Dean R. Hoge, William D. Dinges, Mary Johnson, S.N.D. de N., and Juan L. Gonzales, Jr.
Leaders of the American Catholic community want to and need to reach out to young adults. But effective ministry to young adults means that church leaders have to understand the attitudes and the needs of the current generation of Catholics in their 20s and 30s. This is why Dean Hoge, William Dinges, Mary Johnson, and Juan Gonzales began their study of young adult Catholics. How do both European-American and Latino Catholics actually live their Catholicism? Are they alienated from the Church? Are they cynical about the Church’s moral teachings? Do they take the Pope’s statements seriously? Do they attend Mass? Have significant numbers left for other churches? Do they want Catholic education for their children?
Seeking answers to these and other questions, Dean Hoge and his colleagues conducted a national survey in 1997, supplemented by a telephone survey and then by personal interviews with over 800 men and women across the country. The interviews put a human face on the information provided, and they form a compelling part of this timely narrative. The authors underscore observations that include the strength and tenacity of Catholic identity in spite of many challenges, the high level of personal decision-making among those interviewed and surveyed, and the readiness of young Catholics for institutional reforms.
“This thoughtful and timely work will be a handbook for those hungry for data on Catholic young adult life. All who minister to or theologize about this generation should read it carefully. . . . [A] concisely rendered sociological snapshot . . . [the] book concludes with an agenda for understanding and ministering to young adults today that the church cannot afford to ignore. This book is a very important contribution, and the church is in debt to the productive toil of these four researchers.” — National Catholic Reporter
“Roughly 20 million American Catholics are in their 20’s and 30’s—40 percent of the adult Catholic population—and most opinions about them have been based largely on anecdotes and impressions. From now on, those opinions will have to be checked against Young Adult Catholics.” — The New York Times
“The generation now raising children has the job of instilling the interlocking virtues of faith, hope, and charity. For the Church there are some encouraging as well as unsettling words about Catholics of this age group in Young Adult Catholics, which reports on a painstaking study.” — Our Sunday Visitor
“[A]n impressive study of young adult Catholics in America. As well as providing a clear analysis of the results it also provides useful conceptual tools for thinking about questions that affect all our ministries and, in addition, makes helpful suggestions for developing strategies.” — British Jesuits’ Newsletter
“Dean Hoge and his associates have done the American church a great service in the publication of Young Adult Catholics, Religion in the Culture of Choice. It should be read by many, including pastors, whose challenge it is to minister to this less than traditional generation. Each chapter provides insight for pastoral planning and ministry. It demands our thoughtful attention.”— The Priest
“[A]ccessible to a broad readership that may include church-goers as well as all levels of academics and students.”— Choice
“When it comes to generalizing about young people — and who doesn’t generalize about young people, including young people themselves? — most of us fall back on our own personal history or the histories of our siblings, children, nieces, nephews, friends, or students. A book like this provides a statistical reality check. [A] study like this is invaluable.” — Commonweal
“[T]hose who minister to young adult Catholics can pursue … recommendations contained in the study with greater confidence that the validity of these strategies is now supported by solid research rather than ministerial ‘hunches’.” — Catholic Issues
“The book contains a host of additional findings of interest to Catholics and other students of religion. The authors conclude with a set of recommendations for strengthening Catholic commitment and revitalizing parish life.” — Catholic Studies
“Over the last couple of years, a new class of commentators has begun to characterize Generation X…. The most trumpeted of these is the long-awaited sociological study by Dean Hoge and a cluster of his colleagues from across the country. [T]his group of sociologists and other researchers has surveyed a variety of Catholic young adults through personal interviews and on the phone, taking special care to include in their sample appropriate cultural and economic diversity. The results, now published as Young Adult Catholics: Religion in the Culture of Choice provide a lot of good information for us.” — Church Magazine
“In order to minister effectively among young adults, the church needs sound, reliable information about this group. As professional sociologists, the authors recognized the value of marshaling the best modern research methods to better understand the needs, desires and experience of young adult Catholics. The study revealed some fascinating findings, all of which are recounted in the book, not only in narrative form but also in tables, graphs and charts. The book offers an excellent final chapter, which discusses numerous pastoral recommendations for youth ministers and for those who want our Catholic faith tradition to be vibrant to every generation of believers.” — Liturgical Catechesi