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Young and Catholic: The Face of Tomorrow's Church
by Tim Drake
Sophia Institute Press, September 2004, paperback

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Hope for the New Springtime

A Catholic Author Interview with Tim Drake, Young and Catholic: The Face of Tomorrow's Church

by Lisa M. Hendey

Author Tim Drake gives readers reason for great optimism with his latest, Young and Catholic: The Face of Tomorrow's Church  (Sophia Institute Press, September 2004, paperback).  Serving as writer for countless Catholic periodicals has given this convert to the faith an excellent vantage point from which to seek out instances of devotion in today’s younger generation.  This wonderful book provides an up close look at how younger Catholics are responding the Holy Father, John Paul II’s call to be “the Hope of the Church”.  Drake shares numerous instances of young men and women leading lives of profound service and dedication to the Church.  An increase in vocations, new and creative means of evangelization, and use of the Internet to deepen and spread the faith are just a few of the examples Drake cites.  Readers will be encouraged by these first person accounts and inspired by the role models they meet in the pages of the book.  Perhaps most importantly, they will likely be prompted by Drake’s positive, infectious enthusiasm and by promptings of the Holy Spirit to join these young, future leaders in embracing and truly living the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Tim Drake shared the following about Young and Catholic and the future of the Catholic Church.

Q:  Tim Drake, author of Young and Catholic: The Face of Tomorrow's Church  thank you for your time and for participating in this Catholic Book Spotlight interview.  Please tell us a bit about yourself and your family.

A: Thanks for asking. I was born and have lived in Minnesota for my entire life. I’m a Lutheran convert to the Catholic faith. I entered the Church in March, 1995. I serve as staff writer with the National Catholic Register and Faith and Family Magazine. I am also the author of three books and have contributed to half a dozen others.

I’ve been married for 15 years to my lovely wife, Mary. We met in college and were married shortly after graduating from the University of Minnesota. I often tell her that her vocation as a wife, mother and educator makes my avocation as a Catholic journalist and author possible. We have five children ages 2 to 8, and we home educate our three eldest children.

Q:  I’ve been a fan of your writing and have enjoyed your previous books and the talent you share at the National Catholic Register and Faith and Family Magazine.  What prompted you to take on this latest project?  What message do you hope to share with Young and Catholic?

My family and I try to attend daily Mass. Over the years I have noticed the absence of young people not only at daily Mass, but also at the Sunday Liturgy. That raised a question in my mind – “Where are the young people?”

I knew that they weren’t entirely absent from the faith. In 2002, I had the privilege of attending World Youth Day in Toronto. I covered it as a correspondent with the National Catholic Register, but also participated in it as a pilgrim. I was extremely touched by the dialogue between the youth and the Holy Father at World Youth Day and my eyes were opened to the ways in which young people are active in the Church.

Not long after, Sophia Institute Press approached me with the idea for a book taking a look at young Catholics. My previous experiences were perfect grist, so I began the research. In the end, I spoke to more than 300 youth from across the U.S. and elsewhere.

The message I hope to share is one of tremendous hope. It’s easy to think that the youth aren’t involved simply because they aren’t sitting with us in the pew. What I discovered is that they are active in other ways. They often attend youth Masses on Saturday and Sunday evening. They are active online. They are involved in missionary programs both here at home and abroad. They are active in exciting programs on Catholic and secular college campuses, and they are involved in young adult discussion and faith sharing groups across the country.

Q:  It’s exciting to read so many portraits of the vibrancy of the faith in today’s youth!  Do you have any favorite stories from the book?

One of my favorites is the story of then-high school students Tiffany Pullis and Mary Jansen. They gave up their summer vacation to organize a parish-based Vacation Bible School program – the first that the Church of St. Anthony’s had ever held. The story is a favorite because my three eldest children were involved in the VBS program and I could see how they were touched by it.

The beginning of the book is filled with selfless examples of efforts such as these – young people on fire for their faith, sharing it with others.

