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What One GenX’er Wants All Millennial Catholics to Know

We are spotlighting the thoughts and wisdom of one member of Generation X – Leslie Sholly.  You can read more about Leslie on her blog Life in Every Limb and follow Life in Every Limb on Facebook!

Our definition of millennial comes from Pew Research Center:

“Anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 23 to 38 in 2019) is considered a Millennial, and anyone born from 1997 onward is part of a new generation.”

And a Generation X’er (born between 1965 and 1981):

As Pew Research unflatteringly referred to them in a 2014 report, Gen X is “America’s neglected ‘middle child,’” and we don’t hear much about the group. It seems that all eyes are on the slowly retiring baby boomers or the ascending millennials, now the world’s majority generation. But our recent study revealed that Gen X is playing a critical — and underappreciated — role in leadership as organizations grapple with digital transformation. (this quote is from an article titled Generation X – not Millennials – are Changing the Nature of Work)

So, imagine the millennial is the youngest/baby of the family – and this is what his or her older sister has to say about what is being done well, and what little brother (or sister) could improve upon. We’d love to heart millennial’s rebuttal someday . . .

1. What do you wish your generation had in terms of “church life” that millennials have? Why should millennials embrace this gift?

The internet.

And I don’t think I need to tell them to embrace it as they obviously already have! The support in leading a faithful Catholic life, the opportunities to learn about the faith, and the friendships with other Catholics available online are blessings that took a lot more effort when I was in my 20s and early 30s.

2. What is something many faithful Catholic Gen X’ers did that Millennials should know about and continue?

This is a hard question because I can only answer in terms of the people I know personally, the internet not having been a thing back in the day, and I feel like my experience might be different as a result of where I grew up as much as when.

I live in the Bible Belt and Catholics are a tiny minority here.

While when I was growing up it was weird to be Catholic, it was normal to be religious.  But outside of school and church on Sunday, there weren’t a lot of opportunities for explicitly Catholic activities—no feast day celebrations or processions or other things I have heard take place in communities with big Catholic populations.

And there was a lot of anti-Catholic prejudice.

We had perseverance, I guess!

3. Personally, what advice do you think this generation needs the most regarding faith and prayer?

Studies are now showing that people are becoming less religious.

So just being assured that faith is important, that prayer works, that it isn’t enough to be “spiritual,” that you need that community.

Advice is useless though—examples are what matters.

4. What do you see Millennials doing that is incredible and awesome in regards to being Catholic?

Millennials are, I think, better catechized than we were.

I grew up in this weird time just after Vatican II when everyone was still figuring things out. I went to Catholic school and was steeped in the faith every day, yet many of our religion texts were fairly content-free.

And I was being raised by a mother whose catechesis was all pre-Vatican II.

My own kids learned a lot more about the Church and its teachings in school than I did.


5. What do you think young Catholics should embrace more?

I would like to see more young Catholics involved in parishes.

When we were the age Millennials are now, my husband and I did a lot at church. He was the head of the KOC; we both served on Parish Council; I ran the Moms’ Group—we were out of the house more evenings than not, it seemed like, and we were almost always the youngest people doing any of these things.

In fact, we wore ourselves out and don’t do much in our parish other than go to Mass right now, so moderation is a good thing.

But it is nice for younger folks to be involved, and it sets a good example of service for their kids.

I would also like to see more young people involved in promoting the Social Teachings of the church. Millennials are definitely a pro-life generation, which is wonderful, but I would like to see more of them speaking out about other justice issues.

6. If you were in your 20’s now, how would you use technology to nurture your relationship with Jesus?

I would do the same things I do now—I just would have gotten to do them sooner.

That is, follow Catholic Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts; read Catholic blogs and news from people and organizations I respect; purchase merchandise from Catholic artisans; and join Catholic groups.

When I was in my 20s, my Catholic friends were from the parish Moms’ Group that I ran myself. The only readily available Catholic news was the diocesan paper.

7. Do you have any specific opinions or advice about how young people dress for Mass? Have you changed the way you dress to attend Mass at all in your life? Do you feel like “Sunday best” should still be a thing?

It’s none of my business how young people dress for Mass unless they are my own young people.

I have opinions like anyone else but I am far more likely to be scandalized by people chewing gum or receiving Communion inappropriately than by what they are wearing. At least they are there.

Theoretically, it would be nice if we all dressed up for Mass but I am not privy to everyone else’s story or circumstances.

I typically dress up for Mass.

I work at home and wear a nightgown half of every day so I like to dress up. But I wore jeans to Mass today and appreciate the freedom to do that on occasion.

My own Millennials were dressed very nicely indeed when they were small.

My Generation Z kids are another story. My daughter usually wears a skirt, but my son has sensory issues and Crocs, a t-shirt, and shorts or jeans are what he wears to Mass (and everywhere else) except on Christmas and Easter.

8. Who are some young Catholics you follow online that you feel really help keep our Catholic Faith alive? Do you suggest young Catholics follow them too?

I don’t know how old people are so I can’t be sure who is a Millennial and who is not!

I admire Anni Harry. She is authentic and vulnerable.

Shannon Evans writes beautifully about justice from a Catholic perspective.

I love Sterling Jaquith’s courses; she always makes me feel inspired.

They are a few among many!

My feed is full of uplifting posts from Catholics young and not-so-young because of Catholics Online. I suggest young Catholics check out all the bloggers listed in the directory. It’s good to expose yourself to a wide variety and I guarantee you will find people whose posts resonate with you.

9. What blog posts of yours do you want Millennials to read?

Read them all! Seriously, though, it would depend on the age of the Millennials and their stage in life.

I don’t really see myself as an authority on faith, but after 30 years of marriage and five children I do feel like I have a little wisdom to share in those areas.

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