Millennial Catholics, What are we waiting for?
Millennials are ready now.
That’s what we tell our elders right? We say we’re ready for more responsibility at work, more money, more stuff to do. We go on about wanting to make a meaningful difference and wanting to do it right now.
We moan at times that there’s nothing for us in the church after youth ministry, until we’re much older. We wonder why our parish isn’t more friendly to people in our age bracket. We have ideas that might, combined with our pastors’ guidance, help our parish attract our generational brethren.
So what are we waiting for?
When I was hired to come work here in my home archdiocese, I had some catching up to do. I started reading The Catholic Telegraph online when a quote caught my attention. The story was about a two-day convocation of diocesan employees, but as a 29-year-old reporter the following quote stood out.
“I would refer to the young people as the church of the future but I was quickly put in my place,” Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr said, referring to his time working with now-Saint Pope John Paul II on World Youth Day. “They want to contribute now.”
He’s right. We want to contribute now. The archbishop has made the young people of this archdiocese a priority of his episcopacy, as St. John Paul II did his pontificate. It is time we millennials repay that confidence.
That we can contribute now is something I’ve tried to take to heart in my short church-world career. Sometimes our energy and desire to contribute brings us up against the old trope “we’ve always done it this way” or another antiquated axiom, and that’ll happen. St. John Paul II understood, and others will too when they see we’re not coming from a place of arrogance or impetuosity, but a genuine desire to be a part of Christ’s mission with the gifts we have.
It is time for millennials to get in the game when it comes to church life and I’m not talking about hashtags and online awareness campaigns. I’m talking about the tangible, real-life, human-to-human contact world where the work of the church is done.
If your parish isn’t your ideal place, don’t skip over to the coffee-and-donut mega-church or complain in an online forum. Instead, get involved. Ask your pastor if they need volunteers for the summer festival, or the fish fry, or to be lectors or Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Ask if parish council needs some young blood. See if you finish the sentence before he hands you a signup sheet.
Connect at CatholicCincinnati.org to find ways to get involved in pro-life ministry, social justice, prison ministry etc. If you really don’t believe there are ministries for you, talk to your pastor.
If you want a job with more meaning than chasing the bottom line, consider working for the church in either a parish, diocesan or missionary role somewhere. See the links at the bottom of this column for a starting point.
Every great idea that comes to fruition starts with someone doing something, not just posting about it on Instagram.
St. John Paul II and Archbishop Schnurr aren’t millennials. But the late Holy Father and our local shepherd get it. Millennials aren’t the church of the future, we’re part of the church now.
The youngest millennial Catholics right now are 16. The oldest are 33. The older half of us have jobs and families and other commitments. The younger are working on education and finding their way in the world. Fulfilling our vocations as students, spouses, seminarians etc. is our first obligation in serving the church, but if we’re really ready to do more, now is the time.
We will never have more energy to get involved than we do right now — until maybe when we retire.
By then some other upstart columnist will be writing about a new generation of youth and how its their time to come of age in the church.
Between now and then, what are we waiting for?
Author’s Note: Speaking of stepping up and taking big roles, this is my final Millennial Catholic column for The Catholic Telegraph as I’ve taken the position of Manager of Communications and Marketing for the Glenmary Home Missioners.
I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished at the CT, and I’m looking forward to contributing to the growth of the church in my new role. Readers I ask for your prayers, and be assured you are ever in mine.
In necessaries unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas.
Ways to get involved
Find a parish
Ministries and Offices of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati
Previous Millennial Catholic columns
From Columbine to Dallas, this millennial is sick of the violence
The Internet: Excuse killer for collegiate Catholics
Faith in the age of Internet comments
Why aren’t more Millennials in the pew? Let’s ask
Millennials at Mass: To whom shall we go?
“Bad” Catholic school experience helped student become better man