I also enjoyed the stories of the countless men and women who the Holy Spirit has connected using modern-day technology. The chapter “The Faith Online” gives the portrait of one woman who thought she would never marry. On a whim, she used an online Catholic dating service, and in the end found not only her best friend, but her spouse. The fact that young Catholics are meeting online, and starting families of their own is a remarkable example of how the Holy Spirit can work in people’s lives.

Q:  During the election cycle, we heard quite a lot about the power of the “new media”.  I know that you devote a chapter of the book to the impact of the Internet and blogs on the Faith.  Could you say a few words about how our Catholic Church is being impacted by the Internet?

If television was the medium of choice for the previous generation, the Internet is the medium of choice for Generation X and Y. Their life is wired. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week they can be reached through email, their Palm Pilots, web logs, and cell phones. As a result, young Catholics are using the Internet to evangelize and meet other Catholics. At home, in their parish, they may feel isolated – as if they are just one young Catholic. Online, they discover that they are not alone, but that there are many others like them elsewhere.

Online, youth and young adults are discovering the true meaning of the word “Catholic.” Our Church is universal. It’s a Church without borders.

Q:  What influences have caused this spiritual renewal, particularly among younger generations?

Time and time again, in talking with youth, they told me about the impact that rampant divorce, constant change, and the sexual revolution has had on their generation. Even by their existence, they are in some ways, a sign of contradiction. One-third of their generation has been legally destroyed in the womb.

This generation carries that angst within them. Bombarded by the media messages of consumerism and materialism, they are searching for the Truth. The great British journalist and writer G.K. Chesterton used to say that, “A dead thing goes with the stream; only a living thing can go against it.” That is what I see the young doing. They are alive and they are going against the stream.

In many ways, their generation is trying to overcome the mistakes of the previous generation. They are doing this by embracing the counter-cultural messages of abstinence, holiness, and purity.

The Holy Father, in preparation for World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne, has called the youth the “Magi of the Third Millennium.” This is a very apt description. The young are searching for the Truth, and very often finding it through such movements in the Catholic Church.

Q:  What can Catholic parents do to light a fire in the hearts and souls of their own families?

Many of the youth in the book have come from broken families. They have embraced the Church sometimes in spite of their history. The best thing that Catholic parents can do for their children is to love God and love one another. By living lives of holiness, attending Mass, availing themselves of the Sacraments, and praying together as a family, parents can serve as examples of “salt and light.” Time and time again, in the lives of the saints, we can see that holy children have come from holy parents. If we are models of holiness for our children, we too can bring about saints for the future.

Q:  Please say a few words about the role our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II has played in inspiring this wonderful “springtime of faith”.

The Holy Father has spoken, since the beginning of his pontificate, of the New Springtime. It’s ironic that the most effective youth minister in the world hasn’t been a college graduate. It’s been an 84-year-old man. There can be no denying the impact of Pope John Paul II upon the youth. They are initially drawn by his travels and media appearances, only later to discover the wisdom of his words and his writing, which always point to the Gospels.

It is safe to say that the seeds of the New Springtime have been sown. The movements I draw from in my book demonstrate that those seeds have begun to sprout. If they continue to grow, I have great hope for the future of the Church.

Q:  Tim Drake, thanks again for your time and for sharing the gift of your writing and this encouraging book Young and Catholic: The Face of Tomorrow's ChurchWhat are your hopes for the future of our Church?

Christ told us to spread the “Good News,” not the bad. That’s what my book is all about. Spreading bad news is like seeing the Church as half-empty rather than half-full. It’s hard to read this book and not come away hopeful. There are so many movements taking place among young people that they can’t help but enrich the Church. This is not to say that we won’t have our struggles. Many in the book remark that they feel that the Church of the future might be a smaller, but stronger Church. That is very possible.

We must remember, as Paul states in his letter to the Corinthians, that there is “faith, hope, and love.” This book provides examples of all three. As such, I have tremendous hope about youth who are knowledgeable about their faith, about our young seminarians and religious, and about graduates from authentically Catholic colleges and universities bringing the Truth of the Church to bear in their work and in their lives. They will not only change the future of the Church, but are changing it today.

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