….I know that even suggesting that our current model of youth ministry is flawed will raise the hackles of the Catholic professional class, in spite of the current model’s evident failure. For some reason, youth ministry is a sacred cow. However, we can’t avoid the grim reality of millions of Catholics growing up and then moving out, even after having been involved in “good” youth ministry. Surely many youth programs are orthodox and very well-intentioned. This is my point. So why are young people still leaving? And how can we change this?
….Research points to the vital role specifically of the father’s faith. A 2000 report in Population Studies magazine concluded that “it is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.” More specifically, it states:
In short, if a father does not go to church — no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions — only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular)….
The father is the “mediator” — the “priest” — of the family, the domestic church. Therefore it makes sense, both sociologically and theologically, to focus on fathers in order to save the children….
The primary thing that needs to be done is to destroy the current ambiance found in most parishes, which is only attractive to gay men of the 1970s. Merely entering a typical suburban Catholic parish is emasculating, from the architecture to the music to the felt banners to the limp homily to the army of elderly female Eucharistic ministers. What red-blooded male would be interested in that if he did not already have a faith strong enough to see beyond it to the underlying reality? Parishes are sending a strong message without even realizing it: young virile men are not welcome….
The above excerpted from the Jan. 9 issue of Crisis Magazine. Read entire article here.