Going, Going, Gone is the unprecedented report on why young people leave the Catholic Church based on the comprehensive national study conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown and Saint Mary’s Press. This report uniquely details the many and varied reasons for disaffiliation by telling young people’s stories in “their own words.”
This report goes beyond the statistical data to reveal the textured, nuanced personal narratives and the in-depth analysis of the “storied” data. The study surveyed and interviewed youth and young adults, ages 15-25, who once self-identified as Catholic and no longer self-identify as Catholic. The terms “disaffiliated” or "the religious nones" are used to describe this population that for various reasons no longer consider themselves Catholic.
The study reveals that disaffiliation from the Church is largely a thoughtful, conscious, intentional choice made by young people in a secularized society where faith and religious practice are seen as one option among many. It’s a process that unfolds over time. Many disaffiliated youth and young adults report feeling “free” and “relieved” when they decide to no longer identify as Catholic. Family dynamics frequently play a role in disaffiliation. Still others who disaffiliate perceive that they can be happy and live good, moral lives without the burden or baggage of religious affiliation.
The report provides a set of implications for pastoral ministry with young people. A list of critical questions for pastoral ministers and educators is proposed to help generate and lead robust conversation in light of the research findings.