Made for Greatness – Reaching Young Adults

It seems to me that the biggest and most difficult group to evangelize are young adults and teens.  They’re all over the place – spiritually and emotionally.  It’s a group that NEEDS to be reached if we are serious about our evangelization efforts.  The New Evangelization has to begin with this group if it is going to be a success.

I was blessed to be able to partake in an event that has been reaching thousands of young adults for the last few years – A Holy Hour for Vocations this evening sponsored by the Vocations office of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.  Take a look at some awesome pictures of the evening here.  Up until this year the Holy Hour had been held at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington – but it outgrew the chapel there.  tonight over 700 young adults and teens and others filled St. Ignatius Church in Hicksville, NY.  Confessions were heard all evening.  Dozens of seminarians tok part in the procession.  This Holy Hour is seems has been directly responsible for a number of young men entering the seminary.  What great hope.  What a blessing to see so many in prayer before our Eucharistic Lord.

Young adults are difficult to reach – mostly because we as a Church don’t know what they want/need.  This afternoon I stumbled across an Open Letter to Priests by Young Catholics which listed a number of things to do to reach this often misunderstood group.  Some of the suggestions are surprising.  Take a look at part of that letter:

…here are some things we want to share with you. You may know this already as some of you are from our generation. But we want to share anyway, just in case you don’t know.

First, we love orthodoxy. We’re hungry for the truth. We’re hungry for sane logic, common sense, and Jesus Christ.

A huge number of us love the traditions of the Church that our parents and Grandparents didn’t like so much. You know why? Because practices that are distinctly Catholic help us stand out in a world that is obsessed with mediocrity, fitting in, and being “normal.”

The practices that make us distinctly Catholic – like frequent confession, adoration, the Rosary, and even the regular use of incense at Mass – in a mysterious way, these things  help build up our identity as Catholics in the world.

While you may think there’s too much of it, we think there is far too little.

Second, prayer is tough for us.  The world we grew up in is a world unlike anything you can ever imagine. We don’t remember a time without the Internet in our homes. Our attention spans are embarassingly short, and silence is almost non-existent in our day-to-day lives.

We never learned how to just sit and ‘waste time’ with God.

Pray with us. Offer more times for adoration. Teach us the prayers of the Church, like the liturgy of the hours, adoration, and the countless novenas. We are thirsty for this stuff, and truly desire to make our parishes houses of prayer.

Third, we need help dealing with porn, sex, and relationships. The culture of death is here, and although we know Christ is triumphant in the end, it’s winning in a lot of our lives right now. We need help, and we need it fast.

More then confession, we need more resources and support to combat the slavery of porn. Let’s be honest here: a majority of guys in our generation are hooked on it.

It’s not enough to tell us in confession that we need to pray more, use more blockers, or do something nice for somebody else as a penance. Those are great, but the problem is still getting worse.

What we need are people in our lives who will help us fight it. It’s embarrassing to ask for help, or to talk about this outside of the confessional, so please start organizing programs, groups, and mobilizing men and women who are steadfast to engage our generation for mentorship and spiritual direction. If you don’t, who will?

Fourth, don’t be afraid to teach and preach NFP. The Church’s teaching about sex and sexuality is good news. recent study showed that a majority of Catholic women still don’t agree with the Church about certain aspects of the teaching on articifical contraception. However, those same women are open to hearing why the church teaches what she does.

We’re used to hearing about sex, but from all the wrong sources. The Church’s wisdom is saving grace, and we want more of it.

Fifth, preach more about Jesus, and that he is alive. So many of us went to Catholic schools, but so few of us realize that Jesus is actually, really alive.

This is concerning, because this is why we are Christians.

This basic fact about our faith is not known. Given the fact that most Catholics learn about God from the ten minute homily, which often leave more to be desired in terms of content, we can see why.

Lastly, we need more opportunities for the sacraments in general. It’s difficult for anybody of any generation to make the 3:30pm confession time on Saturday afternoon, especially for those of us who have two jobs and a young family to take care of. Appointments are great, too, but having at least one more opportunity once in a while would be ideal.

We know, you’re busy too. But if the sacraments actually are what we say they are, then they need to be more widely available. The world is quenching us, and we’re thirsty for the Fountain of Life.

Go Read the entire Letter – its worth it.

Please God may we respond to the New Evangelization with renewed conviction and dedication.  May we as a Church be able to reach these young people who are indeed made for greatness and are in such desperate need of Christ.

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  • Ryan Eggenberger

    Father Duffy, thank you for sharing my post today and giving feedback. I really appreciate it!

  • Andrew

    Hello Father, my name is Andrew Graupmann, and I am a 24 year old missionary serving with FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). I really enjoyed this post, and I think it rings so true. For the first four and a half (I took a fifth year) years of college, I was a non practicing Lutheran. Through FOCUS, and the incredible witness of my girlfriend, I was able to be confirmed in the Church this past Divine Mercy Sunday and am now serving on campus, helping bring other students to find their faith.
    Watered down faith does no one any good. It was in front of the Blessed Sacrament that my conversion really took place. We need the sacraments and the good news! It is incredibly important. I just wanted to also tip you off to an incredible event that will take place this next January 2-6. It is the FOCUS National Conference, SEEK2013 ( We are planning for around 7000 college students to be attending, and their will be mass and adoration everyday! Maybe you already knew about this, but it is just an amazing experience for young people, and anyone and everyone is invited! Please feel free to share this with any young people you may be working with. God bless you and your mission!

  • Sergio

    Hi Father!

    I’ve only just begun frequenting your blog after coming across an article on it in the Long Island Catholic. I have only recently returned to the church of my childhood. I am 26 years old and saddened of the lost time with the Church but most important with our Father that i missed growing up. I would like to tell you that you are doing an excellent job!

    The new Evangelization has worked wonders as it reached out to me. Recently, I watched the Catholicism series produced by Word On Fire team overseen by Fr. Robert Barron of Chicago. I believe the Church to have a bright future as it has endured much worse in the past!! I must say that I agree with many of the statements/reasons given above by the young Catholics. Young Catholics must see the beauty of the Church not only in their own backyard but as it stansd throughout the world. They must see that this is a 2000 year old institution that has stood the test of time and that there are REASONS why the Word of our Savior Jesus Christ has endured for so many centuries!

    Great job Fr. Duffy! I live in Lynbrook but hope to drive out and visit you and watch you give Mass soon!

  • Fr.Murunga Pat- Kenya

    Fr.Duffy, This is indeed an eye opener. Was struck first by the name Duffy. Was taught by a Fr. Duffy many years ago. Am a priest with a very keen interest in the youth and Pontifical Missionary Children. Fr. I will keep my eyes for more of these.

  • Elizabeth

    We are so blessed on Long Island in the Diocsese of Rockville Centre to have so many young Orthodox Priests and leaders. I did see that list as well when it was originally online my reaction is wow we on Long Island know where its at! We have three Major events with Adoration including the Holy Hour for Greatness. Plus at these Holy Hours we have the Sacrament of Confession available. We also have great priests who preach on Jesus and the Saints. Just recently we had a Faith on Tap for the Young Adults and a wonderful Doctor in our Community spoke on Natural Family Planning. The room was alive and packed. Both young adult men and women attended and contributed to comments and questions. Yes getting Young Adults to attend church and become involed is hard how can one not here on Long Island? Thank You Fr. Duffy for being part of this Young Adult Community on Long Island!