Thursday, November 02, 2006

Energizing the Millenials

Visiting Boston College yesterday, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tuscon gave a lecture on the future of ministry in the church:
In the third millennium, today's generation of Catholics are responsible for spreading the word of God's mission and acting as disciples of Jesus Christ, said Kicanas. "Who could explain why Jesus has pointed at us and invited us to follow him? None of us are deserving of the call given us, yet Jesus invited us to be his disciples in the here and now."

To illustrate his point, Kicanas related his story of visiting Rome and viewing the painting "The Calling of Matthew" by Caravaggio. In the painting, Jesus is pointing at Matthew, and Matthew responds by pointing at himself, as if to say, "Who, me?" said Kicanas.

"Undeserving as he was, he was called out by Jesus to be someone through whom God's work was accomplished."

Kicanas also emphasized the importance of realizing that as God's children, each person is loved and blessed by the Father. He spoke of a man who had witnessed parents bestowing their love upon their young son at his bar mitzvah, and the closeness he felt with God at that moment. "In that moment, he experienced the feeling that he as the beloved child of God. All of us have had that moment, and it is on this bedrock that we can build our mission," said Kicanas....

The largest issue facing the church today is the lack of enthusiasm on the part of the youngest generation of Catholics, known as the "millennials," said Kicanas.

He quoted former executive editor of the Catholic newspaper The Tablet Annabel Miller, who explained that the Catholic Church is experiencing a sudden loss of patrons for three reasons: loss of trust in institutions in general, lack of relation between people's lives and the church's teachings, and an absence of passion among the youth....

One of the most important issues facing the church today is how to hand down the tradition of the Catholic faith to the newest generation of the church, he said.

It is predicted that in the next few years, the number of highly committed Catholics will diminish by one-third, said Kicanas. People will still identify themselves as Catholics, but will begin to attend church much less frequently. "We have to ensure that the youth, too, understand that they are called and chosen, loved and blessed, and entrusted with the mission to carry on the work of Jesus," said Kicanas.
Good to see that somebody else's talking about it.... We thought the bishops forgot about us.

In other BC lecture news, tonight Boston Globe columnist James Carroll's waxing "Toward a Democratic Catholic Church." Carroll is a former Paulist priest.

And from the video section, in case you haven't already seen it, Archbishop Michael Miller, CSB, secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, gave a September lecture on "Catholic Higher Education in the US." Before his appointment to the Vatican post in 2003, the Ottawa-born naturalized American served as president of Houston's University of St Thomas.