Welcome to the second session of Lawn Chair Catechism, using Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus, by Sherry Weddell (Our Sunday Visitor, 2012).
A few notes:
- You’ll be able to leave comments and/or leave your link at the end.
- You do not have to read the book to participate. Be sure to check out our discussion guide. There’s plenty to get started with if that’s all you use (one page a week).
- There is still time to take advantage of the great discount offer from Our Sunday Visitor. $10 AND free shipping = a great deal!
In last week’s comments, I thought Jen Fitz (the brains behind this whole project) made a great point about answer the “In Your Parish” questions we’ve included:
The parish questions are important, but sometimes the answers are not really appropriate for a public discussion.
I’d encourage folks to answer them on the internet if:
-The example can be helpful to others, especially if the example points to specific ways to problem-solve.
-The example *will not* be hurtful to fellow parishioners.
In many cases, the parish questions should be reserved for discussion within the parish. It’s an essential conversation, but think of it like a family meeting — not every topic a family needs to talk about should be broadcast to the whole world.
It is important to respect the privacy and good name of our family members. Personal matters are sometimes better dealt with personally.
But: Please, oh please, when you have something helpful to share, please share it! We need to learn from each other. And absolutely, the approach of “How do I fit into my parish’s mission?” is the way to go. 100%.
This week, we’ll be covering Chapter 1, “God Has No Grandchildren.”
In her first chapter of Forming Intentional Disciples, Sherry Weddell describes with detailed statistics the crisis of Catholics leaving the Church. She shares the evidence that most departures happen in young adulthood, and that most who leave never come back. She concludes:
If this trend does not change, in ten years it will cease to matter that we have a priest shortage. The Builders will be largely gone, the Boomers retiring, and our institutions – parishes and schools – will be emptying at an incredible rate.
After demonstrating that this trend is just as worrying among Hispanic Catholics, she delves into the reason for the emptying of the pews across all ages and ethnics groups. The primary cause of departures relates to an unexpected finding, discovered in surveys researching the beliefs of Catholics:
. . . one of the most fundamental challenges facing our Church is this: The majority of adult Catholics are not even certain that a personal relationship with God is possible.
She shares a conversation with an archdiocesan vocations director that underscores the statistical reality:
I asked him, “What percentage of the men you work with – men discerning a possible call to the priesthood – are already disciples?”
His answer was immediate: “None.”
“Why do you think that is?”
He was very clear: “They don’t know how. No one has ever talked to them about it.”
In your own faith:
- Have you always been Catholic?
- How did the instruction and mentoring you received help you – or prevent you – from having a personal relationship with God?
- If you were raised in a Catholic home, are your family members all still Catholic?
- What events among your friends and family seem to explain why some are Catholic, and others are not?
In your parish:
- How’s your “retention rate”? What percentage of 8th graders in your parish are still practicing the faith at age 18? At age 24? Do young adults in your parish stay in touch with their childhood faith community, or do they drift away to an unknown fate?
Join the discussion!
We’ll be “talking” in the combox, too, so please leave your thoughts there as well!