Recently, I read an article from The Catholic News’ For Women blog about “The Gap”.
I read it over ten times and whilst I agreed that there is a huge gap in the Church, I struggled with accepting the gap was between the old and the young. After a week of mulling over the topic, I came to believe that the real GAP that exists is the absence of love and imagination in the Catholic Church.
I grew up in the Catholic Church in the nineties, (so I’m considered one of the oldies now) when everyone was hoping to do Youth 2000. We were seeking a constant high, we would get it, and then we would go to church comfortably accepting that this low should be our norm.
There was so much creativity then: there was dancing in every big event; young people were using movement to praise God and some of the priests took the modern music of our times and incorporated it into the Mass so that we were able to see God in everything and everywhere.
But then something happened. The boring version of worship became the norm and somehow we, who were excited and creative, bought into the story that this is what Catholicism is.
People still quote that if you want to be entertained then go to comedy fest. But today I have a parish priest who is more entertaining than Dave Chappelle and Tommy Joseph combined. I can’t wait to go to church on a Sunday because I am both entertained and edified at the end of each Mass.
Let me tell you something that no one wants to hear: the 80-year-olds are bored; the 60-year-olds are bored; the 40-year-olds are bored; the 30-year-olds are too busy; the 20-year-olds, “doh have time with we”, and everybody else coming under duress.
Last month I attended a wake for a Baptist relative. The thing was hot! I enjoyed myself every night. Their wake was certainly a fantastic forum to evangelise to the entire neighbourhood the beauty of the Baptist religion.
My sister and I took front-row seats and clapped the night away. The next week a parishioner died, and I had to go to say the rosary. Needless to say, it was a snooze fest. Ten minutes after the Catholics did their boring rosary, the real wake began. I felt saddened by this.
What baton are we passing on to the next generation? A teenager would rather eat raw caraille for breakfast than attend Confirmation. Some parishes take up to three years to teach young people what it means to be Catholic, then the young people leave the next day.
So why are you still here reading this… Being Catholic……? Why are you coming to church every weekend? There are three things that I think keep me devoted.
1. I have encountered Jesus – I had my Youth 2000 experience. I did COR retreats; I have had miraculous things happen to me by the grace of God. I have met Him at the foot of the cross and at the breaking of the bread and so I truly believe. I am not a Catholic-based on what anyone has told me, or anything I have read. I am here because of my real experiences with God.
2. I found my place. A life of purpose is a life well lived. Living your purpose is important. I belong to a tiny little parish community and on a good Sunday, 10 persons would show up. I knew I had to be there to make up the ten. My presence mattered; I knew that I would be missed. I could go to fete until 6 in the morning, bet your bottom dollar I will be in church on Sunday. I could be invited to the best breakfast party, I would choose church instead. I mattered. I was seen and heard. Are you seen and heard in your parish?
3. I was allowed to use my imagination: I found groups and organizations that gelled with my vision of the Church. I am a consummate volunteer. But now I only volunteer to do the things that will bring me joy, I don’t volunteer to feel important, or appreciated, or noticed. I volunteer to write, plan events, to host events, and by doing that I leave room for others to have a place.
Going back to the beginning, I don’t think there is a gap. I think that no one’s needs are being met in our churches as it is structured. If your parish has a successful youth group then kudos to you, but my research from working in youth ministry for over 20 years is that there are probably five successful youth groups in Trinidad and Tobago.
If you have a successful group taking care of your elderly, well… that’s amazing, I can only think of three parishes that run this successfully. But do you have a ministry dedicated to the working professional mother? Do you have an active ministry for the differently abled? Do you have a ministry for the neurodivergent? Do you have active men’s ministry? What about ministry for boys?
Most parishes rarely take time to care beyond the choir, prayer group, and SVP. We have not out-dreamed our grandparents; we are living in their Catholic Church and making a mess of it because we are not making a Church for our times.
The above blog writer chose to remain anonymous. Interested in writing for us? Email firstname.lastname@example.org