Bringing Back the Fallen-Away Young Catholics. Why don't people ask us why we left in the first place?

I’m a youngish Catholic revert who had a radical conversion of heart and returned in full force. I fell away in high school after I was scandalized by heretical catechisis, did a lot of things I’m not proud of, and purely by the Grace of God through the work of a very patient and humble priest who lives in the Confessional at my parish, I ended up back in the Church.

I attended some diocesan meeting/discussion about my generation of fallen away Catholics and how to get them back the other night. It was a joke. I found it rich that a group of people “of a certain age” were telling me why I, and many others like me, left the Church. When I told them what caused me to leave, and what caused me to return, several of the panel of priests actually scolded me for allowing myself to be scandalized and leaving. :eek:

Some of the various reasons the people there came up with for why we all left include:
*]Mass is too boring
*]Young people aren’t actively involved during Mass (IE: Being EMHC’s, Lectors, etc)
*]They can’t relate to the music

Generally all pretty superficial, as were their reasons for how to get us to return. It’s as if no one believes in sanctifying and actual grace anymore, or that Faith is an infused theological virtue, that is corrupted and lost by one single sin contrary to it. The only way to get it back is via Confession and absolution. They think they need to use banal and superficial means to get young Catholics back in the church, so rather than let God do what he does best, they get in the way of him.

I wasn’t the only revert there, and those who spoke up, got the same condescending treatment. They want to bring young Catholics back, but they don’t want to listen to those of us who left and came back, I have yet to hear from a fallen away Catholic that the reason they left was because they weren’t distributing communion or reading at Mass. Quite the contrary, as many who seem to return, attend the EF Mass, where these are not options, nor is there happy clappy music.

Good post.

What kinds of things drove you away? Examples?

What kinds of things would bring you back?

I am really interested in this because I would really like to see more young people at my parish.

Could you share your story, please?

Your f… story doesn`t interest anyone.Stupid apostate:mad:

A little over two months ago I reached the big 50. If you want my answer, it is not going to be pretty. But I will try to be as charitable as I can,
Many “late” (baby) boomers like myself did not relate to our older siblings when it came to politics, social issues, and spiritualality. They were excited at what they percieved as a “liberal” turn in the Church in the “spirit of Vatican 2” While they were excited about throwing off the ‘shackles’ of tradition and morals. We were taking a second look at what they threw into the religious dumpster.
Thier religion seemed phony, only to serve a ‘position’ in the community. While they ‘found’ what they wanted by throwing out the values our parents gave us, we were searching for those values. trying to reclaim them.
But with poor catechisis (touchy feely ‘religion’ classes at our Catholic schools at the time) we soon lost faith in the Church of our fathers. While priests and nuns were trying to look “cool” to our liberally minded older siblings, we were looking elsewhere for authority.
Some found it in atheism, others (like myself) began to be drawn to evangelical and fundamentalist churches that at least gave the appearance of a solid foundation.
Someone said once the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again, each time expecting different results. Take it from someone who has been there. The answer is not more of the same thing that drove them from the Church to begin with. The answer is a proper Catechisis, and a return to Tradition.
Youth can be drawn easily to what LOOKS like the truth, but it led to even more confusion as I got older.
As age and wisdom caught up with me, I realized I needed more authority than a self-appointed “pope with a Bible”.
God is faithful and patient. through the prayers of my family I returned to the Church five years ago.
When you’re seven years old and you run away from home, it’s a lot of fun at 12 noon. But by 6pm it’s not fun anymore, you want to return home.

I am very interested in your reasons. Please share.

That’s the same kind of stuff I heard at a catechetical conference I attended last May. Catechesis was barely mentioned, it was all about the music and making Mass ‘peppy’ to bring in people. Not one mention of teaching them what Mass actually is and why we go. It got to a point that I felt like asking if anyone there actually knew what the Church taught?

BTW, I am sorry you had this experience. They probably figured you are young and easily intimidated. Wish I had been there. Then again they might have escorted me to the door.:smiley:

My own experience with ex-Catholics (and some ex-Protestants, too) is that the Church can seem increasingly irrelevant to the world we live in. It tends to focus on the past - doctrines and rites that developed 1000-2000 years ago. Some of these appeal, but many do not. Many have a primitive and unscientific ring about them. Adoration of the Eucharist, for example. This deeply impresses many Catholics, but young Catholics often see it as a superstition. I know that can sound offensive to the devout, but this is where things are.

** The problem obviously is this. No changes in the Church can satisfy everyone**. Some want to return to pre-Vatican times with the ‘bells and smell’ that typified it, when there was an aura of mystery, when the priest was seen not so much as a ‘great guy’ but the representation of Christ, dressed in black with a collar. Others, however, want to move in the opposite direction. They want a more democratic church, with more power vested in the laity, the right of priests to marry, perhaps the ordination of female deacons, a more ecumenical spirit, etc.
It isn’t possible to have both. The Church has to decide**.

