:  Bill McGarvey and panel

Comment:  In an era of the internet, one could easily posit that the relationships and information we get and maintain are diluted.  How can we maintain the integrity of the Catholic message through a viral means in an effort to “meet them where they are?”

To:  Rachel Bundang and Bill McGarvey

Comment:  How do we engage the millennials in addition to the 20-somethings and what do you think caused the millennials to become “apathetic” to the organized church?

To:  Bill McGarvey/Rachel Bundang

From:  Thomas Wiley

Comment:  Mr. McGarvey discussed transparency in the church.  What would a transparent Church that invites the kind of “seeking” so resonant with young people look like?

To:  Bill McGarvey

From:  Dan Geary

Comment:  explain more of what you mean by “seeker.”  To what extent do you think 20-somethings are genuinely “seeking” God/meaning/answers?  Do you see a yearning in people, or an indifference to the questions that have moved people in the past?

To:  Bill McGarvey

Comment:  Do you think there is something new emerging within church and culture?

To:  Bill and Rachel

Comment:  What about the claim that social media is helpful as a space primarily for young adults, a private generation – only space, that will be tainted or destroyed by proselytizing by an oder generation looking to speak a language they don’t understand?

To:  Bill

From:  Mark Shiner

Comment:  What role do you see for popular styles of music in the Church?  What are the mechanisms for connection between church as church and popular culture?

Rachel Bundang

To:  Rachel Bundang

From:  Someone of oriental descent

Comment:  How to encourage non-anglos to mix with people outside their own ethnicity?  General perception:  Charge of anglo “dominating” non-anglo, but other races are also alienating (inadvertently) themselves by forming their own gatherings, i.e. Spanish, Italian, Korean Masses vs. English Masses.  Quandary of retaining ethnic cultural identity and integrating oneself with different ethnic background. 

To:  Rachel Bundang

Comment:  You and the other speakers have insisted that the Church needs to meet 20-somethings where they are.  Doesn’t the Church also have the mandate from Christ to bring them to THE Way, Truth, and Life, as Christ said, “Teach them all I have commanded.”

To:  Rachel Bundang

Comment:  Briefly explain (an eye-opener) how do black and Latino use the internet differently from white?

To:  Rachel Bundang

From:  Nicholas Coppola

Comment:  Where is the diversity?  Proper representation is needed.  If this is a conference about the “lost” 20-somethings and how do we get them to the church, why aren’t they here?  I think they can answer better than any poll or stat.

To:  Rachel Bundang

Comment:  I really appreciate your comment about the term “moral relativism” being dismissive and shutting down conversation.  Millenials, more than any other generation, are in contact with peoples and cultures different from their own throughout the world, and called to engage with the truths found in all of them.  A rhetoric of faith and recognizes these subtleties could go a long way in relating to young people.

Rachel Bundang

To:  Rachel Bundang

Comment:  If we were to discuss morals from a contextual viewpoint (moral relativistic), how would we teach ethics to 20-somethings.

To:  Rachel Bundang

From:  Krissy Bodhar

Comment:  I was wondering if based on your background in feminist ethics and theologies, you could offer some insights on how 20-somethings view the role of women in the Church.  With there being so many spiritual women in the world, is the all-male leadership a factor in alienating female millennials from the Church?

Amanda Dalosio

To:  Amanda Dalosio

Comment:  I’m touched by how you connected the Eucharist with, among other things, giving people solace and strength to deal with whatever people encounter in the world. 

To:  Amanda Dalosio

From: Fr. Rob Powers ( 

Comment:  An audience member should honestly before her boredom with Catholic way.  For one who is nourished spiritually at Mass, what advice would you give clergy to create conditions by which young adults would be engaged in liturgy?

Questions/Comments for the Panel:

From:  Genevieve Jordan

Comment:  One point of overlap between popular culture and Catholic church teaching is doing service and caring for the poor.  Activism is “in.”  Can this be the back door for inviting young adults to participate in Church?

From:  Stephanie Pennacchia

Comment:  Since all “faith is local,” as pointed out by Bill and Rachel, do any of the panelists have concerns of their possible limited understanding of the relationship between Gen X and the social media developed in/for that generation?  Do they recognize themselves as technically not coming from the locality of today’s media?  Do they think this negatively affects their ability to critique?

Comment:  What about continuing adult faith formation via Catholic radio, TV, books, websites, for young adults?  Can they be encouraged to educate themselves better?  Is not this what true education leads to?  After college?

