Jesuit Amerika Magazine laments: “Where are the millennial Catholic activists?” Wherein Fr. Z rants.

Jesuit-run (hence confused) Amerika Magazine has posted a lament: “Where are the millennial Catholic activists?”

The head-scratching writer is bumfuzzled. Protests for favored lib causes are drawing people with lots of gray hair. Where are the young, social media savvy protesters?

First, the young generation of Catholics don’t feel the need to relive the halcyon days of yore, with the draft card and bra burning, dope smoking and guitar strumming, altar smashing and whitewashing. They don’t have that baggage. They aren’t triggered by protest signs and gray ponytails.

Yes, there are some young people at these protests, but let’s make a distinction.  There are young Catholics and there are young catholics.

To the question, “Where are the millennial Catholic activists?” Fr. Longenecker posted the quintessential answer:

Fr. Z über-kudos to Fr. L.

Demographic studies suggest that in a few years the numbers of people in pews will drop dramatically as boomers go to their frightening judgment and the “nones” get a little older and just leave.

In the next few years, dioceses will lose a high percentage of priests. Where I am, three priests have died in the last week.

It’s a war of attrition now as the Biological Solution really kicks into it’s ineluctable gear.

However, last Sunday at the TLM I celebrated it was like day-care in the church.

In these still small but growing traditional groups, there are lots of young families with lots of kids and more on the way.

TLMs are alive all over the place now and there are more and more of them. Since Summorum Pontificum in 2007 the number of TLMs has grown from around 200 to over 500. A couple years ago in France, traditional ordinations accounted for over 20% of all the ordinations.

I suspect that were there to be general permission to use the older Pontificale Romanum for ordinations to the diaconate and priesthood, well over half the men to be ordained would rather have the traditional form than the newer.

My sense is that this can’t be stopped, not without moves that would probably tear the unity of the Church to pieces.  This is so, because the “gravitational pull” or “mutual enrichment” or “knock-on effect” really is taking place.  The Ordinary Form is also being purified of dross in many places because of what priests learn at the TLM altar.  A synergy is building.

Of course the seats of ecclesial power abound with prelates who would rather burn down struggling parishes and watch Satan disco dance in the ashes than do the slightest “traditional” thing to revitalize our identity and evangelical mission.

Hence, because this is also spiritual warfare, YOU, dear readers, need to buckle it on and get to work.

The storm is almost here.

Polish that armor, sharpen that sword, mend that shield, square that gear, do those drills.  Pray for specific intentions.  Practice mortifications for reparation for sins.  Contribute at the parish.  Examine your conscience.



I post the above and then find an article about parish closures in Europe.  HERE

The Diocese of Trier in Germany will reduce its number of parishes from 172 to 35 by the year 2020


The details provided by the CNS of some of the other diocesan reorganizations planned or currently underway in Europe makes for sobering reading:
– Berlin: 105 parishes to be reduced to 35 “pastoral spaces”, with unused churches to be sold off and 40% of clergy and lay staffers reassigned, thereby alleviating some of the Diocese’s $140 million debt

– Vienna: 660 parishes to be merged into 150 hubs served by a handful of priests

– Luxembourg: 274 parishes reduced to 33

– Clogher, Ireland: 37 parishes cut to 14 “pastoral areas” coordinated by teams of just two priests and six laypeople

– Utrecht: 326 parishes to just 48 hubs in which only one church will serve as a “eucharistic center”


Some will spin this as a greater opportunity for lay people in the Church. Riiiiight.

It’s disaster, pure and simple.

See my comments above about disco dancing devils.

These are the fruits born of liberals.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Orlando says:

    Father I too have witnessed the graying of the new Mass crowd . This weekend I attended the new Mass on Saturday with my family in a large parrish that also has an elementary school associated with it and I was shocked at the how much older the average parishioner was when compared to the weekly TLM Mass I attend on Sundays. The TLM is much younger with many large famiies and crying babies.

    My smaller TLM parish feels much more alive then that mega church parish .

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  3. teomatteo says:

    Could it be that one can be an ‘activist’ while kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament at three in the morning for Adoration? Fr. Longenecker knows of what he speaks.

  4. Gaetano says:

    To have a stable complement of priests, a parish needs to produce one priestly vocation every 15-20 years. It isn’t an impossible goal, but some diocese make it so.

