Details of Thesis

TitleHow Young Catholics Come To Faith: Why they continue to practise their faith and how they understand their identity as Catholics
Author McKinley, Diana Wendy
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2011
AbstractThe purpose of this study was to investigate how young Catholics came to faith and why they continued to practise their Catholic faith, despite falling Mass attendance generally. The study used a qualitative methodology to examine the faith development of twenty-three young Catholic adults aged twenty-one to forty years from six dioceses in Australia. The research found there were seven main factors that influenced the faith development of these young Catholics; a) faith based family, b) well run retreats and events like World Youth Day, c) welcoming and faithful parishes, d) regular prayer, e) spiritual music, f) faith education, and g )spiritual mentors. The principal factor in this process of faith development was the influence of highly committed and practising Catholic parents, both of whom gave the same religious message to their children. Parents who provided a stable home for their children AND socialised their children into the Catholic faith had faith-filled children in this cohort. Socialising children into the faith involved family prayer, talking to children regularly about matters of faith, being involved themselves in the life of the parish, and taking their children to Mass and reconciliation. Well run retreats and events like World Youth Day were extremely important for faith development because they met like minded Catholics, enjoyed good music, and received good catechesis relevant to their lives. All of which had occurred in an enjoyable environment. Faith filled communities where the young person attended Mass and received the Eucharist provided a spiritual base where they felt welcome and comfortable. Regular prayer was shown to be important for both the development and maintenance of faith. These young adults revealed an eclectic choice of prayer as did their spiritual music preferences. Listening to spiritual music lifted their spirit toward contemplation. Formal faith education assisted in the development of faith and helped young people to accept and personalise what they had been taught as children. Participants in the study who had experienced the influence of a spiritual mentor found that the spiritual mentor had helped them to discover new and relevant ways of being a practising Christian and approaching life. The research also discovered that being Catholic was intrinsic to the identity of these young adults.
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