Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 7, 2007
Battling Catholic stigma takes courage
She's twentysomething and sometimes 'guarded' about her faith
Me and My Church
By KIM HALDANE
As a 20-something, I reflect on why my generation, for the most part, is afraid of calling ourselves Catholic. A lot of us get around labelling ourselves Catholic by stating: "I grew up Catholic," or "I went to Catholic school."
Catholicism, it would seem, has become a label that my generation has a hard time owning up to. I think, in a large part, this has to do with the notion that our twenties is a time for self-development, a time for young people to find themselves and a time where selfishness is permitted.
When compared to our parents' generation, my peers tend to be more liberal and accepting when it comes to different cultures, lifestyles and choices.
I think our tolerance and acceptance of differences is due to the fact that in our twenties we are generally given time to adventure, learn and explore personal and societal boundaries. My generation is educated and well travelled. We are getting married later and honeymooning first.
However, with all these advances my generation does not attend Church as often anymore. The Church, which teaches tolerance and acceptance, is slowly losing my generation. This is often, and sometimes rightly so, perceived as selfishness.
Upon reflection, however, I realize that our egocentrism started early on in our lives. My generation grew up in a culture where "me" was very important. Our whole childhood was centred on building us up to be the next big shot.
Growing up, my friends and I were chauffeured around to sporting events even though we showed, or at least I showed, little to no athletic talent or ability.
Our mothers often took time off work to make sure we got to basketball practice on time.
Our fathers endured countless bingos and fundraising events so our fundraising quota would be met.
Our parents often (my mother says perpetually) sacrificed aspects of their own lives to ensure their child succeeds, even if their child isn't the next great athlete, millionaire or entrepreneur; good parents want their child to be successful.
Good parents work hard to help their child succeed. For a lot of parents, their child is the centre of the universe. Child-centred philosophy is often seen as imperative in enabling your child's achievement.
Often, my generation has grown up in homes where the people in the home, especially parents, catered to our whims, helped us with homework and generally made us feel great about ourselves - lucky us!
Even though our parents showed us such selfless love; my generation is selfish.
Personally, I think our addiction to egocentrism is bittersweet. I love that in my twenties I changed professions in the name of self-development. I love and I am proud that I have travelled to four continents in the name of finding myself and exploring personal and societal boundaries.
However, I hate that whenever I meet someone new I am generally guarded about my faith. I hate that if I say I go to church, the pews aren't filled up with my peers.
I hate that sometimes to avoid the stigmas associated with Catholicism I am quiet when people mock my Church. I think my selfishness and the selfishness I see in my peers can help explain why my generation is so afraid to say we are Catholic.
You see, Catholicism requires that you think about others before yourself. As Catholics, we are a part of a community but we aren't the centre nor are we the sum of the community.
The Church, unlike many of our parents, and even employers, does not cater to our whim or desires; but rather it forces us to stretch our boundaries and accept that we aren't the centre of the universe and that there is a higher power called God who is the centre of the universe.
For my generation, saying "we are Catholics" instead of saying "we grew up Catholic" means we have to live the faith now and accept that we will be teased, mocked or even excluded from some groups in the name of our faith.
Saying we are Catholics means we have to take action to change the negative stigma about being a Catholic and show our peers that being a 20-something Catholic is a hip and cool thing to be.
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