REGINA – Immigration from non-European countries in Asia, Africa and Central American Catholic countries is what will keep the Catholic Church alive and vibrant, said David Sax, executive director of Catholic Family Services Society.
Sax said regular church attendance is now estimated at 14 to 18 per cent, more and more Catholics are marrying non-Catholics, and the majority of children attending Catholic schools do not have families that regularly attend church.
Society is changing more rapidly than in the past and will continue to change, he said in the recent Reidy Lecture at St. Martin's Church.
Sax quoted research by the Vanier Institute that showed 30 per cent of adults aged 35 to 44 experienced what was described as overwhelming stress.
Faith communities need to ask how they have reached out to bring good news to young families, he said.
This is of particular concern for the Catholic community. Religious instruction and ritual, he said, is critical during the first 12 years of a child's life and parental engagement is vital as well.
Yet much of what the Church, family and school try to pass on to children is in "a language and symbolic system that they do not understand," he said.
The Church does not meet their sense of fairness, equality, attachment to others, and the need for experimentation and personal values.
Youth need opportunities to discuss, challenge, experiment and review their experiences in an open-minded atmosphere if they are to grow, he said.