Dynamics of Disaffiliation and Clues for Our Responses

Saint Mary’s Press Research Group and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate published Going, Going, Gone in 2017 (Winona, MN: Saint Mary’s Press). Through a survey and in-depth personal interviews of disaffiliated young people (ages 15-25) who had been raised Catholics, the researchers identified three “preliminary categories” and six “common dynamics” of disaffiliation. In subsequent blogs, videos, podcasts and other means, they have let young people share their stories in their own words, and provided commentary by experts along with accounts of creative ways that the questions and yearnings of these young people can be addressed. For example, REA’s own Theresa O’Keefe discusses how parishes can encourage greater engagement by youth. Another entry profiles how a movement called The Dinner Party supports young adults who have experienced bereavement, providing community, ritual and “sacred space” without the overt trappings of religion.

Let’s kick off this conversation with reflections on the findings of the SMP Research Group, both on the Catholic Community of practice webpage and in our Catholic Community of Practice meeting to be held at REA’s annual meeting on Nov. 4, in Washington, DC. You can sign up for our gathering via Sched.

Suggested activities:

  • Read Going, Going, Gone and/or browse its offshoots at SMP Research Group.
  • Reflect on any of the following questions, in the Comments section on this webpage or at our meeting in Washington:
    • Where do I see evidence in my own RE practice, research and other sources that supports or questions the findings of GGG? 
    • How are recent developments in the Catholic Church, such as the worldwide crisis of clergy sexual abuse, affecting efforts to respond to the dynamics of Catholic disaffiliation?
    • Among the stories by young people represented in GGG, what is one that is especially compelling for you? If you were to meet that person, what kind of dialogue would you have with him or her about the role of Catholic faith in his or her life?

We look forward to the conversation!

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