Millennials Are Moving to the Suburbs. Parishes: Are You Ready? by L’Alto Catholic Institute

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By L’Alto Catholic Institute, Sept. 27, 2019

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal had an article that unpacked some data which showed that, like generations before them, millennials are finally moving out of the big cities and settling down in the suburbs. The reason seems to do mainly with the search for affordable housing, and this exodus from big cities has led to suburbs being fourteen of the fifteen fastest growing cities in the U.S.

As Catholics, especially those of us who are members or leaders of suburban parishes, we have to look at our communities and ask: are we ready for this? Are we ready to go out to, engage with, and evangelize these millennials?

We do know that millennials crave community. We do know that they are a seeking generation, looking for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment in life. We also know that millennials, of which I am one, are the first fully post-Christian generation. Of those of us who grew up Catholic, only 50% have remained so. For those who left, the average age at which they did so was 13. Additionally, there are no indicators that suggest millenials are going to just find their way back to the Faith.

This means that they are not going to automatically make their way back to our parishes and become active members. The Church is going to have to go find them and make the most of our opportunities to engage them when they do find a brief touch point with our parish. Most of my experiences to date with large suburban parishes is that they are not well-prepared for this influx of a millennial population that might not just be willing to naturally fold themselves into the status quo of parish life. ….