CIESIELSKI: Baby Boomers in the life of the Church

April 10, 2018

Editor’s Note: This is part two of a series focusing on how Baby Boomers, those born from 1946 to 1964, are actively engaged in their parish communities.

This article profiles five persons from the Baby Boomer generation who share their active engagement in the Catholic Church as well as their aspirations for Boomers in the life of the Church.

Paul, a parishioner at Our Lady of Lavang, has worked extensively with the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis in providing catechist formation and teaching the Formation Toward Christian Ministry (FTCM) program for the Vietnamese Catholic community. Paul addressed his dependency and openness to God’s working in his life when he stated “what I have comes from God.” He expressed his happiness in being called by Christ to lead others to Him through his vocation. When people asked him “Who are you?” he answered, “I am an engineer by profession, but a catechist by vocation.”

Daphine, a parishioner at St. Mary of the Purification, is a certified youth minister, Assistant Director Religious Education for Middle School Program, RCIA team member, member of Seniors-in-Action, a young adult advisor, and parish Safe Environment Coordinator.

Sherri and Alex are parishioners at All Saints. Alex, who is in the Diaconate program, brings the Word to young teens who are poor in spirit. They both engage in fundraising ministries, serve as class leaders in marriage preparation, provide services to the homebound, and give a helping hand to the Third Age Learning Center (TALC) for older adults. They emphasized their serving with those from the young to the young-at-heart in their own “little ways” for the greater good.

Ann, also a parishioner at All Saints, is an active member of the parish Altar Society Treasure and TALC. She builds personal relationships by frequently driving friends to doctors, physical therapy visits, and to church activities. She notes that “talking with someone gives you the opportunity to help [make it] rewarding for everyone. As a Boomer, my church is very active. There is always something to do; the hard part is having the time to enjoy everything available.”

How do you relate what you do with bringing the Good News of Christ’s saving mission to others?
Paul: In my classes, I always relate what I have been presenting in relation to the Kerygma (Christian apostolic preaching) and the call to conversion and holiness, with the purpose of making my learners true missionary disciples through a life of witness.

Daphine: Because my involvement is multi-generational and catechetically-based, bible and scripture study has to be ongoing. Staying informed of what is going on within the Archdiocese is critical.

Sherri and Alex: We are called, Jesus listens, and by his example we are reminded to listen, serve and love our brothers and sisters. As Boomers, we are answering God’s call in this new stage of our lives.

What is one hope that you have for the Church?
Paul: I hope that the “Spirituality of Communion” is being preached in every Parish (see John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, No. 43).

Daphine: As it relates to Boomers, my hope is for a greater understanding of prayer and the ability to make way for their younger replacements in a mentoring role.

Sherri and Alex: As we serve with compassion, (we) pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ to listen when he calls.

How can the Church better reach out to or connect with Boomers to actively engage them in the life of the Church?
Paul: By living the Spirituality of Communion and make every parish and family a school of communion.

Daphine: For some Boomers, social isolation is still an issue. Reach out to them one-to-one or from the pulpit. Create listening sessions with them to address what they need or to identify the gifts that they have to offer others. [Provide] more opportunities for adult formation that can be offered to those with transportation limitations. Exercise greater use of age appropriate social media according to their knowledge of electronic devices.

Sherri and Alex: The couple emphasizes the importance of reaching out to Boomers as well as to all parishioners through their Sunday Mass ministries. In this way they can get to know others personally and help them to discover ministry opportunities which will enrich their own lives while supporting their Church family.

The shared experiences of these five persons are representative of the growing number of Boomers who can enrich the quality of parish life.

Through their pool of life resources, collective wisdom, and enduring faith, they can serve as mentors and life coaches to strengthen family life and energize the faith community. Invite them today to discern and affirm their gifts for the good of building Christ’s Church. 

Mark Ciesielski is an associate director with the Office of Aging Ministry.