I’m speaking today at the Diocese of Buffalo’s Millennial Milestones conference, an all-out effort to appeal to the needs of the young adults of the diocese. Rumor has it that there’s a big crowd coming–so pray for me today. If I bomb these, folks know where I live!
Seriously, Buffalo is a struggling city and lots of young people have been moving out of Buffalo in recent years. So the diocese is hoping to do lots with the young people who are here and choosing to stay in the city.
Most especially, we need to pay attention to our University Communities. At UB alone there are about 13,000 Catholics on both the North and South Campus. Canisius College, a fine Jesuit institution, Buff State, D’Youville, and Daemon College are also in town–so we have no dearth of University students.
Many people did great ministry to Gen Xers, focusing on community, social justice and perhaps even not focusing as much on items like catechesis or devotions. Today as the millennials come to us with a different set of religious longings, we perhaps need a different approach. Community and Social Justice are still important but tradition, devotion, and a knowledge of what the church stands for is also important as well. We need (and perhaps we always did, but there may not have been signs of this as an obvious longing at the time) a mix of contemplation and community. Extroversion and introversion, are balanced a bit more today, if you will. The world has turned even further towards the self and we as people of faith need to accept people where they are but also, turn them towards relationship with a wider world that takes them beyond their own self-centered concerns.
So today, pray for Buffalo, for their leaders and for the diocese. Pray for our Bishop, Edward Kmiec and his staff, especially Greg Coogan who has put much of this day together. May we inspire the lives of young people and bring them into a closer relationship with Jesus. Amen.