Here’s something to provoke thought and prayer, from the blog Catholic-Conversations.
This mother, Claire, describes herself:
I’m a Catholic “lifer.” Raised in a Catholic home, I went to Catholic schools, worked as a parish pastoral associate, and co-founded a parachurch non-profit called Parish Catalyst whose mission is to help priests and lay leaders “Think Creatively, Act Courageously and Renew the Church.” (parishcatalyst.org)
I have a Master’s in Pastoral Theology from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and a Doctor of Ministry from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. I’ve preached at liturgies and set up cones in rainy parking lots. I spoke at Oxford University about parish life and have been the only one left at a parish event to clean up. My Catholic husband and I have raised four kids Catholic, and only one stuck with it.
And in her blog post, she explains:
Recently, I arranged a family Zoom with all four of them to try and find out why three Catholic identities had gone off the rails while one had stayed the course. This blog (approved by my children) distills the comments of those who no longer identify as Catholic. Warning: no parent, child, or animal was injured in the development of this list.
1. A Fundamental Feeling That I Just Don’t Believe It
“This is the ultimate reason. It’s really hard to separate out at that age (12-13), when you are so tender, the difference between the dogma and the actual reckoning with your own faith…like does God exist? Is there an afterlife? I feel that came later. But at 12 or 13, I had a fundamental feeling that I just didn’t believe what I was being told.”
2. Being Catholic was an Adult Thing
“I never really felt Catholic. To me, adults were Catholic. Catholicism didn’t seem like it was made of me. I might have said I was Catholic because I was told I was, and I went to a Catholic school, and I knew Catholic people…so in a sense…I was Catholic. But I looked at the Church and the belief system and the culture as an adult thing that you guys [the parents] were doing and it was mandatory for us to go with you. It was your Catholic thing. I thought, maybe I’ll grow up and be one of these people…but I’m not sure.”
3. A Message of Conformity
“There’s something about the dogma that is so alienating at age 12 or 13. You are at an age where you are trying to understand yourself and your identity. You are just beginning to come into a sense of your own sexuality and the Church sends a message of conformity. The other side of the conformity coin is that there is something intrinsically wrong with you.”
That’s just for starters. There are three more reasons. Read it all.
Someone who has a few ideas about all this is my friend Brandon Vogt, from Bishop Barron’s Word on Fire, who has written a new book on the subject of children who leave the church called Return.
Below is an interview he did on this subject.
And here’s Bishop Robert Barron’s take, beginning with one word: Pray.