The Catholic Church in Nigeria is experiencing a massive exodus towards other faith communities.
Denominations that describe themselves as “new generational,” which have a particular focus on youth, innovation and technology, have sprung up everywhere and they are luring people away from the Church.
It is now a common sight in Nigeria to see Catholics attending ‘special services’ in Pentecostal churches in search of miracles. Therefore, i am poised to ask: What will the next generation of young Catholics be like? Will they have a strong sense of their Catholic identity?
THE YOUNG CATHOLIC TODAY
Currently, a lot of young Catholics find it difficult to give a lucid account of their faith. Many are clueless when asked by their Protestant colleagues why they bless themselves with Holy water, pray to the saints or pray to Mary.
Some do not know the histories of most contemporary saints. A considerable number do not know how to pray the Rosary. Some, since after their catechism classes for first Holy Communion have never been to any Catholic education programs.
And a growing number of Catholic students choose to straddle Catholicism and Pentecostalism. That is, most Catholic students attend Holy Mass while at home with their parents but are involved with Pentecostal movements in their various institutions.
The Diminishing Sense of some Specific Aspects of Catholicism
Traditional Catholic prayers follow a fixed text and rubrics and with the formula: “in the name of the Father, and of the son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Regrettably, many young Catholics have acquired the eccentric practice of starting prayers in public worship especially during prayer of the faithful at the Holy Mass with such formulas: ‘In Jesus name we pray’, ‘in the mighty name of Jesus’.
Nowadays, many young Catholics are becoming lukewarm in the reception of the Holy Eucharist. There are many young Catholics who have been baptized in the Church and who have never received the Eucharist.
A good number of them attend the Holy Mass but do not care to receive the Holy Communion.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation
Most young Catholics are having the conviction that it is wrong to confess to a priest. And a good number scorn the traditional penitential activities of the church such as the sacrament of confession.
They prefer the Pentecostal pattern of ‘dry fasting,’ night vigil, or other forms of bodily mortification and penitence.
The Catholic Church has a collection of songs ordered in different volumes of hymnals for different seasons of the liturgical year.
Regrettably, the musical culture of the Pentecostals and their loudness seems to cast enormous influence on most young Catholics today that they no longer want to identify with the musical tradition of the Church.
Some prefer the Pentecostal choruses, by way of clapping, jumping, shouting and rotating while singing during the Holy Mass.
many young Catholics are not grounded in the faith. The most fundamental challenge facing Catholicism in Nigeria is theological Illiteracy or ignorance. There is need in this contemporary era to structure a new set of ways of helping people understand what the Church teaches through catechesis.
Ohanele Stephen U.
Seat of Wisdom Seminary, Owerri