To:  “Frenemies”

Comment:  Bill McGarvey:  It seems that “religious illiteracy” is not simply a 20-something problem.  Many 20-somethings are as knowledgeable or more than their older counterparts. It seems it’s more a problem of bad press or misinformation.  Matthew Boudway:  In my experience as a former Mormon and as a 20-something, I’ve noticed the 2-year mission is having an increasingly damaging effect on young men.  Required commitment is one of the problems 20-somethings in the Church don’t like.  All:  Facebook is not the end-all, be-all for 20somethings.  It is not all of our attention, but it is a good way to communicate.  Some 20-somethings don’t know what is available in parish life/ministry/outreach because resources are not too readily available.

Comment:  The church should use social media as a way to organize young adult ministry. has been a great way to get the word out about long island, New York , young adult fellowship.  The diocese of Rockville Centre, Long Island , NY , young adults.

Comment:  It seems as we look back on history that this “frenemy” relationship plays out in every generation in its own way with the older generation struggling against the changing culture of generation struggling against the changing culture of the younger generation.  We talked about how Catholicism can intervene in popular culture, but in what ways can elements of popular culture intervene in Catholicism?  What do we need to learn from the 20-somethings

Comment:  Are there sites for 20s to go to in the privacy of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn?

Comment:  Do you consider it true that a separate “youth culture” is essentially a U.S. construct which has been exported to other cultures via media?  If so, how can we come to understand and respect “age integrated” cultures?

Comment:  Should the question be can you have faith in popular culture and how do you keep your faith living in popular culture?

Marilyn Santos

To:  Marilyn & Meredith

From:  Margaret (JVC)

Comment:  Do you think it’s possible and/or positive for young adults to integrate across diverse backgrounds (i.e. for the Latino youth to integrate with anglo and other youth)?  What recommendations do you have for this?  What do you thinkw e can learn from each other?

To:  Marilyn

From:  Rachel Mueller

Comment:  Do you think the Catholic Latino community is stronger in ways because the church is core to their culture, whereas for anglo-white culture, the Church in compartmentalized and put on the periphery?  How could the church as a whole follow suit?

To:  Ms. Santos

From:  Nicholas Coppola

Comment:  I understand the importance of different ministries.  Do you feel you are endorsing and teaching separation within the Church?  Why root just young Catholics?  One Church.


Tami Schmitz

To:  Tami Schmitz

From:  Fr. Rob Powers

Comment:  Yes, catechesis is needed.  Should the homily at Mass be catechetical more often than it is?

To:  Tami Schmitz

From:  Tom Malone

Comment:  How do you pastorally work with the couples that are living together?  Meredith – thank you for some activities/solutions!

To:  Tami Schmitz

Comment:  What are your thoughts on Notre Dame moving from a very traditional Catholic college to the “left?”

To:  Tami Schmitz

Comment:  The treatment Jerry got at the new parish is quite typical.  He’s young and the pastor is most likely over 70.  The pastor is a part of an entity that talks good about sharing control with laity but makes only a token gesture towards sharing it.

To:  Tami/Anyone

From:  Jeff Klein, U. of Pennsylvania Newman Ctr.

Comment:  Do college campus ministers have a responsibility to specifically and directly address with students the often difficult transition from campus to parish?  If so, what are the best practices?

  Joseph Nuzzi

To: Joe

From:  Rachel Mueller

Comment:  Practically and concretely, how do we implement the new evangelization in parishes?  It still feels like “rocket science.”

To:  Joseph

From:  Tim Kunz

Comment:  Did Jesus speak Greek?  Was the table fellowship that Jesus enjoyed serious enough?  Is music something we listen to, or does participating make liturgy our work?  Is the Tridentine Mass the best contemporary expression of Eucharist?  Where/when did priesthood enter the Church?  Does a Christian get fed at Mass or give as well as receive?  JFK’s “Ask not…”  The Eucharist is the way of life that Christians gather to celebrate.  It is a celebration of Jesus’ relational way of being – of his radical openness to each other and his willingness to enter receiving and giving relationships.  The Eucharist is the action of the living and doing in our time what he did in Palestine 2000 years ago.  The fullness of being human consists in no more or less.


Comment:  Why do we think the church has avoided or neglected/ignored teach our young adults (during their formative years) about a deeper, more contemplative (meaningful) experience of God.  Varieties of prayer, silence, meditation, lectio, etc.?  Don’t we think this foundation is fundamental to a more meaningful faith experience?  Must a more personal experience of God be relegated to monasteries only?

