Clara Lai speaks to some young people who have not been going to Mass regularly, as well as Fr Brian D’Souza for the Office for Young People’s response to this issue.

What would make you go back to church?
I don’t know where and how to start, I haven’t gone in such a long time that it’s awkward I guess. Now I just feel like a stranger in church.
Timothy, 18,  Church of Christ the King

Is there anything about going to church that you miss?
The warmth among people 
What would make you go back to church?
Influence of family members
Isabelle, 22, Church of the Nativity of the BVM

Why did you eventually stop going to church?
I didn’t feel any connection with God and I felt that coming to church and being active in a ministry was not helping me in any way. And I felt that the church was too indoctrinating and stifling and I don’t think that’s what religion should be about.
– Julie, 19, Church of Christ the King

Why did you eventually stop going to church?
I slowly lost interest in the religion after I entered army, with the tiring week in camp, usually I didn’t feel the need to go to church at the end of the week. Then somehow, after I ORD-ed the momentum of not going to church carried on I guess.
– Patrick, 21, Church of Christ the King

Why did you eventually stop going to church?
I still go to church but my National Service duties have gotten in the way recently. Personally, I feel people especially youths stop going after Catechism stops. Catechism class for me was a place to meet friends, do things in retreats and camps and learn about God. After Confirmation it’s all just Mass, and honestly it can be a little dry I guess and then you’re not always in a fun environment with your friends and learning about God.
– Matthew, 20, Church of the Holy Spirit

What would make you go back to church?
If I knew, I’d be in church already.
– Esther, 23, Church of the Holy Cross

Do you ever feel like you want to start going to church again but don’t know where and how to start?
Not one bit, and that’s okay with me! I’m frequently treated by select Christians alike as a lost lamb, of some sort – it’s something I don’t appreciate. People straying from their religion is a personal matter; Some people may drift away because they’re lazy, but just as many (if not more) left for a reason that they’ve pondered upon for very long. The parish tends to appreciate those people who struggle with their faith and eventually realise that they belong to God, but what about those who realise that they don’t? We went through just as much of a struggle with figuring that out, and sometimes instead of with respect, we’re treated like we need to be saved (we don’t!).
– Nicholas, 20, Church of St Francis Xavier

Why did you eventually stop going to church?
I still go to church, just not regularly. A major reason why I eventually stopped going regularly, though, was because of the homilies. A lot of them I couldn’t relate to, because I felt that the Fathers never wrote things that were really relevant to youths.
Do you ever feel like you want to start going to church again but don’t know where and how to start?
Always, always. I often feel left out from the other youth members in church, so I don’t really reach out to others, and I feel like I need to be constantly sure about my faith first before I try to dedicate myself back into the church.
– Anna, 19, Church of the Nativity of the BVM

Why did you eventually stop going to church?
I started to see it as a ritual and not a need. And that the one hour of Mass could be instead used to do things to give to the less fortunate. What was the point of going for Mass week in and week out without ever lifting a finger to help the needy right?
Do you ever feel like you want to start going to church again but don’t know where and how to start?
I feel like it is a place I can go to recharge my spiritual batteries. I believe I can be a better Christian through my actions instead of just going along with the traditions mindlessly.
– Terry, 20, Church of the Holy Spirit

Why did you eventually stop going to church?
No apparent reason, just gradually stopped going!
Is there anything about going to church that you miss?
The inspiring feeling you get after every Mass.
Do you ever feel like you want to start going to church again but don’t know where and how to start?
Yes!
What would make you go back to church?
Having people to go with!
– Benjamin, 20, Church of Divine Mercy


Youth chaplain Fr Brian D’Souza’s response:


The Church has in recent times been aware of the many people who have left the Church, not just the young,  and she has been actively trying to respond to this reality.

It should be highlighted from the onset that this phenomenon is understandable considering the immense ways in which our world has changed and the prevalent philosophies such as relativism, subjectivism and secularism that pervades our societies.

