Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Millennials want to bring faith openly into their workplaces

By ARCHBISHOP WILTON D. GREGORY, Commentary | Published March 20, 2014  | En Español

I probably should have realized that I was entering a new environment when I arrived and was soon greeted by a participant who enthusiastically told me about the new Christ the King app and then immediately downloaded it for me on my iPhone. The world of young adults, many of whom are often referred to as millennials, has been dominated from their infancy by the technology that many of my fellow baby boomers always seem to be rushing to catch up with. Several months ago, I had accepted a very kind invitation from the CTK Believers. This is a group of young business professionals who meet on the second Tuesday of each month for a speaker’s series of reflections on bringing faith into their business work-a-day world. I was flattered to have been invited to offer a presentation about the challenges that I face in being shepherd and CEO for the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

I was impressed with the energy, the joy, and the quality of discussion that was packed into the one-hour time-frame conference. We have some extraordinarily wonderful young adults who are quite serious about their faith and eager to bring it with them openly into the workplaces of their lives. They are single, married and engaged young folks of exceptional talent and generosity of soul.

They represent a critically important class of our people that we simply must serve and engage more effectively. They are currently beginning or soon will be beginning families who are the Church’s tomorrow. They certainly want to pass on the faith of the Church to the next generation.

We must listen to them, and we must learn from them—as I did that morning. They spoke about their desire to be people of faith in a secular environment that not only often rejects traditional religious beliefs as anachronisms from an age long since closed, but even a barrier to progress.

These young people don’t consider themselves to be “spiritual but not religious.” CTK Believers is an ecumenical gathering so that participants interact with other young adults whose faith life is also important to them as they share the same challenges as do their Catholic friends because of their strongly held religious faith.

These young adults respect, enjoy and admire their colleagues at their places of employment, and they do not wish to be perceived as overly aggressive, but they do want to be recognized as people who have and live their religious convictions. It is a delicate balance and much of the table conversation revolved around how these young people can identify themselves as believers in an often hostile if not fundamentally indifferent environment.

This is the obvious challenge of evangelization in our age. Our society would like to relegate religious faith, practices and influence strictly to the private dimensions of our lives—“Believe what you want, but keep it to yourself.”

We Americans generally do not live in an age of public martyrdom so much as an environment of public indifference to religious practice. And creeping into our culture is the progressive dismantling of longstanding accommodations for religious customs and practices. Therefore, I was delighted to meet these young adults who are serious about their faith and unwilling to remain silent in the public arena.

We clergy and religious cannot possibly achieve what they can in the marketplaces where they work. The most important thing that we can do for them is to encourage them in their resolve to be strong people of faith in a highly secular world. I was glad to do so last week, and I invite all of us to pray for their success and ultimate triumph!