CARA, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, has just published some speculative demographics (h/t New Advent) on Catholic reverts—those of us raised as Catholics who leave the Church for a time and then come back. The numbers are interesting to me, as is CARA’s contention that reverts, and not just immigrants, are helping to keep Church membership numbers steady in the face of attrition by mortality, low birth rates, and drift away from the Church.
Who are the Catholic reverts? Currently, these are people who are disproportionately between the ages of 25 and 34 (currently a combination of the oldest Millennials and the youngest of the Post-Vatican II Generation). A plurality of regularMass attending Catholic reverts (41%) are of the Post-Vatican II Generation (ages 31 to 51). Another numerous group of reverts are in their retirement years (age 65 or older). Younger reverts may be coming back as they marry and raise children—seeking out sacraments. Seniors may turn back to the faith of their youth just at the moment they begin to face the autumn of their life.
Behind the numbers, of course, are stories. I’ve shared some of my reasons for reverting, but I’m always curious. If you are a revert, what brought you back? If you are a lapsed or “ex”-Catholic, what if anything would call you back? If your parish has a ministry of outreach to Catholics no longer practicing, of what does it consist? Many of the standard Welcome Home resources used by parishes and dioceses are geared more to converts than reverts, but I think we are overlooking an untapped source of energy for the New Evangelization in the renewed zeal of the second-time-arounders. Speak up!