Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The hope in our youth

Confirmation group May 2015

The month of May was filled with dynamic steps in the life of our youth.  We celebrated Confirmation and First Communion as well as college and high school graduations.  Yet, what will there future be?
Two of our three graduates in Maynardville. We also had one college graduate.
The only one of six Catholic graduates in Rutledge who attends Mass

In Sherry Weddell's book, "Forming Intentional Disciples" she opens with some startling statistics. Here are a few: 

24% of 18 - 29 years old do not belong to any religion.

From 2000 - 2009 nearly four times as many adults have left as have entered the Catholic Church in the United States.

Of those who left the Catholic Church, 71% "just drifted away" and of 79% left by age 23.

Furthermore, 42% of those who left do not even believe in God.
The first communion group at BTC, May 2015
The first communion group of JP II, May 2015

Given these realities what will become of the smiling and happy youth who just made their sacraments of communion and confirmation?  What will become of our graduates?

I deeply hope that their experiences through the Catholic Church and these sacraments help them know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, as their friend and brother.  These sacraments of Holy Communion, the reception of Jesus in his body and blood (see John 6),  and Confirmation, "being sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit" will be the beginning of a dynamic life lived in Christ. 
The reception of the Body of Christ
The reception of the Blood of Christ

Our world is full of violence, greed, indifference, and self-centeredness.  Poverty and disease still affect vast populations in the world.  Christ came to announce the Reign of God ... of new way ... a way of justice, peace, mercy and hope.  We need every committed Christian to stand up and deliver.

These young people are part of that plan, both now and in the future.  Already, they can do things in their schools, in the work force and in their homes to bring the light of Christ more clearly in the world.  Whatever they choice to do in adulthood, if it is guiding by the Holy Spirit and gives honor to God, it will help change the world.  
"Be Sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit"
"Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life ..."

Yet, so they do not become a "drop out of faith" statistic, the current church, especially, their parents and our local members, need to love them, challenge them and encourage them to be faithful to Christ.  We can do that best by our example and by spending time with them.
Three generations of faith

These pictures show youth with  great joy and hearts on fire with faith.  May we help that faith staying burning.
JP II first communicants preparing to sing "Let their be Peace on Earth"