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Kelsey Burgans |Youth Minister
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Survey Answers & Our Response
Around Thanksgiving, we asked our students to anonymously submit their answers to a survey, in response to two recent publications from the Stronger Catholic Families Initiative. This one asks what the Church expects of parents, as well as what parents expect of the Church. This one discusses why the parents and the Church need to partner together in developing the young person’s faith. Here’s what we found:
#1. Do you have faith, and if so, why?
Students shared about their belief in the Real Presence, how Jesus helped their family, the love they received from God. While we were happy to see that our students who answered this question almost unanimously answered yes, there were a few things that we found that are noteworthy. A couple of our students truthfully responded that they do have faith but just not all the time or that they weren’t “really into it”. While there is certainly help for our students, we want them to know sometimes our faith is tested, and it can be difficult to maintain faith. I’m reminded by the “Nothing I Hold On To” by Will Reagan. “I lean not on my understanding // My life is in the hands of the Maker of heaven // I give it all to You, God // Trusting that You'll make something beautiful out of me”- may this prayerful song be true!
#2. When has your faith played a pivotal role in your life?
Some of our students weren’t as sure about this question, but others shared incredible testimonies. Some talked about that they know that God is always with them, and they could always trust Him, even when they were sad or scared. Another person talked about being in a car crash and being safe. Someone else mentioned seeing how others responded in a crisis, while another wrote about when he or she was sick. Another student wrote that they were moved when they visited beautiful churches.
#3. How are you motivated to grow in holiness?
Several of our students answered that they are seeking eternal life with God in Heaven. Someone else responded that by turning to Sacred Scripture and attending Mass/PSR/ and youth group have helped in their desire to live a life of virtue. Another student reported that he or she wants to be challenged by seeing something powerful. I was also impressed by a student writing that avoiding certain things (video games, bad media, etc.) helped him or her to live a holier life.
#4. If you would like to have a better faith or relationship with God right now, what are you willing to do?
Believe it or not, the overwhelming amount of students who answered this question said that they would like to attend Mass more often during the week (some even said every day) with their families! Other students said they would pray more, and other wrote about wanting to improve by becoming better versions of themselves. My favorite answer to this question was, “I would tell people about God.” This is a beautiful example of someone who recognizes the call to be a missionary disciple of Jesus. Pope Francis said, “"The missionary disciple has first of all a center, a point of reference, which is the person of Jesus… the Apostles have nothing of their own to announce, nor capable on their own to show for themselves, but they speak and act as those 'sent,' as messengers of Jesus."
#5. What do you want your faith life to look like in 20 years?
“Big” and “blessed” were the most popular answers. Some students spoke about their desire to be happy with their families, while a couple of other students wanted to go to Mass/Adoration more often.
#6. Why do you pray?
According to our students, some weren’t really sure but did so out of obligation. Others wrote that they used a lot of their prayer time asking for His help. A few of our students even mentioned praying for others, especially the sick.
#7. How often do you pray?
These answered were much more varied. A handful reported praying at least once per day. Others said that they would pray once a week or two weeks. Two others reported praying a couple of times per week, while others reported praying sometimes or barely. The most popular time mentioned to pray was at meals.
#8. Who taught you to pray?
These were beautiful to read- many mentioned both parents, some mentioned just their mother, and one student said their father taught them to pray. We also had a few students say that their teachers taught them to pray.
#9. Why do you go to Mass, and how often do you go to Mass?
A few of our students responded by saying they attend Mass because they love God and want to receive Holy Communion. Other answers included, “to have a better life”, “obligation”, and to be with family. Our students were split in their answers- half said they attended Mass once per week while the other half said they go twice per week.
#10. Do you think praying works?
All of our students reported that they believe praying works. Many said that God always hears us and wants to help us. Someone wrote that prayer can make you a better person. One student mentioned sick people being healed, while another talked about his or her heart having been changed through prayer.
So, what can we take from all this? Primarily, we cannot and should not allow the practice of our faith be an “activity” that our family does together. Instead, we need to accompany our young like Pope Francis acknowledges. It is true that on a national level or even here in our parish that there is a clear connection between a family’s practice of their faith and an individual student’s practice of their faith. We’re happy to see that our students are hungry for Jesus; however, they are not always able to seek him out on their own. What are we doing to help our teens grow in their relationship with Christ? What can our youth ministry do to help you, as a parent, take ownership as being the primary leaders of faith within your family? Let us get our youth (and ourselves, also) to Heaven together!
St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church abides by the Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama Youth Protection Program. Through annual training, our students are reminded that they are made in God's image and carry dignity. To review the materials associated with our Safe Envioronment/Sexual Abuse Prevention, please click here. For more information about becoming a chaperone and earning Youth Protection certification, click here.