The report reveals that disaffiliation is a process that happens over time,
typically prompted by a series of events or unresolved questions. Of those
surveyed, 35 percent identified as having no religious affiliation, nine
percent said they are some other non-Protestant Christian affiliation, 14
percent identified as an atheist or agnostic, nine percent identified as
Protestant, and fewer than one in ten of the remaining responded with
some other religious affiliation. When asked at what age they no longer
identified themselves as Catholic, 74 percent of the sample said between the
ages of 10 and 20, with the median age being 13 years old.
To release the study and start a discussion, Saint Mary’s Press hosted a symposium January 16-18, 2018, at the Maritime Conference Center near Baltimore, Maryland. It started with a discussion about the findings that included more than 200 people. Two days of discussion with nearly 65 national leaders in the Catholic Church followed the symposium. A number of Lasallians were among attendees, including three students from Calvert Hall College High School in Baltimore, Maryland, who were present at the opening discussion.
Matthew Mathai, a Calvert Hall senior and peer minister, attended the event to hear other perspectives and help him on his faith journey. He could relate to what he was hearing.
“When I was 13, I was making those questions,” Mathai said. “I was questioning, ‘What is this? What am I supposed to believe in? What is the purpose of life?’ And I think the biggest thing was that I was the one who took that initiative. And sometimes it’s not necessarily only on the parents, it’s also the church meeting me halfway. In my scenario, I met the church halfway. I was curious. I reached out, and my pastors and the church opened me up with loving arms. And it was through the church, and mainly through me, that I was able to find my way.”
Brother Timothy Coldwell, FSC, General Councilor for the Lasallian Region of North America, gave the closing address, in which he reflected on the days of discussion through the lens of Saint John Baptist de La Salle. He spoke about darkness and how students need educators to walk with them in their darkness.