Recently on a Sunday drive to Farmington down Route 4, I was stopped for what seemed like 15 minutes as large groups of very well dressed young adults with small children crossed the main road toward an enormous, large edifice that I had not seen before. Where were these crowds going? Come to find out, the new edifice was called Temple of Latter Day Saints. The young couples crossed in droves. I was amazed.
I am not of the millennial generation; but I have experienced in my parish the tremendously positive effect millennials, young people born between 1982 and 2014, have had in our church. These young people are a very important factor, because they are reluctant to accept the response “because we have always done it that way.” They want authenticity and vulnerability of character. They want to be trusted to complete a task excellently. While they respect some traditional practices and reject others, undeniably they firmly believe that Jesus loves all of us – they do not judge culture, ethnicity or orientation. Some millennials select the modern Mormon Temple as a place of worship because they believe it is a spiritual place where His spirit resides. They do not want to listen to homilies about questions that they are not asking, but rather how they can engage in making the world a better place. This generation has been brought up with the task to create a vision and a plan to accomplish it. Can you think of a more results directed constituency to safeguard and grow the Catholic Church?
I, a baby boomer, challenge the individuals and their fellow millennials to find a Catholic Church and to become engaged in the many missions available to young people with a desire to change the church of my generation and to set it on firm footing for future generations of children. Offer your point of view and work for change – after all you are ‘the change for the better’ generation. For example in many Catholic churches there are a great many missions of the church, as many as 50 – extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, lectors, garden stewards, a prayer shawl ministry, birthright, men’s and women’s clubs, finance council, rosary group, liturgy, youth faith formation, young adult youth ministry choral music, dinner preparation for homeless or elderly, and so much more.
Become engaged in these ministries and work for the justice you hold in such esteem. Indifference can never strengthen a community or effect growth, change, and longevity. And if this has not been a convincing charge, let us not forget that spirituality may exist in many places, but only in the Catholic faith does spirituality come to life in the sacraments – outward signs instituted by Christ to give grace (God’s love for us.) Only in the Catholic faith do we receive the body and blood of Christ each time the bread and wine are consecrated. These are not mere symbols. This is truly the most authentic experience you will ever have.
There are many pastors who have the uncanny ability to address everyday questions about faith that we all have. Finding a pastor with this talent is worth the search. A local pastor shared a charming story at the Easter vigil Mass this year. A second grade teacher asked her class what they wanted to be when they grow up. They responded doctors, lawyers, policemen, firemen, teachers, etc. One small boy remained silent and so the teacher concerned about this asked him quietly why he did not respond. He was quick to answer that he wanted to be possible. She was confused and asked him to explain. He quipped, my mother always calls me Impossible – so I want to be Possible. The pastor followed up by saying that possible is exactly the gift that Jesus gave us with his death and resurrection, the possibility of eternal life with Him in Heaven. He took a relatable scenario to young parents and stated a poignant and central belief.
Suspend your objections and doubts about the church, and consider the change you can make in your life as well as the life of others by coming back to the Catholic Church. According to the 2017 census there are more than 83.5 million millennials in the United States; only your vision and active engagement can bring about successful change in the church – as well as fill your own life with hope, faith, and love.