I have heard that new Catholics stray from the faith in large percentages after full initiation into the Church. I don’t want to stray. What are the causes of this?
In my humble opinion the cause is the lack of continuing catechesis…after RCIA, you may have to rely on yourself a little more. I would suggest starting each day with a prayerful reading of the Daily Mass readings, and reflecting on the upcoming Sunday Mass Readings…it has serve me well in keeping me focused on my faith in the 9 years since I came into full communion with the Church.
Good luck, God bless, and Rejoice in the Lord always!
I’ve heard approx half will leave the faith in the first year.
Reasons I’ve seen:
Lack of “feelings”. People will, with all sorts of good intentions, tell folks that “after Confession” “after Communion”, etc. that you will feel amazing, light, free, walking on sunshine, like a new person. Thing is, not everyone has these sorts of feelings, and even if you have them the first time it is no guarantee they will continue. Things are real and true and right regardless of the emotional feelings. Don’t follow feelings.
Lack of community. For some time you have been in a community that meets regularly. After the Vigil, that is POOF gone (rare parishes have Mystagogy) Get involved. Volunteer, join groups. If you are a man, join the Men’s Group and Knights of Columbus. Woman join the CCW, Catholic Daughters, Altar Society. Men or women, join the choir, volunteer to help with VBS this summer and RE this fall. Join the parish life committee or social justice or something that really speaks to you. Don’t wait, join up now.
Lack of intention. Some people simply went through RCIA because their fiancee or spouse wanted it.
Disillusionment. Some folks expect Catholics in general and parish in particular to be perfect. When they see that they are full of sinners and that some of them are not nice, that there are politics and cliques and gossips, well, they either get their feelings hurt or they get totally disillusioned. Remember, we are all human, even Catholics, even priests and staff.
There are probably about as many reasons for straying as there are for the number who stray.
The RCIA process is a beginning; if it was not a solid beginning, then the foundation may be weak.
The reasons behind the decision to become Catholic may provide answers; if when they joined they did not believe the Catholic Church s the one, true Church. staying is problematic.
How they handle their background may be problematic. Most people come in with a background of a group of friends. in some, if not many circumstances, joining the Church and keeping the same group of friends may provide constant conflict and challenge to remaining Catholic (e.g. as an example, if one had been close friends with others of the same faith background, such as strong evangelical). It may mean that one can no longer maintain a friendship with them, or the terms of that friendship may need to change.
Or one may be coming into the Church, but have little or no real solid connection with the parish, and may not be someone who forms friendships quickly; one may feel a stranger in their midst.
And those are just a few of the issues
One may not be particularly inclined to studying; and RCIA should only be the beginning. Faith based on only a smattering of information has a weak foundation.
God bless you on your journey.
I’m still going strong almost a year after my Confirmation. Out of our group of six, I am one of two who attends Mass weekly, three more somewhat consistently, and one left after the summer abuse scandal and I doubt will return. I’m not sure why some continue and some don’t. For me, the Church saved my life and I cannot imagine not staying and wanting to develop my faith. I’ve had doubts, been lonely, felt set apart from my old friends, but I’m finding my way and did not expect to constantly float on a cloud of virtue and peaceful vibes after my conversion. It has helped to stay in touch and meet up with people from the group from time to time. I meetup with another catechumen and my RCIA teacher/sponsor from time to time and that helps. I also see a priest weekly for counseling/spiritual direction and he has been a great guide.
Blessings upon you, and your dedication to Christ’s Church!
During the period of mystagogy, new Catholics need immediate integration into parish life: women’s group, Knights of Columbus, adult ed., etc.
Sponsors play a huge part, and should take them to Church activities, fellowship, fish fry, and the like.
Keep them connected, keep them excited about their new life in Christ.
One more insight, immerse yourself in the faith, but don’t live in a Catholic bubble. This is not to say don’t change as you see fit but if you bombard yourself with too much it will actually make you confused. I’m glad I still have my old friends. My best friend did not take it well but he came around. Two disappeared, but those who stayed are accepting even if they struggle to understand at time, and many are ex-Catholics. But if I suddenly cloistered myself with all Catholics I would feel not like myself. Also, I became a consumer of too much Catholic social media for a bit. I still stay somewhat informed but reading too much about everyone’s tribal opinions, especially since the abuse scandal, can make you feel uneasy. Don’t stay ignorant but also realize there are many armchair theologians and wannabe politicians online. Too much commentary, not enough truth. I now avoid many topics on this site because comments are so predictable. I only tune in when someone shares something enriching and when I feel I can share something that may help someone. I now mostly focus on reading source material, a limited number of unbiased content creators, my own prayer practice and what goes on at my parish (I’m blessed with a great one). If you listen to too many posters and “personalities” you think the Church is way more divided and destroyed than it is.
My parish did a great job and we continued to meet post Confirmation up until the summer. They had members from several of the parish groups come and speak about how to get involved. I joined the Communications team, although activity has been quiet there, but we have many social activities and talks on faith and culture. I’m lucky.
You’re definitely going to experience withdrawal feelings if you go from weekly RCIA classes and group friendships to only attending Mass and little interaction with others. Make sure you can get into a Bible Study, anything that will keep you interacting with other Catholics.
The parish I’m getting confirmed in will have mystagogy, but unfortunately I won’t be able to attend any of the sessions since I’ll be moving back home at the beginning of May…
Parishes can have an effect. So can lack of community as others have said. I eventually left for another parish after confirmation.
Excellent post. I can definitely see how all those things could contribute to folks leaving after confirmation.
One thing I’ve noticed is that those of us who really take on a Catholic world view and really try to live a devotional Catholic life seem to be making an easier transition than those who are sort of hanging back and really only engaged in RCIA and mass sometimes.
We will have some mystagogy sessions after Easter Vigil. I look forward to it.
Oh, and know that first year is often a time of great spiritual “attacks”. Being part of a community will help you feel you are not alone when these come.
People get lazy and figure if they miss Mass once on Sunday it’s not a big deal, God doesn’t care, etc
People get into some sinful situation that they can’t easily get out of and fall away
To a lesser extent, people find something they disagree with or don’t like about the church and lose interest, but often I find that sort of thing is just them trying to justify/ make excuses for their behavior 1) or 2) above.
The process makes Easter Vigil seem like a graduation ceremony. Like “Whew! We’re finished.” I try to impart to my catechumens and candidates for full communion that yes, the Easter Vigil ceremonies are an achievement, but more than an end, they are just the beginning of the greatest adventure one can have. Don’t be stagnant. Go beyond your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to listen to, and say yes to the promptings of God when they come. You will not ever regret it.
Possibly getting actively involved in their parish might help a great deal: Sacristan, reader, usher, certain groups in the church community.
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