The research study Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics seeks to understand more fully, and in young people’s own words, why young people leave the Catholic Church. The reasons are often not what most adults and church leaders think. Released in 2017, this study helps demystify the dynamics of religious disaffiliation and correct the inaccurate assumptions many church leaders make about disaffiliation.

This qualitative study is a statistically sound sample of the 5.4 million individuals in the United States who are former Catholics between the ages of 15 and 25.

The study may be disturbing, even disruptive. As a narrative-based study it reveals young people telling their stories of why they left the church—in their own words, uncensored and unfiltered. They speak frankly, with sometimes brutal honesty.

Some of what they have to say may be unpleasant, even disturbing, for the church to hear, and yet it is the first study that does not attempt to cast disaffiliation into overly generalized categories or to suggest that the reasons for disaffiliation are simple to understand. They are not. Young people disaffiliate from the church for reasons as diverse as the individuals’ lived experiences.

Public, Candid Conversation Explores Disaffiliation from Catholic Church
Minnesota Public Radio Podcast

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Why Do Young People Leave the Catholic Church?

Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics, a comprehensive report, is based on the unprecedented national study conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University and Saint Mary’s Press Catholic Research Group. In their own words, young people share the reasons why they are leaving the Catholic Church, and religion in general.

What they have to say will likely surprise you.

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News & Articles

January 29, 2019

Ministry in Time of Rediscovery, Redefinition

“Outreach and ministry to the young church is going through a time of rediscovery and redefinition,” says Tammy Becht, director of the Office of Youth and […]
January 22, 2019

Why Stories Matter

For this week’s blog, we post an article and link to a webinar from the Journal of Missional Practice. To access the webinar, simply click on […]
January 16, 2019

Podcast Discusses Young People and Church

In a recent podcast, parish ministry leader and consultant John Rinaldo interviewed Dr. Bob McCarty, coauthor of the Going, Going, Gone research study on the dynamics […]
January 15, 2019

We All Need a Good Place to Ask Questions

Often emerging from conversations with those who have chosen to disaffiliate from the Catholic Church is the observation, call it a complaint, from disaffiliates that growing […]
January 10, 2019

Podcast Explores Disaffiliation and Catholic Culture

Disaffiliation and Catholic culture was the subject of a recent podcast by Catholic School Matters Radio Hour. Among those interviewed was John Vitek, president and CEO […]
December 18, 2018

How To Be a Spiritual Companion for Young People?

In last week’s blog post, Jonathan Lewis discussed the need for spiritual mentors for young adults in the Catholic Church. That need also was the focus […]

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We invite you to share your story with us. What led you to be “done” with the church or religion or belief in God altogether? We are interested in hearing your story.

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