Hi! I realize that there is a thread about the low marriage and baptism rate, and I posted on there, but I would like to discuss the need to emphasize Young Adult and College Ministries as a means of promoting Catholic family values. I want to hear what others think about this as well.
I think the path to correcting this problem with low Catholic marriage and baptism rates is to push young adult ministry. Our college groups need to be well supported and available on every campus. That may mean an individual parish taking it upon themselves to fund a Catholic group on a nearby college campus. They would need to see if there is one already there that can be supported, or challenge the college student population at the parish to start a group with the understanding that the parish would support them and do everything within their power to help fund activities. Many of the non-denominational groups on campuses are well funded and backed by donors that make sure that there are lots of activities, concerts, and free lunches to go around. Sadly, many Catholic students go off to college and assume that as long as they are just hanging around Christians of any sort they are growing in their faith. Interfaith activities are a great way to build unity within Christianity as a whole and dispel confusion about who Catholics really are, but it is imperative that Catholic students have a means of growing in their identity as Catholics.
Also, The Catholic groups on campuses tend to be a way that many Catholic students meet their spouses. I can't even begin to tell you how many people I know of that would tell you their Catholic group on campus either allowed them to meet their spouse, or it affected their relationship in a good way. My fiance and I met before college, but I can tell you that if he hadn't planned on going to the Catholic Center regularly I probably wouldn't have seriously dated him. Now he and I are engaged and SUPER active in our faith and in our group on campus. Both he and I have been able to grow in faith together through a group specially designated for people our age. We have been able to make lasting friendships with people that share our values, and we have a chance to be active in a campus organization that does great things.
I realize I am extremely biased about this, but CAMPUS and YOUNG ADULT MINISTRY is the way to go with this. Strong campus and young adult ministries are the key to promoting healthy Catholic marriages and Catholic family values.