March 8, 2019

Campus and young adult ministry ‘wouldn’t exist’ without funds from United Catholic Appeal

Members of the Butler Catholic Community pose during a retreat last October. The archdiocesan Office of Young Adult and College Campus ministry supports Catholic student organizations like the one at Butler University in Indianapolis. (Submitted photo)

Members of the Butler Catholic Community pose during a retreat last October. The archdiocesan Office of Young Adult and College Campus ministry supports Catholic student organizations like the one at Butler University in Indianapolis. (Submitted photo)

By Natalie Hoefer

For most college students and young adults, the ages between 18 and 35 are years of discovery.

“They are searching for love, their identity, and desperately seeking intimacy and happiness,” says Dominican Father Patrick Hyde, campus minister and associate pastor at St. Paul Catholic Center in Bloomington near Indiana University. “Catholic ministry provides them ... the only way to find true love and happiness” through a relationship with Christ.

But many college-age and young adult Catholics in the United States do not turn to Catholic ministry to fulfill their needs. In fact, many leave the Church altogether, even before age 18.

A 2017 study by Saint Mary’s Press and the Center for Applied Research of the Apostolate revealed that of the roughly 20 million former Catholics in the United States, 5.4 million are ages 15-25.

Further, nearly 75 percent of that demographic stopped identifying as Catholic between the ages of 10 and 20, with the median age being 13.

“This is one of the greatest needs of the Church,” says Matt Faley, director of the archdiocesan Office of Young Adult and College Campus Ministry. “Being passive about it is saying they’ll come back when they get married, or when they start having kids, or when their kids start to go to school. We know that’s not the case anymore. We can no longer be passive with this.”

His office is trying to reverse this trend in central and southern Indiana.

(Related stories: Ministry helps college students and young adults grow in faith | Late archbishop’s vision leads to campus and young adult ministry)

“Our mission is to go out and find young adults in the archdiocese in the 18-35 demographic, to bring them back into the Church, to introduce them or reintroduce them to Jesus and the Church,” says Faley.

But to grow the ministry, he says his office needs the continuing support of Catholics in central and southern, both in terms of prayer and funding.

The Office of Young Adult and College Campus Ministry, like many other archdiocesan ministries, relies heavily on funding from the annual United Catholic Appeal (UCA).

But donations to the appeal, which supports archdiocesan ministries no single parish or deanery could fund alone, are down $420,000 from this time last year.

“We’ve been able to flourish because the archdiocese has said this is a priority,” says Faley. “And UCA funds have helped make it thrive. Without them, this ministry wouldn’t exist. … It’s not hyperbole—we really wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Without an archdiocesan ministry offering “the invitation for young adults to really bring their longing for community, their spiritual needs, our Church would suffer greatly,” he says. “It’s not just serving the present Church, but also the future Church.”

Father Patrick speaks emphatically about the need for such ministry.

“To be blunt, our failure here will be detrimental to the future of the Church,” he says. “It is absolutely necessary to the future of the Church to have vibrant, faithful Catholic ministries on college campuses” and for young adults beyond college.

If the number of middle-aged people leaving the Church is added to the number of young adults doing the same, he says, “we are facing a demographic time bomb.”
 

(For more information about the archdiocesan Office of Young Adult and College Campus Ministry, go to www.archindy.org/youngadult or contact Matt Faley at 800-382-9836, ext. 1436, 317-236-1436 or mfaley@archindy.org. To contribute to the annual United Catholic Appeal, go to storybook.link/UCAstorybook [case sensitive] or call the Office of Stewardship and Development at 800-382-9836, ext. 1415, or 317-236-1415.)

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