National Catholic Reporter columnist and scholar Jamie L. Manson to conduct Fairfield University workshop: "The Church and Young Catholics: Is There a Future?"


Fairfield UniversityRecent studies suggest that more than half of twenty-something Catholics in the U.S. never attend Mass. Only 10% consider themselves orthodox.

Jamie L. Manson, a National Catholic Reporter columnist, will examine the challenges that the Church faces in reaching out to new generations of Catholics, in a Fairfield University seminar, on Saturday, April 16, from 9:30 a.m. to noon.

Entitled, "The Church and Young Catholics: Is There a Future?" the event is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the university's Center for Catholic Studies and is part of its Living Theology Workshop series.

"Not only have young adult Catholics lost interest in the church, the traditional symbols of Catholicism no longer seem relevant to them," said Manson, an affiliate faculty member in Fairfield's Religious Studies Department. "As new generations of Catholics becoming increasingly liberal on social concerns such as gender equality and same-sex relationships, the hierarchy only becomes more reactionary on these issues."

Given these challenges, one must ask if there is a viable future for Catholicism in the U.S., said Manson. In the seminar, part of the Center's Living Theology Workshop series, Manson will highlight the spiritual longings of young adults and will consider what elements of Catholicism may still resonate with them. She will also discuss the unique gifts that new generations of Catholics can bring to the life of church.

Manson's weekly column, "Grace on the Margins," appears in the National Catholic Reporter. Her essay on St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona was highlighted by Nicholas Kristof in a New York Times op-ed, "Tussling Over Jesus." "The National Catholic Reporter newspaper put it best," Kristof said of Manson's column about a controversial issue involving the hospital and the local bishop.

Her writing has earned her a first prize Catholic Press Association award for Best Column/Regular Commentary in 2010. A writer based in New York, she is the former editor in chief of the Yale magazine Reflections. As a lay minister, she has worked extensively with New York City's homeless and poor populations. A frequent speaker and retreat leader, she is a regular homilist for the New York City chapter of DignityUSA, and has served on the board of the Women's Ordination Conference.

Manson received her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School where she studied Catholic theology and sexual ethics.

The workshop will take place in the DiMenna-Nyselius Library Multimedia Room, on the Fairfield campus. For directions to campus and more information about the Center for Catholic Studies, visit www.fairfield.edu.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on April 1, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 265