  5. chantgirl says:

    Precisely because the Church is so close to collapse in many areas- death in the West, extreme persecution in Communist countries, near-annihilation in the middle east, the crumbling of her institutions, attacks upon her doctrine- the sight of potent new growth is likely to spark a diabolical reaction. Why would the evil one, so close to achieving his knockout punch, allow his dazed opponent to stand back up without summoning all his strength to finish her off.

    Obviously, the devil is no match for Christ, but it makes sense that the attacks upon the Church are only going to rapidly intensify in the near future.

  6. dbf223 says:

    To be fair, the author (herself a millennial) gives space to both pro-life activism and the TLM:

    “Many of us have already had a taste of activism at the March for Life. Tens of thousands—some years, hundreds of thousands—of Catholic students demonstrate or have demonstrated in Washington, D.C., in groups from Catholic high schools, youth groups and colleges.”

    “Young Catholics have breathed new life into traditions like the Latin Mass that date from before the Second Vatican Council.”

    I’m a millennial – whatever that means – and I often don’t see the traditional Catholic vs liberal/progressive Catholic categories play out in the same way for people my age as they have for baby boomers.

  7. GregB says:

    Sadly, the modernists would probably see an in house Church of Satan as a positive act of inclusivity and ecumenical outreach.

  8. pbnelson says:

    But, Father, don’t you want your mass to attract young people?!?

  9. pbnelson says:

    Oh, no! the combox ate my tag!

  10. Julia_Augusta says:

    I’ve been to the TLM in France, Ireland, Scotland, Singapore and the US in the last 9 months. I’ve also been to the Novus Ordo Masses (Japan and New Zealand). I’m 56 years old. At the TLM, most people are younger than me; at the Novus Ordo, most people are older.

  11. marianna331 says:

    The millennials, or as we call them young adults, from my TLM parish are frequently seen on their knees praying the rosary in front of the local abortion clinic. I would certainly call this activism. Their witness has saved lives multiple times.

  12. LeeGilbert says:

    Father, you write, “In these still small but growing traditional groups, there are lots of young families with lots of kids and more on the way.”

    If these young families are a) keeping the secular media out of their homes, b) reading the lives of the saints and other good literature to their families-and they are doing exactly that- in about fifteen to twenty years we will have lots of priests and sisters . . . and more on the way.

    When comparing the Church of a half century ago with that of today, I often think of this passage from the prophet Haggai:

    “Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing?”

    Yes, Lord, there is no comparison. We are in a bad way.

    “But now be strong . . . declares the Lord. . .. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. . .

    ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

    Of course, if one plots the present trajectory, the Haggai passage seems very airy-fairy. Yet, with the Lord the pattern is ever the same. Just when things look impossible, when we have exhausted all our wit and cannot find a way out, THEN, and not before, the Lord will step in. In this way He makes it very clear that HE is the savior, that we did not engineer our own rescue.

    Haven’t many of us experienced this dynamic personally? Yet it is true for the entire Church as well. As with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the depth of our disaster is the gauge of our triumph. And it will be utterly magnificent. Never doubt it. We could begin giving thanks even now and with full voice. In fact, such thanksgiving is one of the very purposes of the Eucharist.

    These traditional families with their many children seem like the pre-dawn glow, but He is coming in any case.

  13. Ave Maria says:

    I read that Notre Dame in Paris is crumbling due to pollution and that seems like an icon for what is happening in the Church these days for it too is crumbling. And high ranking ones are compromising with the flesh, the devil, and the world but to no avail because none of that will fill the churches. And so many places have banal boring Masses and music and no antics of the priest will suffice to keep the young people, or older ones too, in the parish. When I visit my brother and attend his FSSP parish, I feel at home and see where the future lies. But one such parish in a big archdiocese is not enough to rebuild what has been lost. My son wants to get married but his fiancée is a strong protestant. His local Catholic church does not stack up to what is offered at her protestant church. Yes, yes, I know there is the Holy Eucharist but when was the last time a teaching was taught about it? Immigration? Yeah, you hear about that and other things but not the core teachings of the Church. And there is a less than stellar pastor at my son’s parish and that really does not help. ALL my young relatives are leaving the church to marry in a garden or hotel or some such. All gone. That makes my resolution for detachment more difficult because this bothers me.

  14. YoungLatinMassGuy says:

    I’ll let Sideshow Bob from “The Simpsons” express how I feel…

  15. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    I am 31 years old and technically a millenial, a word I consider to be a perjorative.

