Faces in the Crowd

Multimedia reports on World Youth Day from Sydney, Australia

An on the spot report to start:

A consistent theme I’m finding among young adults here—and one that’s also been heralded by many members of the clergy here at World Youth Day—is the struggle of being embarrassed of being Catholic.  In secular society, religion is often a taboo subject, relegated to “a private matter” for most people. In other segments of the world, religion is a nuisance, at best, or a complete farce—something that is overly restrictive, or a fantasy that one tells themselves out of comfort. At World Youth Day those pressures simply disappear.

Below are interviews with some young adults who talk very openly about their struggles with being Catholic here in Australia.  As the week goes on, we’ll talk with people from other countries about their experience of faith—how do they pray?  Where do they most feel God’s presence in their lives?  Where do they struggle?  What big questions are they asking today and how are they navigating the secular world they live in with their faith and what role has their family and heritage played in that?

Spending some time with these young adults today made me see that they are very typical young adults who have had some influence by the practice of their families faith and while some seem to be going to church for the sake of their families, many have found great meaning in their spiritual lives. Some clearly struggle with regular practice, while others find that even being a typical college student who hangs out in pubs on the weekend but longs to have a deeper connection with the divine, but finds it difficult to fit into the normal church structures.

Tomorrow: The Pope arrives.

Mike Hayes

Mike co-founded BustedHalo.com in 2001. Currently, Mike is the director of campus ministry at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. A frequent speaker on ministering to young adults, Mike is the author of "Googling God: The Religious Landscape of People in Their 20s and 30s" and "Loving Work: A Spiritual Guide to Finding the Work We Love and Bringing Love to the Work We Do."