Yesterday, we packed up for our biennial weekend youth conference this weekend in Ocean City. Our theme is Heroes. I have drafted a opinion piece for our diocesan newspaper, the Catholic Review, which I hope will run in next week’s edition along with conference coverage.
The Christmas season is right around the corner and thoughts are turning towards gifts. One of the alleged insults of the season is to re-gift something that you don’t desire – for instance, the bad joke gift that gets passed annually from family member to family member, or the fruitcake that came from your employer.
Hundreds of young people from the Archdiocese of Baltimore gathered last weekend in Ocean City to think about re-gifting. The theme they considered was “Heroes,” and they spent some time considering the lives of the saints. They imagined how they might be heroes for the faith as well.
They looked at Juan Diego’s devotion to the Eucharist and willingness to carry the Blessed Mother’s message to the people of the Americas. Our young people thought about Elizabeth Ann Seton’s dedication to passing on the gift of education. They considered the radical simplicity of the lifestyle of Francis of Assisi.
Those saints and their stories are important and need to be shared. Research into the faith lives of young people, however, indicates that there is still another very important story to be shared with them that will have considerable influence. It is a story that comes from those who might feel as if they have begun to lose their own heroic sheen in the lives of young people.
It is the story of faith that comes from their parents.
The National Study on Youth and Religion indicates that young people faithfully mirror the religious life of their parents