Monthly Message from Fr. Timothy - October 2019 - Focus on Youth
"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)
Years ago, His Eminence Metropolitan +PHILIP designated October as a time to focus on the youth of the Church by celebrating their accomplishments and encouraging them to take up an active role in building up the community of believers.
Much has been said lately about the absence of young adults from parish life. We wrote about this last month, and we are continuing to analyze this phenomenon while making efforts to stem this tide here at St. George. We know this trend is not specific to our parish. Fortunately, there are many professional sources available to help us put youth ministry into perspective. One very encouraging report that should interest all parents indicates that children brought up in a religious environment experience a higher rate of happiness and fulfillment as young adults than those who are not.
According to a Harvard University study, children who attended church at least once a week while they were growing up reported having better lives in their 20s than those who didn't. This study followed children in their early teens over a 14 year period. The sampling size was significant and ranged between 5,700 and 7,500 people.
The researchers were trying to find out if "religious involvement" as a child that included church attendance, prayer and meditation had any impact on a person's physical, emotional and mental well-being later in life. The results published in the ‘American Journal of Epidemiology’ showed the positive influences that faith has on children, years later.
The study found that children who attended church at least once a week reported in their 20s as being;
- 18% happier than those who did not.
- 30% more likely to do volunteer work than those who did not.
- 33% less likely to use drugs than those who did not attend church.
They also found that children who voluntarily participated in prayer and meditation growing up, also showed better results in their 20s than those who didn't in following areas:
- They were less likely to have sexually transmitted diseases and participate in early sex than those who did not.
- They were more forgiving than those who did not attend church.
- They showed more emotional stability than those who did not participate.
- They reported having greater life satisfaction than those who didn't.
Watching children grow up and enter their own independent journey can be a tough time for parents. It seems as this study shows that bringing our children to church does help them experience more fulfilling lives than not bringing them.
Allowing our children to grow in the 'sacred space' we created and experience the 'sacred time' we set aside can help them find their place in the story that nourishes and comforts all of us throughout our lives. We must always pray for and believe in them. October is, in a particular way, their month – let us celebrate them together.
Blessings, Fr +Timothy