    By “millenial”, I naturally think of the majority of the people with whom I went to college (and as whom I started college, before the influence of a handful of good priests and a whole bunch of solid Catholic books)…….materially-spoiled, spiritually-vacant, single child, latch key kid, don’t remember a world without the internet, think Google is a shortcut for critical thinking, have never used the Dewey decimal system, think a college education is a natural human right but disagree with the existence of Aristotelian natural kinds/law as a basis of morality, patently and unashamedly hedonist, with eclectic musical and purgatory needs, more concerned with getting along than fi ding reality or truth, metaphysically absent, internally inconsistent, discohesive, bleeding heart individualist…adult-age children.

    I’ve been going a Latin Mass since I moved for medical school and my geographical parish then happened to be the diocesan Latin Mass parish. Hook, line, sinker: there was the liturgical gravitas, sobriety, depth of submission/meaning/demand that required me to behave like an adult and rewarded me for doing so. This was the Liturgy of Gregory the Great, Aquinas, Charlemagne, St. Louis, Peter Canisius, a Kempis, the Cure de Ars, Louis Pasteur, Newman, Chesterton, Etienne Gilson. 8 years and 5 children later I’m still going to the Latin Mass, primarily. Sadly, every time I find myself at an OF I regret it (with the exception of a fewe really good priests I trust).

    My children have been spared the banal felt banners, the honestly crappy modern Catholic music I grew up with, bizarre attempts at ecumenism, etc. 75% of the people I graduated Catholic highschool with after 12 years of Catholic education have either left the Faith entirely or don’t practice it. Millenial or not, I’m giving my children something different than I received.

    I am giving them the Catholic Faith in its integrity, consonant with its entire Tradition, steeped in history. Im serving up Chesterton’s thick Wagyu steak and aged red wine of Religion, followed by the good cigar of Truth.

  16. Kathleen10 says:

    I remember the good old days when it was understood that numbers of Mass-goers were in decline, but we still thought we had men in charge who would recognize there was a problem and find a way to respond and turn it around. What huckleberries we were. We had no idea it was intentional.

  17. JonPatrick says:

    Wow the Diocese of Berlin has a $140 million debt in spite of the millions they get from the church tax? I guess taking medieval churches and making them look like airport terminals is more expensive than I thought.

    I have noticed that phenomenon here of young people at the TLM and mostly only older at the OF Masses. The TLM in my parish has a nice mix of old and young and in between. Some days you have trouble hearing the homily over what one member jokingly refers to as the “children’s choir”, the crying babies. A good problem to have.

  18. Spade says:

    My diocese has 76 parishes and missions, and averages 2.43 priests per parish if you only include diocesan priests, rising to 3.53 if you include all priests that serve the diocese. We have 45 men in formation for the diocesan priesthood, and 73 men and women in formation for religious life (which includes stuff like priests for the FSSP and Christ the King).

    We have 463,897 registered parishioners.

    Hey, maybe soon we’ll be able to send the Germans mission priests. They won’t like them though. They’re Catholic.

  19. Spade says:

    Should’ve been clearer on that last snarky line about how great our priests are compared to whatever Germany et al are doing.

  20. taylorhall95 says:

    As a young traditionalist Catholic, who is a supporter of integralism, monarchism, and everything traditionally Catholic, I can readily attest to the growth of Tradition among faithful Catholic youth at my university alone. The non-practicing and liberal Catholic youth are gradually falling away from the Faith, while more and more of the faithful Catholic youth are tired of the emotionalism, praise and worship, and neo-protestantism (promoted by Franciscan University of Steubenville) that has characterized the conservative wing of the Church in American for decades. I trust that the Church is in God’s hands. While it saddens me to see parish closures in Europe and America, I know that the demographic solution will have an effect in the West (so long as Muslim immigration is controlled).

  21. byzantinesteve says:

    Well, there’s the fact that their baby boomer and Gen X parents spent their entire adolescent/young adult years telling them “the Church is wrong on [insert one or more ‘pelvic’ issues].” I don’t understand how people can act all that surprised when millennials opt to have beach weddings and decide their money and time on Sundays could be used in better ways.

  22. Thorfinn says:

    Please remember, those of you running parishes or parish activities, that many young, single Catholics have time they don’t know what to do with, and idle hands are the Devil’s playground. On this feast of St. John of God, I urge you to personally & persistently request the assistance of the young in every activity from Eucharistic Adoration to homeless ministry. They’ll either be doing that or …. other things.

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