Being back in faith formation for a year now after almost seven away I find myself ready for new information   I often find myself reading or listening to information that sounds just like what I heard before and is not helpful in any way.  Often I keep hearing the problems and then sort of a shoulder shrug and no answers or even suggestions on improvements.  So it was with some trepidation I began this book, Engaging a New Generation:  A Vision for Reaching Catholic Teens by Frank Mercadante.  

I was completely wrong!  And I can’t recall when I was so happy to have been wrong.  This book grabbed my attention from the fist chapter, “We don’t have a youth problem”all the way to the Cultivation Strategic Planing Model in Appendix B.  

Mercadante points out the problems, both in and out of the Church, reasons for the problems and possible ways to correct the problems.  It also reassured me that what I see in my parish is really happening and not unique.  He uses hard data and studies, such as the National Study on Youth and religious to point out what many of us see on a regular basis, “The majority (of Catholic teens) tended to be rather religiously and spiritually indifferent, uniformed and disengaged.”  One reason for this is that parents have not modeled a positive faith life and parishes focus on child more than adult/parent faith formation.  Which is ironic since if you have ever read the General Directory for Catechesis, you may recall that it stresses adult rather than child formation.

He reminds us that “parents are the single most important spiritual influence in their teenage children’s lives.”  Sadly, most parents have bought into the prevailing idea that they are somehow superfluous  only there to hand out money, make sure there’s food in the house and be a taxi driver.  As a person heavily invested in catechesis for all parishioners, this is important for me to know and convey to parents. 

Each chapter is relevant including the questions at the end of each chapter “For Consideration”  which help you think about the information presented and how to utilize it in your situation.  Anyone involved in parish life, but especially those ministering to youth and children needs to read this book and learn how to make the shifts in catechesis so we can better reach the Millennials and the iGeneration.  

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Engaging a New Generation. The Catholic Company is a great resource for tools to help you participate in the Year of Faith, including Year of Faith bible studies and exclusive Year of Faith personalized gifts. The Catholic Company also has all your Advent needs in stock, such as Advent calendars and Advent wreaths.

Book Review: Engaging a New Generation

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