**As for myself, I would choose the second course - move forward** and not yearn for the 'good old days' when the hierarchy told the faithful what they must not read, when Protestants were 'heretics' and not 'separated brothers and sisters', when no one questioned the dogmas and dictates of the Church. Those days are gone. American Catholics have become well-educated, go to Harvard and Yale as well as Notre Dame and Boston College, and learn that while there is much inspiration in the Bible there also are many difficulties, contradictions and even bloody atrocities committed in the name of God. In order to hold on to them, the Church must allow a broader spectrum of opinion to be expressed in faith but freely. Most young people who give it serious thought have trouble with, say, the dogma of transubstantiation as well as the blanket condemnation of artificial birth control among responsible married couples who want to plan their families with loving concern for the future of each baby. 

** God bless everybody.**

I’m young-ish, too.

The thing that drove me away from enjoying Mass as a teen and adolescent were the “happy clappy teen-youth Masses”. That and the guitars and the drums and the “feel good” garbage. They are all so artificial, like rubber fish bait. It’s like they were trying to “reel me in” to the Church with “God is love and God is fun, and God likes to rock out” or whatever. In fact, my sisters and I used to giggle and snicker about the Christian rock music when they’d play it.

If I want to listen to rock music, I’m going to listen outside of church. If I want to go to Mass, I want to be there for solemnity, not for entertainment.

I still firmly believe my younger sisters were turned away from the Church due to this. I still stayed, mostly because of my solid catholic parish that I started to attend. They were rock solid, very formal, had an organ, incense, and many people were THERE FOR GOD.

I really hated the watered down Mass. YUCK.

I am a young Catholic right now. If there is anything that I don’t like about the Church is how in America they dumb down the faith for us. They make it all about the music and all about the fun. I don’t go on a single retreat for music or the silly hand motions that most of these feature. Center the Faith on Christ and you can’t go wrong, center the Faith on the music and you will only have superficial believers.

Wonderful idea for a thread.

Please do share your perspective.

I too am sorry you had this bad experience. If I might suggest, write a letter to your bishop expressing your feelings both about what happened to you at the meeting and also at what you feel would be more useful in reaching young Catholics before they fall away. My guess is that something similar will work to help bring back those who have already fallen away.
Don’t make the letter accusatory or critical of those at the meeting, just express your view that, as a young person yourself who has been through the experience, you see the thrust at the meeting as being off base, or in the wrong direction, or missing the deeper issues or …
Well you know best what to write.

Hopefully the Bishop will read and perhaps it could lead you to a very interesting ministry.

Thanks for starting this thread.


I’m 22 and completely agree. If there were drums or guitars in the church, it’d keep me away. I think the church draws a lot of young people away when they try to be “cool”. Some of us 20-somethings come to church because it seems very official and something very special.

I raised my young adult children in a Methodist church and we all attended contemporary worship. While they liked it and my oldest sang in the youth version of the worship group, both my daughters are unchurched now. One married a Lutheran but in truth they prefer to have Sundays to themselves. My youngest actually attended a Catholic Mass a couple times on campus and went to a Catholic Christmas Eve service with her cousing and she has commented that it “feels more like church”. That being said she says she is not religious and has no plans to join old mom in RCIA anytime soon. Their dad, my husband is one of those poorly catechized baby boomers who left the Church in college and hated the folk masses. He had no wish to bring our kids up Catholic- now I wish we had, especially as he is back in full communion. So long story short great music and enthusiasm can feel good but neither one of our kids are now churched- I honestly would be happy with them attending any church at this point. So no, music and fellowship is nice but it doesn’t make Prostestant kids any more likely to stay than it will Catholics. I pray each day to St. Monica and the Blessed Mother for my kids’ hearts to turn to faith. I think bottom line kids are looking like all of us for the truth and what is real.

Sure! It’s pretty long, so I’ll give the Readers’ Digest Condensed Version for now.

**The Readers’ Digest Condensed Version **

*]Being permitted when I was 16 to not attend Mass on Sundays so that I could work
*]All the rules, but no explanation of the theology behind them
*]Being taught in grade 12 Christian Ethics that Hell doesn’t actually exist
*]Being taught that it doesn’t matter which religion you belong to because all have truth to them. So long as you live your faith to the best of your ability, you’ll go to Heaven
*]Being taught in grade 12 that after we die, God doesn’t judge us, but we decide for ourselves if we want to spend eternity with God
*]Being taught contradictions during Christian Ethics in high school
*]Curiosity and finding a book on Satanism in the library of my Catholic high school :eek:
*]Reading said book on Satanism
*]Lex orandi, lex credendi (or there lack of). What went on at Mass didn’t seem to line up with what we believe
*]Going to College and making friends with a lot of Mormons
*]Learning that Mormons practice what they preach
*]Mormonism made more sense than what I was taught about Catholicism
*]Cool! Mormons have temples! :thumbsup:
*]Mormons are always so happy
*]I wanna be a Mormon!

All during this time I committed numerous sins against Faith, which corrupted the virtue within me. The more I did stuff contrary to Faith, the worse I got.

What kinds of things would bring you back?

