Monday, September 26, 2011

Food for Thought: Millenials Blissfully Unaware of "Church News"

Check out this article by the research institution at Georgetown University, CARA (aka Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate).

New Catholics, New Media: More 'Bread and Circus' than Eucharist

In a recent article in OSV, CARA researcher Melissa Cidade noted a surprising statistic: only 17% of adult Millennial Catholics (those born after 1981) are aware of liturgical changes that will occur at English language Masses on the first Sunday of Advent.

Millennials represent about one in five adult Catholics (19%) and the oldest members of this generation were in elementary school when the Internet began to gain widespread use in the United States. They are sometimes described as the digital or new media generation. Many in the Church assume that the way to connect with this emergent generation of Catholics is not through traditional print media, television, or radio but online—through blogs, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter accessed on smart phones, tablets, and e-readers. The hope is often stated that we may be able to use new media to get this generation “back into the real world pews” that are more often populated by their parents and grandparents. ....

It is worth reading the entire article, which starts slow but picks up a lot of steam at the end. Short version: if the Church is hoping to reach millenials (or anyone) through the new media (facebook, twitter, etc.), good luck with that. It isn't happening.

Thoughts on why? Or how to better communicate the gospel message? Discuss....

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Silent Ignatian Retreats in 2011

Part of the Spirituality for the Vineyard "program" includes making students aware of offerings that help people grow in their spiritual lives, and discern vocations. A number of students last year did this through taking advantage of spiritual direction (if you want more information on spiritual direction, and who is trained in it in the Winona area, please contact Dr WD or Lynn Streefland in OCM). Small groups are also an option if people are interested in us setting them up for you.

This post is primarily about retreats. As usual, there are a lot of good retreat opportunities through Campus Ministry (Freshmen Retreat, TEC, them for details). But... if are you interested in a different type of retreat, one with more quiet, more focus on discernment...check out this is from the Broom Tree Retreat Center in South Dakota (approx. 5.5 hours from Winona):

What you can expect from a Four-Day Ignatian Silent Retreat at Broom Tree?

Starting on Thursday nights with registration at 6 pm, both our Men's and Women's Ignatian Silent Retreats generally conclude on Sundays at 5 pm.

The daily schedule contains four or five general conferences, each approximately a half hour in length. These conferences are based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Each conference is followed by a free period in which to reflect and pray on the given scripture presented and to apply them to one’s own life. There is also an opportunity for Spiritual Direction daily.

Each day the retreatant has the opportunity to participate in the Eucharist, the rosary, Sacrament of Reconciliation and Benediction. Being silent, waiting, and listening for God to speak - with nowhere to go, no agenda to keep, and no superficial social contact is the key ingredient for communicating with God. The beauty of the grounds also helps dispose oneself to hearing the Lord speak. Remember, Elijah did not find God in the earthquake, hurricane, or fire, but in the quiet breeze.(1 Kings 19:12).


Broom Tree Retreat and Conference Center is sustained by the donations of the retreatants. All are welcome at Broom Tree. No one is excluded because of inability to make a retreat donation. Broom Tree's cost to provide meals and lodging for a Silent Retreat is $240/person ($80/day). We ask that you prayerfully consider this when making your donation.

What to Wear?

Casual clothing is recommended- slacks, sweaters, sports shirts, make for a relaxing weekend. Also, wear comfortable walking shoes and bring suitable outdoor wear for taking hikes on our trails.

What are the rooms like?

Each retreatant enjoys a private room, with a queen sized bed, private bath, and chair for relaxing with an over-sized window to admire the beautiful scenery God has created at Broom Tree. An Adoration Chapel is also available to share quiet time with God. There is also a large dining room and exercise facilities. We also have a gift shop and bookstore located in the retreat center.

There is also a podcast with a couple of the conferences given there on the spiritual retreats page.

2011 Women's Ignatian Silent Retreats

September 15-18
October 20-23
November 3-6

2011 Men's Ignatian Silent Retreats

September 22-25

If you are interested (and OBVIOUSLY check your class schedule to see if this would be possible for you, because this will entail unexcused absences from class), contact Broom Tree asap. Contact information is on the website page.

