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How to Accompany Young Catholics

Young people today seek direction for their lives. They are hungry and thirsty for the Word of God explained to them in an accessible and meaningful manner.

"Only 14 percent of Catholic millennial young adults go to Mass every Sunday. Research indicates that most young people disaffiliate from the faith between the ages of 10 and 12. Young couples are not looking to get married in the church, nor are they bringing their children to be baptized. Many young people can articulate some of the church’s teachings but are not necessarily living passionate, faithfully Catholic lives. We are facing a crisis in the church today: the hemorrhaging of youth and young adults from our churches.” 

These are the words of a young adult, Katie McGrady, a U.S. delegate who participated in the preparation meeting of the Synod on the Youth at the Vatican last March. Her statements synthesize fairly well the religious practices of most young people nowadays.  

A growing number of youth profess no faith at all and disengage from any religious membership. In most countries of the western world, younger generations hardly attend Church celebrations. 

So, what can the Church do to stem the “hemorrhaging of young adults from our churches?” This and other pertinent questions will be in the agenda of this month’s Synod of Bishops taking place in Rome under the theme “Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment.” 

More than 300 delegates gathered in a pre-Synod on the Youth designed to listen to the inputs from young Catholics. One of the requests highlighted by the young delegates was the need for a better explanation and more formation on doctrinal issues, especially those touching on ethics. 

The accompaniment of young people is one of the main themes of the month-long Synod. What does it mean to accompany the youth? How can the Church accompany young people today?

It includes being with them,  attentive and respectful listening, and reaching out to those who have distanced themselves. Accompanying means breaking bread with, offering substantial spiritual nourishment, adequate formation, providing reasons for one's faith, putting things in perspective and offering directions.  

Therefore, young people today seek direction for their lives. They are hungry and thirsty for the Word of God explained to them in an accessible and meaningful manner. It is our hope that the Synod will provide some answers on how to accompany young Catholics.  

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