Comment:  This is perhaps a variation of a question from last night:  what would you have the Church do to:  engage and empower those who are staying?  Re-engage those who are going?


Comment:  You are right when you say that parish has power, and can welcome people (homosexuals, unmarried, etc.).  However, are parishes ready to embrace this reality, instead of pointing fingers and keeping these people away?  So, I agree that by changing parishes (improving parish life) we change those in dioceses up.

Comment:  In this marketplace for discipleship, the Catholic Church can’t be all things to all people.  How can it compete with the more gilded evangelical churches in bringing in potential believers?

Comment:  As his confirmation sponsor, what do I say to my 25-year old borther when he says he never even thinks about God or spirituality?

From:  Rachel Mueller

Comment:  Do you think it possible that part of why 20-somethings feel disengaged from Catholics liturgy lies in a tendency for Catholic music to do poor imitations of evangelical and pop music, rather than offering what it uniquely has to offer?  Imitation, rather than creativity?

From:  Krissy Bodhar

Comment:  Many 20-somethings are recent college graduates who have spent the past few years of their lives in engaging, on-campus Catholic communities.  Do you believe that they are looking for those qualities in their new parishes?  Are they finding what they are looking for?

Comment:  Might individual spiritual direction be offered widely to 20-somethings as a means for them to be connected to the Church in this age of individualism?  Also, might spiritual reading groups be organized for 20-somethings, since many are well-educated but poorly informed on Catholic issues/role models?  Emphasis seems to have been on social activities/projects?

Comment:  Was there a correlative level of activity in the 1950s that parallels the high commitments of volunteer work that some young adults engage in, such as the Catholic Worker, the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, ACE, or other Catholic volunteer organizations?  If so, what did that look like and if not, would it be safe to say those who are highly engaged in their faith now are more engaged than their mid-century counterparts?


Comment:  Most 20-somethings are a product of CCD parish catechesis.  That seems to have been ineffective.  Knowing this – what does the church plan to do to help better prepare our children/tweens, teens for the future so that they can feel God in Mass?

From:  Doug Lory

Comment:  So much of what has been said points to the gaping hole in the formation of young adults in their need for meaning, faith, and even the personal/mystical experience of God.  How do “we the people,” the Church, insist that our Church leaders acknowledge culpability and short-sightedness in these areas?

To:  Any Speaker

From:  Kathryn Erat

Comment:  We are not giving enough attention to the influence over the last 30 years that most anglo-Catholics are being educated at secular colleges and the official ministry of the Church to these college students is not as extensive as it should be.  The Church needs to evaluate where it is placing its resources in ministry.

Comment:  Perhaps tangential to today’s conference, but what about catechesis of 30 and 40-somethings, who are raising 20-somethings and soon-to-be 20-somethings?  Is there a catechetical gap fo the past Vatican II generation in general that needs attention?  How?

Comment:  What would you suggest as a form of ongoing education about the faith for the young adults that make their confirmation and pretend they have “graduate” the Church and leave?

Comment:  How much, if at all, do you think that our focus should begin with disassembling the crippling effect of today’s moral relativism as we look at why the numbers of young Catholics are declining?

From:  Tim Kunz

Comment:  What are the “basic elements of faith?”  What can you teach about Mary?  How should they read sacred scripture?  How does one find a personal relationship with god apart from human relationships?  How do we deal with Church history?

Comment:  Why are we surprised at the disaffection of many 20-somethings from the Church when: their faith was lightly planted with Baptism often beyond early infancy and outshone by a party, their faith was weekly nourished with limited religious education, even in Catholic schools, and they are living in a post-Christian environment which prizes only their secular accomplishments?

Fr. Beloin

To:  Fr. Bob Beloin

From:  Catholic campus minister

Comment:  While many students I work with are illiterate Catholics (“cultural Catholics” to me), the truly educated Catholics are the conservative students.  How can more liberal, social-justice-orietnted families educate their children in Catholicism? 

To:  Bob Beloin, Malik Muhammed

Comment:  Since a huge part of generation X being seemingly “lost” is due to a deficiency in their parents’ own religiosity, would you say that the main issue is with the previous generation?  Are we overlooking, perhaps, that is it they who are lost?

From:  Helen Lee, Fordham Undergrad

Comment:  Robert commented on the high percentage of Catholics who reject church teaching, citing papal infallibility and homosexuality.  I would argue that they are rejecting these teachings because they fundamentally do not understand them.  A lot has been said about getting young people to show up, but what can be done to ensure that once they show up (in Mass or another venue), they are being taught correctly and in a way that they can understand?