Monday, September 5, 2011

John Allen on WYD and "Evangelical Catholicism"


John Allen is a widely respected journalist on all things Catholic. This is part of a column he wrote about World Youth Day, or more generally, young people in the Catholic Church. It seems to be generating a lot of buzz. What do you think?

Defining Evangelical Catholicism

“Evangelical Catholicism” is a term being used to capture the Catholic version of a 21st century politics of identity, reflecting the long-term historical transition in the West from Christianity as a culture-shaping majority to Christianity as a subculture, albeit a large and influential one. I define Evangelical Catholicism in terms of three pillars:

  • A strong defense of traditional Catholic identity, meaning attachment to classic markers of Catholic thought (doctrinal orthodoxy) and Catholic practice (liturgical tradition, devotional life, and authority).
  • Robust public proclamation of Catholic teaching, with the accent on Catholicism’s mission ad extra, transforming the culture in light of the Gospel, rather than ad intra, on internal church reform.
  • Faith seen as a matter of personal choice rather than cultural inheritance, which among other things implies that in a highly secular culture, Catholic identity can never be taken for granted. It always has to be proven, defended, and made manifest.

I consciously use the term “Evangelical” to capture all this rather than “conservative,” even though I recognize that many people experience what I’ve just sketched as a conservative impulse. Fundamentally, however, it’s about something else: the hunger for identity in a fragmented world.

Historically speaking, Evangelical Catholicism isn’t really “conservative,” because there’s precious little cultural Catholicism these days left to conserve. For the same reason, it’s not traditionalist, even though it places a premium upon tradition. If liberals want to dialogue with post-modernity, Evangelicals want to convert it – but neither seeks a return to a status quo ante. Many Evangelical Catholics actually welcome secularization, because it forces religion to be a conscious choice rather than a passive inheritance. As the late Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger of Paris, the dictionary definition of an Evangelical Catholic, once put it, “We’re really at the dawn of Christianity.”

Paradoxically, this eagerness to pitch orthodox Catholicism as the most satisfying entrée on the post-modern spiritual smorgasbord, using the tools and tactics of a media-saturated global village, makes Evangelical Catholicism both traditional and contemporary all at once.


In that sense, World Youth Day is the premier reminder of a fundamental truth about Catholicism in the early 21st century. Given the double whammy of Evangelical Catholicism as both the idée fixe of the church’s leadership class, and a driving force among the inner core of younger believers, it’s destined to shape the culture of the church (especially in the global north, i.e., Europe and the United States) for the foreseeable future. One can debate its merits, but not its staying power.

In the real world, the contest for the Catholic future is therefore not between the Evangelicals and some other group -- say, liberal reformers. It’s inside the Evangelical movement, between an open and optimistic wing committed to “Affirmative Orthodoxy,” i.e., emphasizing what the church affirms rather than what it condemns, and a more defensive cohort committed to waging cultural war.
How that tension shakes out among today’s crop of church leaders will be interesting to follow, but perhaps even more decisive will be which instinct prevails among the hundreds of thousands of young Catholics in Spain this week, and the Evangelical generation they represent.

That’s the big picture in Madrid, whatever the individual brush strokes end up looking like.

There is a lot to think about here. What do you think of the term "evangelical Catholicism"? Do you think Allen is right in his characterization of WYD, young devoted Catholics, and the rest of the world? What about his forecast for the future?

Read the whole piece and discuss!

"What I did on my summer vacation...."

If you did anything "unusual" and Theology related on your summer break, we may want to hear from you! WYD? Totus Tuus? Interning? A really great retreat? Something else? If you have pictures, and/or you are willing to write a short piece about what you did and how you are "taking it to the classroom" at SMU, please drop me a line!

(Yes, I'm on sabbatical, but I'll be checking email regularly.)

And PLEASE encourage your "friends of theology" to follow this website through fb, email, or Twitter. Your choice. We just want to stay in good contact with you all about opportunities on campus, for jobs, volunteering, and other things to think and pray about....

--Dr WD
swindley at smumn dot edu