FINDING FAITH IN IRELAND
"THE SHIFTING SIPIRITUAL LANDSCAPE OF IRISH TEENS AND YOUNG ADULTS"
Ireland is globally recognised for its long history of Christianity. There is debate over when people in Ireland first became Christian in large numbers, but most sources agree that Christianity had made inroads by the early 5th century AD, during the lifetime of Augustine of Hippo. Over the centuries, Ireland’s religious reputation was further formed by its monasteries, missionaries and Roman Catholicism. The Republic of Ireland emerged during the 20th century as one of the most Catholic countries in Western Europe.
Religion in Ireland is changing, however, as a global shift toward secularism gradually and inevitably makes an imprint on a population where Christianity has long been the dominant religion. One example: “Regular mass attendance has fallen signicantly since the early 1980s, when some parishes recorded rates of up to 90 percent,” reports The Irish Times. “In some of the poorest areas of Dublin, it has fallen as low as 2 percent, while in more middle-class areas it is between 30 and 40 percent.” Barna has observed similar phenomena in studies conducted on primary faith segments in England and Scotland: While many remain very and sincerely engaged with the majority religion, others maintain it merely as a social or nominal faith—meaning, in the context of Ireland, a large body of Irish Christians are Catholic in name only.
In the midst of these changes is a young generation that is anxious and searching. This report, based on qualitative and quantitative studies conducted in partnership with Christ in Youth, examines young people in the Republic of Ireland between 14 and 25 years old, with a specific emphasis on their faith, worries and perceptions of Christianity.
" We want this research to be a gift and a catalyst to the local Church across Ireland. A gift in terms of hearing what young people actually think and feel about their faith and culture. A catalyst to stir and shake us all into action to better serve and minister to young people today in Ireland. "
-Jasper Rutherford, European Director, Christ In Youth
" I can think of nothing more powerful in working with youth in Ireland than research that tells me what their fears are; what their experience of faith and church is; and how I and all of us in ministry and families across Ireland can walk with them in Christ. This is exactly what the Finding Faith in Ireland report tells me, and I thank CIY for it. "
-Peter Rigney, Director of Alpha Ireland
" This unique and timely research is essential and compelling reading for everyone concerned and engaged with the Christian faith formation of young people in Ireland today. The findings of this research are a 'wake up call' and compel us with ever more urgency to collaboratively commit and invest all our resources and energies to meet the great spiritual needs of this generation of Irish Youth. "
-Jim Donan, Director of Scripture Union Ireland
" How refreshing and challenging to see recent data from young people in Ireland about their faith and culture. I recommend the perusal of this document as a sober reflection on the concerns of young people and their attitudes to faith in modern Ireland. "
-Bishop Pat Storey, Bishop of Meath and Kildare
" What CIY and Barna have done with “Finding Faith in Ireland” is issue a full, honest, and at times raw understanding of the current state of play of faith in our nation. How we respond to these new discoveries will have the potential to define and shape our faith communities in the present and into the future."
-Greg Frombolz, Director of Young Adults Ministry, Church of Ireland: Dublin and Glendalough
" It is timely that this survey has revealed the real gap in beliefs and practice in all of Ireland. From my experience over the years people have been asking the question will young people come back to faith or Church. This might be the wrong question. This survey is very clear in that many young people neither feel part of Church or have an active role in their faith. The challenge for anyone with a heart for the Gospel is to create what Pope Francis has called “encounters with Jesus Christ.” All leaders of faith need to go to the “peripheries” to bring the Gospel into parts of youth culture that have never heard the Gospel proclaimed. We need to rise to the new challenge of connecting the unconnected. "
-Gerard Gallagher, Office for Evangelisation & Ecumenism
" I found this research insightful, deeply challenging and, at times, profoundly sad. It is however also shot through with hope, not least in the pointers it provides as to the ways ahead."
-Rev. Heather Morris, Former President of Methodist Church in Ireland
" Making, forming and sending disciples of Christ is the only purpose of the Church. This is a very helpful piece of research as it helps us understand more clearly where young people are in their relationship to faith and church. If we want to make new disciples, like Jesus we have to meet people where they are. I hope that these insights will help us all bring Good News to a new generation."
-Bishop Dónal McKeown, Bishop of Derry