The data presented in Chapter 1 echos and confirms many of the same facts and figures that Fr. William J. Bausch’s trilogy The Parish of the next Millennium, Catholics in Crisis and Brave New Church written from 1998 to 2001; Twenty-Third Publications, pointed to over a decade ago. I see some signs in the parishes we've been blessed to participate in from Arizona, Colorado, Texas and now Oregon that at least recognition of the crisis exists.
I was baptized as an infant - so yes, I've always been Catholic. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and experienced the divorce of my parents when I was eight - so much for Catholic School. I did attend one year of Catholic High School and God made sure some pretty awesome folks crossed my path. They and the example my father set maintained my awareness of God even through my college years. It wasn't until being away from the Church in our early 20’s that my wife and I came back and I first experienced having a relationship with God.
Ongoing adult education and a couple of conversion experiences in the early 90’s helped me develop an adult faith life. As for the members of my family - even extended family e.g. cousins, most have drifted away from the church. Why or what events are the cause? Divorce, teen pregnancy, and relocations are some of the reasons why I feel most members no longer practice their faith.
Ongoing catechesis, into adult life helps form a foundation for a mature faith life. I believe that until one experiences real crisis, the need for God isn't even contemplated much today. We've lost the sense of mystery and a willingness to explore it in our “just Google it and there’s your answer” society. I’m not saying one needs to personally experience a miracle, but there need to be conversion moments, to “know with your knower” just how much God loves you - right here, right now.
On the parish level - yes we do have a school associated with ours; my estimate of 8th graders still practicing their faith at 18 would be 10 - 15% and at 24, 5 - 10%. The staying in touch part is key - it’s so easy to drift away. There are a handful of high schoolers and young adults that I call “my heros” and they are the ones that give me hope.