Questions & Comments to the Panel

Comment:  Has the Catholic Church ever been “convenient?”

From:  A 20-something

Comment:  What do you think it says about the way that previous generations here today laughed and were amused by the testimonials of generation X in the video shown earlier?  Is there some degree of “not taking seriously” the concerns of our generation?

Comment:  As our world evolves, so do our generations.  Is there any hope in Catholicism adapting to our evolutionized generations to accept and embrace their diversity and who they are to help them engage in participation?  Have a sense of belonging and reassuring them to still be a part of the Catholic community?  What is the solution to our youth drifting away?

Comment:  The older panel last night seemed to say the sex abuse scandal wasn’t turning away 20-somethings.  Are they not listening or afraid to ask and report to the irresponsible response of lay, clerical, and leaders?

From:  Tim Kunz

Comment:  The framing of the question of homosexual marriage is missing an essential concept.  Marriage “rights” were created in an era when marriage = family with children.  There was a rapid change from 1960’s on, in this equation.  My concern is to separate “human rights” of association from the financial support needed by persons engaged in the expense (financial) emotional, overextended time) of raising children.  Of course, sexual orientation does not change the need for societal support for parents.

Comment:  With all that was/is being said at these various conferences, what about the basic purpose of eternal salvation, eternal destiny, eternal life?

Comment:  What is to be said about the Africa-American/Black/Caribbean arm of the Catholic Church?  Everyone has spoken to the ability of the Latino Church to connect.  Where is the voice of the black “man” in Catholicism who can speak to that, and could that be the answer to the problem?  Although overwhelmingly similar, there are different needs from an Afro-American point of view, who is answering those questions?

Comment:  How can the Church reconcile with the majority of young people who see the value of women clergy?

Comment:  Do you think the popular Catholic opinion that the sacraments are not necessary for salvation might contribute to why young adults don’t frequent Mass and confession?


Questions & Comments to the Panel:

Comment:  If doctrinal dissent over values and lifestyles is “periphery,” what does Catholic mean?  And what is the point of doctrine in the first place?  It’s too easy to say it’s “peripheral when the data suggests a serious concern among 20-somethings.

From: Angela Taveras

Comment:  If we say that we need to be inviting, we need to make people feel welcomed.  I found it very disrespectful and against what we are about the fact that no support was given to the lady who voiced her concern about black communities.  Even though this conference was not about diversity (though that’s a big factor), someone should have said something about why there was no mention of that community throughout the day.  Or even an apology.  As a church, we really need to start acknowledging issues/concerns instead of just avoiding it.

From:  Rachel Mueller

Comment:  Do you think the disconnect between 20-somethings and the Church is reflective of the Church itself being lost and/or being ashamed and unsure of her Catholic identity?  How might this be unappealing to 20-somethings?

Comment:  Especially given that 20-somethings don’t fit into the liberal-conservative binary, to what extent are the issues being debated at this conference older people using 20-somethings to fight battles that are not their issues?

Comment:  If we, as Church, by our attitudes portray a God who is biased and unwelcoming to people because of age, gender, sexuality, or difference of opinion, then “20-somethings” are not getting a true “God” image.  They won’t believe that an unopen attitude truly reflections an all-loving and all-forgiving God.  They will find another way!

From:  Tim Kunz

Comment:  I have been involved in ministry to this cohort for 40+ years in sacramental preparation.  I offer three observations.  We will not be relevant in the 21st century until:  we recognize the interpenetration of Einstein’s relativity and the Trinity, we recognize interdependence and relationality as the primary descriptors of humanity as in divinity, and we recognize the “action of Eucharist” – radical openness to other and the giving and receiving of selves as the fullest expression of the Divine.  Until these awarenesses penetrate all aspects of religion and science; we will continue to become less relevant in the first world.

Comment:  What are the strengths and weaknesses of a hierarchical church in responding to these concerns?  The strengths and weaknesses of our parochial organization?

Comment:  How to invite/attract people to the Catholic Church?  First and foremost, if they’ve had a bad experience, apologize.  I can’t believe no one on the stage responded to the African-American woman’s comment from the audience in the last session.

Comment:  How was your faith/spiritual life when you were a 20-something?  Was there any guidance from “older” people (were they any different/special from our older generation)?

Comment:  If the question is have we lost/are we losing young Catholics – why is it worth them returning?  Why do we want 20-somethings to be part of the church?  Maybe they are better off elsewhere.

