The Final Installment of a Trilogy of Workshops on the Growing Trend of Disaffiliated Youth

The participants of the Br. Luke Salm Religious Educators Workshop – 2017


submitted by Ms. Maryann Donohue-Lynch, Associate Exec. Dir. of the Office for Mission & Ministry

Lasallians from across the Region gathered October 1-3, 2017 for the annual DENA Brother Luke Salm Religious Education Workshop. This year’s Workshop continued the focus of the past two Workshops to complete the trilogy that addressed the growing trend of adolescence and young adults leaving the institutional Church. This year’s Keynote Mr. John Vitek, President and CEO of Saint Mary’s Press, presented the latest findings of a comprehensive study regarding the trends found among youth and young adults as to why they are disaffiliating from the Church.

Keynote Mr. John Vitek, President and CEO of Saint Mary’s Press

Mr. Vitek shared that “The median age of disaffiliation is 13. Young people report beginning to doubt and question their faith as early as fifth grade, and they describe disaffiliation as a process that unfolds over time.”

Mr. Vitek continued, “The top three reasons young people gave for disaffiliating from the Catholic church are 1) they do not believe in God or organized religion, 2) some change in their family or parent’s faith or religious practice changed their affiliation, 3) they changed their affiliation to another religion. Opposition to the Catholic Church and religious institutions in general, and opposition to specific Church teachings was less of a factor in their disaffiliation.

Participants take advantage of the beautiful weather to have group discussions outside.

These “revelations” led to rich conversation on the part of the attendees as to how do we evangelize? How are we teaching the “Good News” and what role does the current ‘Bishop’s curriculum’ play in how we can joyfully and creatively evangelize in our classrooms and in our schools?

Continue to check the DENA website for information regarding follow-up to the 2017 Brother Luke Salm Workshop.

For more photos from the Workshop, click here >

The goals of the Workshop were to:


  1. Learn the trends regarding disaffiliation,
  2. Have an opportunity to network with others in the fields of Theology and Campus Ministers,
  3. Have the opportunity to share resources and
  4. Discuss future plans to advance the conversation regarding evangelization of youth and young adults.


Participants share thoughts, ideas, and best practices.

Reflections from the BLSW participants:

“I was very moved by the results of the study presented by Mr. Vitek. It gave great insight into the faith life of the young people that I teach. I offered me a new ‘window’ to view what I do and how I do it. The times have changed, our need to evangelize youth needs to be done from a posture of pre-evangelization. The days of thinking we can rely upon a sense of basic understanding of the Catholic faith from our freshmen students is over and frankly has been for a while.”

“Listen, listen, listen…we need to listen and accompany. Young people are looking for models of people who joyfully live their faith. Are we them?”

“I was greatly enriched by the opportunity to have conversation with my fellow Lasallian Theology teachers. We had great conversations and sharing of ideas. I do hope it continues!”

“I understand more deeply why the young people at my school love the Campus Ministry program but have such difficulties with their parishes. We listen, we develop programs that attend to their faith needs, clearly for some reasons their parishes don’t.”

“Grateful to have time with other Lasallians who do what I do.”