Increased pastoral and theological attention to the vocational implications of baptism is sorely needed. As a small contribution to this conversation, this article will examine the insights of young Catholics and their self-described “former Catholic” peers (ages 15–29) regarding key aspects of the Christian life. These insights offer a foundation for evolving understandings of baptismal identity at both the center and the margins of the church. Two recent efforts to formally solicit the opinions of young people will be examined. They are the Pre-Synodal preparations for the 2018 Synod on Young People and the recent study, published by Saint Mary’s Press in collaboration with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) under the title Going, Going Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics.
The responses from these young people, placed in conversation with recent theological work on baptism and the lay vocation, offer possibilities for consideration as Catholics ponder the changing demographics of the Church. The conclusion will argue for the urgent necessity of listening to these voices and will suggest that a mystagogical approach offers one helpful path towards a deeper understanding and practice of the baptismal vocation.
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