So, is YAM worth it? Is it something that Catholics should be spending time and money on? I think so. And Bishop Barron also seems to think so; here’s what he said recently in an interview:
“I don’t know any issue more pressing now in the life of the Church than addressing the problem of the massive attrition of our own people, especially the young. Those professing no religious affiliation has become a veritable army in our country, and their numbers are especially strong among the young. By some estimates, 40% of those under thirty claim no religion. How to re-engage the “nones,” and to prevent the rise of future “nones,” should be, in my judgment, priority one in the Catholic Church.”
Yup, sounds like he thinks it matters.
Still, YAM is a tough sell, as fundraising causes go. It lacks a certain emotional tug that is immediate for other charities. For example, here’s Fr. Joe, trying to raise money to care for your city’s homeless. You know, the people who are everywhere, with absolutely nothing, who make you feel really guilty whenever you’re outdoors in a populated area? Can you spare a couple bucks for them? And now, here’s a GoFundMe for somebody you remember from college, who’s unemployed, has got 5 kids, and has suddenly been widowed. Please be generous; anything helps. Next, there is the pregnancy center, asking for whatever you can give, in order to literally save the life of a child.
You’re agonizing over how to divide your money between these urgent causes, but wait… here comes one more guy. He’d like you to set up a recurring donation so that, uh, we can have kickball leagues, happy hours, and a dance for all the 20 somethings around here. As I said, tough sell; but I still think it’s worthwhile. You just need to look at it long-term.
YAM’s like a Roth IRA. The benefit of it isn’t immediately available to us, but you better make sure you’re putting something into it. You also need to make sure that the people running your investment portfolio have a plan, and it’s a good one.
And that’s where I start to get a little fired up. The people running our YAM investment portfolios are about to start hearing a whole lot of advice – nay, receiving directives – from the Catholic equivalent of Bernie Madoff, Gordon Gekko, and the top executive leadership from Enron. In October, the 2018 Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment will be held in Rome. Its focus is on the 16-29 age demographic, so that’s basically YAM. I’m expecting a controversial and confusing Church document, a bunch of useless token task-forces, re-affirmation of stale, old, bland ideas, and some quality punchline material for Eye of the Tiber to come about as the most notable results of that synod.
Never fear! For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and so in response to some of the less-than-helpful input that might be on the way, here’s this series of blog posts from me. I have the answers on how to do YAM with all the correctness. I’ll get to the road-map real soon here, but there’s one more thing I need to address before I get into that: those “nones” Bishop Barron talks about… they are there because for decades, we’ve been failing to reach young people. In my next installment, I’ll take a critical inventory of what’s been tried, and why it didn’t/doesn’t/won’t work. They say the best writing comes when the author truly enjoys writing it. Criticizing other people and things is one of my favorite pastimes, so the next installment has extra potential.