The young people today have grown up in an age where there are many forces that draw them away from a life of Faith and it is true that the Church must make a concerted effort in reaching out to the many of her sons and daughters who have left the Church.

This is at the heart of the thrust of the New Evangelisation that the Universal Church has undertaken and which is also the emphasis of our new Archbishop.

We at the Office for Young People (OYP) are doing our best to reach out to young people in Singapore and whilst there are many stories of young men and women who have left the Church, we are also heartened and encouraged by many young men and women who are also passionately and radically living their lives for Christ.

The recent School of Witness (SOW) is a good example of how the Church has something invaluable to offer young people of today. At this point, we would also like to emphasise that the issue at hand is not merely about church attendance or membership but ultimately about knowing and following Jesus Christ.

Young people have a deep hunger for authenticity and it is our conviction that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power and attractiveness to captivate the hearts and minds of our young people if only we present Him to them in an unadulterated way.

We, as a Christian community, have often not facilitated this life-changing encounter between our young people and Jesus Christ.

The Office for Young People (OYP) in the Archdiocee is committed to trying to facilitate this personal encounter with Jesus for our young people and hope to inspire in them a commitment to a life of Christian discipleship through sharing life and faith in communities that will reflect the life of the Church. 

We will also be reaching out to Youth Workers in the parishes and priests involved in Youth Ministry to help them change their mindset about Youth Ministry.  Most parishes have Youth groups and they are seen and directed to be of service in the parishes. Thus the goal of a Youth group is to do activities rather than deepening the call of discipleship.

We trust that the Lord is raising up for Himself a generation of passionate disciples amongst our young people. We have already seen the budding of this amongst the young people we have started to work with and we are confident the Lord is doing something beautiful. We invite all who are interested in partnering us in our mission to evangelise our young people.

Office for Young People’s website is www.oyp.com.sg

The Church has in recent times been aware of the many people who have left the Church, not just the young,  and she has been actively trying to respond to this reality.
It should be highlighted from the onset that this phenomenon is understandable considering the immense ways in which our world has changed and the prevalent philosophies such as relativism, subjectivism and secularism that pervades our societies.
The young people today have grown up in an age where there are many forces that draw them away from a life of Faith and it is true that the Church must make a concerted effort in reaching out to the many of her sons and daughters who have left the Church.
This is at the heart of the thrust of the New Evangelisation that the Universal Church has undertaken and which is also the emphasis of our new Archbishop.
We at the Office for Young People (OYP) are doing our best to reach out to young people in Singapore and whilst there are many stories of young men and women who have left the Church, we are also heartened and encouraged by many young men and women who are also passionately and radically living their lives for Christ.
The recent School of Witness (SOW) is a good example of how the Church has something invaluable to offer young people of today. At this point, we would also like to emphasise that the issue at hand is not merely about church attendance or membership but ultimately about knowing and following Jesus Christ.
Young people have a deep hunger for authenticity and it is our conviction that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power and attractiveness to captivate the hearts and minds of our young people if only we present Him to them in an unadulterated way. We, as a Christian community, have often not facilitated this life-changing encounter between our young people and Jesus Christ.
The Office for Young People (OYP) in the Archdiocee is committed to trying to facilitate this personal encounter with Jesus for our young people and hope to inspire in them a commitment to a life of Christian discipleship through sharing life and faith in communities that will reflect the life of the Church.  
We will also be reaching out to Youth Workers in the parishes and priests involved in Youth Ministry to help them change their mindset about Youth Ministry.  Most parishes have Youth groups and they are seen and directed to be of service in the parishes.  Thus the goal of a Youth group is to do activities rather than deepening the call of discipleship.
We trust that the Lord is raising up for Himself a generation of passionate disciples amongst our young people. We have already seen the budding of this amongst the young people we have started to work with and we are confident the Lord is doing something beautiful. We invite all who are interested in partnering us in our mission to evangelise our young people.

Office for Young People’s website is www.oyp.com.sg. n

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