Comment:  What changes in the church are essential to engage the young as well as the older persons in a real way?

Comment:  What thoughts, recommendations do you have for Orthodox Catholic parents trying to guide their 20-somethings to a richer, stronger faith?

From:  Philip Schweiger

Comment:  There’s an assumption that estrangement from the church is a problem, but maybe we should ask why.  What do we fear young people are missing by moving away from the church – and do we believe the church is actually able to fill this need?

Comment:  Why do many educated Catholics, including university professors, seem reluctant to urge Church participation by the young?  It seems as if they consider such encouragement intellectually embarrassing in our secular society.  Doesn’t Catholicism embrace faith and reason?

Comment:  What does the data say about and/or what would you recommend to the diaspora of Arab-speaking Eastern Church Catholics ministering to 1st- and 2nd-generation 20-somethings?


Comment:  What about the many 20-somethings who are in the military?  Stationed in war zones and vets back from war?  What are their needs?  How is the Church supporting them?  Do they need the Church?

Comment:  Does the bible (gospel) suggest Jesus was celibate?  I don’t think so.  He stated do not judge.

From:  Tim Kunz

Comment:  The creed we recite is an expression of the neo-Platonic worldview.  There are statements within the creed that are absurd from the perspective of 21st-century persons.  A reformulation of the Creed would/could become an expression of the human reality recognizable to the many for whom the church is not relevant.  The process would be liberating and invitational…

Comment:  For a Catholic event, I didn’t see any prayer (but then, I missed the opening evening).  If 20-somethings don’t know how to pray, we didn’t give them an example of it.

Comment:  What of real value does the church have to offer young adults?  What mechanisms are available to provide it?

Comment:  Do the changes described in the church resonate back and forth with changes in American society or whole? 

Comment:  If the main reasons young Catholics are leaving their faith based on moral issues, with the increase of moral theologians, will this alleviate or stop the “bleeding?”

Comment:  Did two of the three speakers minimize the importance of the Eucharist in Catholic life?

From:  Tim Kunz

Comment:  Eucharist, as love, begins no in self-gift, but in radical openness to the other as OTHER.  The action of eucharist is the self-revelation of god in humanness.  It is both receiving and giving of self.  The disaster of the feudal Church is that it exists only by taking, but sees itself as in the business of only giving.  Practically celibacy has warped the relational human reality.

Comment:  Latinos – increasing:  they will not grow as immigration (ICE) continues to send them away?!

Comment:  Why are there so few Hispanic priests part of Hispanic immigration to the U.S. ?  Why are there so few Hispanic seminarians in the U.S. ?

Comment:  Parents and grandparents did build the Church of the past.  However, this statement diminishes the role of religious men and women in the church both past and present.

From:  Sr. Mary Pat White, RSCJ

Comment:  What can we do to bring about major reform in the church that is so needed?

From: Li-Ess Baptiste

Comment: The conference was a great start. I hope the conference happens next year this time outreaching toward Church Young Adult groups and Catholic University students to get their input. For example, St. Paul's has an active Young Adult community and was across the street from Fordham which probably also has young Catholics. In this outreach, the title should be changed to "Young Adults and the Church: Lost or Found in Each Other"? It's not a major change, but it demonstrates a relationship where both sides can contribute to solutions.

The first conference was good because leaders got to meet, discuss, and ultimately connect with each other. Likewise a second conference will provide the same for young adults. They as a group may provide the same insight, but the conference will help to build a sense of community and contribution to the Church. It is even possible that they have even more to add to the first conference. If this were to take place, consult the AV department about setting up a live, real time feed of conference tweets. They should be able to connect a computer to a projector, so the audience may see the tweets. A hashtag like #CatholicYA or #CYA or #NYCYA should be used in the tweet to recognize when a tweet related to the conference is mentioned.

If outreach is done to the different Churches and Schools in this area, we may not be able to fit others from across the nation. Hence it may be wise to have a simultaneous conference at significant points in the country. In this instance, consult with other Dioceses to gage interest and commitment. They or course could use site specific hashtag i.e. #TXCYA or #MICYA or #ATLCYA.

The above comments and questions were transcribed from written submissions by participants at the conference, “LOST? Twenty-Somethings and the Church”, held at Fordham University January 28-29, 2011, co-sponsored by the Francis and Ann Curran Center for American Catholic Studies, and the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture.

For further information please contact the Curran Center at, or





















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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