*]Things not going too well after I moved away from home
*]Attending Mass sporadically on Sundays, but not getting anything out of it
*]Moving across the country for the summer and needing something to do on Sundays
*]Finding an old magnificant cathedral in the city and started attending Mass on Sundays until I had to move back home
*]Walking into said cathedral, and being overcome by the sheer beauty and size of it
*]Hearing the pipe organ played and hearing what I later learned was Gregorian Chant
*]Getting a taste of my Catholic Identity
*]Taking an Ethics class in college and having to write an essay on which Ethical System I followed (Mine was more of a “Creative Writing Essay” on Christian Ethics, specifically Catholic morality
*]Being required to actually research said ethical system, thus having many hot dates with the Catechism
*]Hmm? What’s this? Hell actually exists?? People actually go there?!?!?!
*]Learning that dying in the state of mortal sin is all it takes for a person to be damned to Hell
*]Learning there’s more to mortal sins than simply murdering people, committing adultry, and robbing a bank (examples of mortal sins given the last time I was taught about reconciliation and mortal sins…grade 2), and that I have actually committed thousands of mortal sins over the years.
*]I don’t like heat, and I really don’t want to go to Hell for eternity. I better go to Confession
*]Insert numerous anxiety attacks about going to Confession I’ll just suck it up once and never commit another mortal sin again so I never I have to go to Confession again
*]I don’t know how to go to Confession Insert Google search for how to go to Confession “Fr. Z’s 20 tips for making a good Confession”
*]This is helpful, but I still don’t know how to make a proper Confession
*]“QUAERITUR???” Help! It’s been 10 years since I’ve ever been to confession. I don’t know what to do!
*]“I’ll go to Confession after Reading Week”
*]“Attention. Flight number 2462 to Vancouver has been delayed due to mechanical issues” insert fear of dying in a plane crash with thousands of unconfessed mortal sins here
*]“A 23 year old girl is is dead after her car was struck by a semi. The young girl lost control trying to avoid a head on collision with a car trying to pass on highway 4 just outside of _____” insert “holy poo! I passed that car earlier” That could have been me! 'Kay I really need to go to Confession before driving home" thought here
*]*Insert numerous failed attempts to go to confession here, everything ranging from parishes not having scheduled times for confession, priests not being in the confessional during scheduled times, and my own parish priest flat-out refusing to hear my confession when I finally gave up on anonymous confession because he “[doesn’t] do Confessions outside of his [non-regularly] scheduled times”)
*]*Insert numerous swears and uncharitable and sacrilegious comments about aforementioned priest here
*]Frustrated Google search about not being able to go to Confession Long story short, seek ye a priest from the FSSP. He shall patiently sit and listen then absolve thee"
*]Search out for nearest FSSP house. Not too far away. Only two hours.
*]“I can’t confess to a priest who I don’t have the faintest clue of who he is. I need to attend his Mass first. I’ll go to Confession next Saturday.”
*]“Oh my Lord! Why has nobody told me about this Mass before!”
*]“Bless me Father. I have sinned. It’s been 10 years since my last confession. Please bear with me, I think I might have an anxiety attack” “Go ahead” :confused:
*]“Deinde, ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.”
*]Insert complete life changing conversion experience to the point that it’s freaky here

(Con’t on another post)

(con’t from other post)
Of course, many happy clappy feel-good priests criticize this saying that I shouldn’t be doing things out of fear of going to Hell, but for the love of God, and that such is an immature faith. Well duh! When you’ve corrupted your theological virtues, specifically faith, there’s not much left to go on. It’s still something, and it got the desired result, more so than anything else that these other parishes have “tried”.

Really, what is was grace. Look at all the actual grace I received to get me into the Confessional. Once I got there, I was restored to being in a state of sanctifying grace. Since then, I have been attending the EF Mass, learning more about what Catholicism really teaches, going to Confession quite regularly, etc. Everything I am right now is all because of grace. Not from some banal homemade liturgy and being told we need to be singing and clapping along at Mass and distributing communion, being mini-priests, etc.

Maybe rather than looking at the problem from a secular marketing perspective, we should be looking at the issue from a theological perspective. After all, we are the fullness of truth, and have existed for over 2000 years. :shrug:

I agree. I’m the same age and I think that making mass into a “rock concert” is a complete turn off. I think a lot of younger aged folks prefer the older mass (Latin mass!) because its much more mystic than the current mass. I think the younger generations like that type of mass the most these days.

When I hear people at my parish ask where all the younger people are going, I usually respond with “they’re all attending the latin mass” :shrug:

Deo Gratias42,

Great Testimony.

The Church really needs you to help her bring others home…:thumbsup::thumbsup:


DeoGratias, that is a lot to digest. Thanks so much for this list. Gives me a lot to think about.

So it seems that theology that is more embracing of everything actually drove you away? Would you say that is the case with most youth?

I attend the EF. I don’t see any youth filling up the parish seats. I don’t see a lot of youth at the more orthodox OF masses necessarily either. It could be a NYC thing.

But I do see youth at other parishes.

So again, do you think that most youth are attracted to more liberal theology or run from it?

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