These college students have taken off from home and are rocketing through my parish. Where they will splash down is anyone’s guess
But most students are transients by definition. If the parish had its own graveyard or burial crypt, we shouldn’t expect it to run out of space anytime soon. Nevertheless, sharing pews with these youngsters in the last Sundays before they vanish into the world leaves room to imagine happy endings for them.
In a survey of Bay Area Catholics young enough to be courted by “young adult” ministries, Kaya Oakes found a longing for “a multigenerational parish.” Pleased as they might have been at freeing themselves from their parents, Oakes’ subjects still preferred to have some older people around. Oakes never said why. Perhaps they appreciated the living reminder that the Catholic Church is not the worst place to land after all.
There’s no use complaining about mobility. It will remain a fact of life for as long as aspiration does. Still, if I were bishop, I’d declare these in-flight Catholics a precious diocesan resource. Every Sunday I’d bundle a portion of them onto a big chartered bus and drive them to one of the diocese’s aging parishes. Like golden retrievers spreading cheer in cancer wards, these young people would spread the hope of renewal. In return, they might just get a lesson in stability.
Max Lindenman is a freelance writer based in Phoenix. He blogs at Diary of a Wimpy Catholic.