Bishop Kulick – The Young Church
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
When I look back on my religious formation as a youth, I think about how the Church was presented to those of my generation and before. Our neighborhood parishes were set up to be places of structure and of community. Our families would lead us to the doors of the church, sometimes with a gentle nudge. Inside those doors we would find activities, educational opportunities, committees, sports programs, scouting programs and social events. People from different age groups would welcome us and make us feel at home as part of one big community of faith.
Nobody can really pinpoint when that all changed. Family priorities became fundamentally different. Unlike in the past, many youth are no longer escorted to the parish doors, and they miss the tremendous opportunity of being immersed in the life of a parish and a faith community.
Jesus Christ provides us a tremendous opportunity to return to our parishes and to our strength, which is found in the Holy Eucharist. We can do that by fully participating in the Eucharistic Revival, which was announced by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and a revival that I fully embrace. It is an opportunity to evangelize to all Catholics
over the next three years and to prioritize communications that reach and impact youth and young adults.
During our winter and spring Parish Listening Sessions and through the thousands of surveys sent in to gather input from parishioners, I received a common question everywhere I went: “Bishop, I made sure my children were brought up in the faith. I took them to church. Now they do not even go to church. Where did I go wrong?” My response is very simple: “You did not go wrong. You did exactly what you were supposed to do.” I see the concern and pain in their faces as they express to me that they feel that they are not passing on an important legacy to their children and grandchildren — their faith and ultimately, the gift
of salvation. It is something we all need to think about.
We have to consciously and purposefully go out as missionary disciples. We need to meet our young people where they are in life. We need to be present for them. We need to be a source of strength and inspiration for them and, as our Holy Father reminds us, we need to accompany them to the doors of our parishes and into the lives of our faith communities. Simply turning on the lights and opening the doors, creating dynamic programs and waiting for people to come in, is no longer a model that works. We need to find a new way.
In the Diocese of Greensburg, we began that process last month. I was delighted to have the opportunity to gather with more than 120 young adults at Christ Our Shepherd Center. It was an opportunity for me to hear directly from them about their needs. I listened to feedback on examples of experiences that will engage young adults catechetically, spiritually and socially to entice them to be more active in the life of our Church and parishes.
We often hear that the youth are the future of the Church. I believe that saying should be rephrased to “the youth are our Church,” and it is up to all of us to invite them on the journey of discipleship so they may know, serve and love the Lord more and enrich their parishes and our Church with their gifts and talents.
The Most Reverend Larry J. Kulick, J.C.L.
Bishop of Greensburg