With a recent survey indicating that 50 percent of Catholics younger than age 30 have left the Church, Content Editor/Staff Writer Cori Fugere Urban asked young people in the Diocese of Burlington, “What keeps you in the Church?” Their answers are below.

Father Joseph Sanderson, parochial vicar, St. Francis Xavier Parish, Winooski

“[When we] celebrate the Feast Day of the Transfiguration where our Lord is revealed to the disciples. We hear [that] the Father says to them, ‘This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.’ Every time I hear that line, I know that I am a beloved son as well. In Eucharistic adoration — adoring our Lord in the Sacrament of the Eucharist — that is where I feel beloved by God. People ask me, ‘How do you believe in God? Is it true?’ and I tell them I’ve had an encounter with God. He’s real, and He loves me.”

Robbie Bowman, Mater Dei Parish, Newport

“I stay in the Church because I like to give back to my community. I have a lot of friends and family that give me a lot of support, and I feel like I have more good decisions happening throughout my life.”

Avery Marcotte, Most Holy Trinity Parish, Barton

“I am a practicing Catholic because of the peace that I find when going to church. During college it’s a lot of stress and pressure, and the church is a great place to call home and find a community there to engage in my faith life and find God.”

Molly Patenaude, Mater Dei Parish, Newport

“Life gives a lot of adversity, especially for a young person, who is trying to find their place in the world and who they are. It can be very difficult to go through daily life. But the Church gives me hope and a place that I always know I can come back to. And my relationship with Jesus never fails even when the rest of the world might.”

Olivia Genella, Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Wilmington

“Being a part of the Church is important for me because it gives me a community and a place of belonging.  As I am transitioning from adolescence to an adult, I am going through so many changes. But I know the Church will always welcome me and support me through my journey. And I’ll continue to learn things through the Church about myself spiritually and how to become a kinder and better person.”

Mary Ellen Langley, Catholic Center, University of Vermont, Burlington

“I’m still Catholic because this is God’s Church, and Jesus is truly physically present here in the Eucharist. I know that I am a daughter of God, and so I want to stay close to God and His Church, and this is here in the Catholic Church. Jesus has not left me so I do not want to leave Him.”

Mary Guyette, St. Francis Xavier Parish, Winooski

“I continue to practice my faith because I believe that the Catholic Church is the one true Church, instituted by Jesus Christ Himself. And in addition to that, knowing that God freely created man in His image and likeness and sent His only Son to die and rise for our salvation, I can’t not want to place God at the center of my life and reciprocate His love and seek to glorify Him in all that I do.”

Jim Davey, Catholic Center, University of Vermont, Burlington

“I got back into my Catholic faith because a FOCUS missionary at my campus reached out to me and invested in me and brought me back into practicing my faith. I continue to be Catholic because it’s the Church that Jesus founded — no one else — and He promised that the gates of hell would never overcome it. So, if I trust Jesus, I have to trust the Catholic Church. So I’m here for Jesus.”

—Originally published in the Fall 2019 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.