Must-Watch YouTube Channels for College-Aged Catholics!

A little over three years ago, I published a post entitled “Must-Watch YouTube Channels for Catholic Teens”. It has been among my most-viewed blog posts since. So I thought, well, why not make another similar post? In no particular order, I present to you my must-watch YouTube channels for college-aged Catholics!

  1. Father Mike Schmitz! If Father Mike isn’t a household name at your college’s Catholic student center, he should be! Father Mike is the priest at the Catholic Center at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. He speaks at conferences (such as SEEK, a large conference for Catholic college students across the country), and he even has his own podcast. He comes out with a new video every Wednesday through the YouTube channel Ascension Presents. The topics are always super interesting– “Aren’t all churches the same?“, “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts!“, and “Praying in a state of mortal sin,” to name a few.
  2. FOCUS! FOCUS stands for “Fellowship of Catholic University Students.” This organization has a bunch of wonderful videos. I particularly like the videos of the talks from SEEK, the aforementioned yearly national conference of Catholic college students. If you were unable to attend SEEK, you can watch all the talks on this channel! The conference attracts a lot of the classic Catholic speakers (Jason Evert, Father Mike again, Matt Fradd, Leah Darrow, Chris Stefanick, etc.), and in these videos they deliver messages specifically for our age group!
  3. Bishop Robert Barron! I mentioned Bishop Barron in my must-watch YouTube videos post from 2013, except back then he was Father Barron, not Bishop Barron! I was listening to Bishop Barron before he was cool. 😉 Anyway, I’ve long been a fan of how intellectual his videos are. I always learn a lot from him.
  4. Chris Stefanick! Chris Stefanick is another one of the aforementioned “classic Catholic speakers.” I think his speaking may be geared to a slightly younger audience (high school?), but I still find his videos relevant (he has spoken at SEEK before). He’s just a super dynamic speaker, and he has great messages too!

Have I missed your favorite Catholic YouTube channels? Comment below!

Eucharistic Adoration and Reverence

All right guys. I really need to rant about something.

So, I walked into Adoration today at my parish, and the elderly folks were essentially having social hour. Basically, there was an older gentleman talking (using an outdoor voice) to another older gentleman across the church. My first thought was, the priest must not have put the Eucharist in the monstrance yet. So I looked at the altar and was shocked that the Eucharist was already exposed.

C’mon now! The Maker of Heaven and Earth, who died for our sins, is on the altar, and your back is to Him and you’re talking loudly?????? I was appallllllllled by this. There were some other people in the church too, and all but a few seemed to be part of this conversation.

So I kneeled down to pray and assumed things would quiet down. But they didn’t. I mean, after about 5 minutes they did, but in what context is it acceptable to have a loud, non-Jesus-oriented conversation at Adoration while others are trying to pray? If you really want to talk, fine, but go in the vestibule (i.e., lobby type area), or even better, outside.

Okay, so let me try to give them the benefit of the doubt. First thought: maybe they can’t hear well. I would have had more sympathy for them if they were standing right next to each other speaking loudly. But no, they were across the church (approximately 4 yards apart, I’d say). Second thought: maybe they’re talking about serious Jesus-related stuff. Unlikely, based on how unsolemn they were acting and how unhushed their voices were. Third thought: maybe one of them is the one doing all the talking and the rest are just kind of politely listening and wishing he’d stop. But based on how barely anyone else was making an attempt at prayer (ie, they were looking at the guy talking), I think not.

What bugged me most about this situation was that Jesus was not being paid proper reverence.

I have several other secondary concerns with regard to this situation:

First, why does my generation get the bad wrap? My generation is the one branded as irreverent. If a teenager had done what they did, everyone would have been giving them dirty looks and basically would have shunned them out of the Catholic Church. Why is it okay when an older person does it?

Second, sometimes I get the sense that some (though certainly not all) older Catholics think I don’t really belong in their Catholic club. When I walked into Adoration, the group looked at me and then looked away without smiling or anything. (Much later, and older woman came in and gave me a big smile, which I reciprocated – she made me feel like I belonged.) It seems to me that a lot of old Catholics complain about the fact that few young people are involved in the Church…but I don’t feel like we’re wanted by them anyway.

Third, what if someone new to Adoration had walked in when I did? What sort of impression would they have of the Eucharist? Based on the perceived lack of reverence in that church, you would never know that Jesus was up on that altar, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

But onto that subject again: the fact that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist — I would expect the Adoration crowd to know that doctrine. Why the irreverence? If Jesus walked into the church, I would really, really hope that you would stop having a social hour and start having a Holy Hour. Well, guess what? Jesus is really, truly present in the Eucharist; for all intents and purposes, Jesus has walked in.

My best guess is that these people have temporarily forgotten the significance of the Eucharist. We must never, never, never forget that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Catholicism and the Bipartisan System

There are many things about politics that baffle me, but one concept trumps them all: the fact that diverse issues get bundled together, and it’s assumed that if you are in favor (or not in favor) of one of them, then you are in favor (or not in favor) of them all.

Yesterday I took a politics quiz on this website to see which presidential candidates share the most of my beliefs. Granted, as a faithful-to-the-Magesterium Catholic, all of my top results were Republicans. Honestly though, Catholicism doesn’t neatly fit into the Republican mould. There are some issues that Catholicism clearly takes a more Democratic stance on (welfare, helping the poor, immigration). There are other issues that the Church hasn’t really spoken clearly on that a faithful Catholic could go either way on (gun control – I am personally for it; the environment – I am personally for protecting it).

Catholicism is stereotypically Republican. Isn’t that impression? The issues of abortion and gay marriage have given us that reputation. And yes, indeed, we are Republicans on those issues. And truthfully, I usually vote Republican because I consider the issue of abortion so important.

But Catholicism isn’t purely Republican. Our faith existed before the party was created.

In fact, I really don’t like the bipartisan system, tbh. Stances on issues get bundled together. If you say you’re pro-life, people automatically label you as a gun-owning, anti-welfare homophobe.

As was expected, although my top result was a Republican (Marco Rubio), our stances only matched 83%. I mean, that’s pretty good, but 17% is quite a lot of difference. Also interesting is that my top Democratic result (Hillary Clinton) matched 37% of my beliefs. That’s a substantial portion.

Sure, the bipartisan system simplifies the political process, but it also simplifies people and organizations (like the Catholic Church). Truly, most people and organizations, if they’re really thinking, do not fit any one side perfectly. Otherwise, they are basing their stances not on the issues, but on whatever party they identify with.

A Sense of Belonging: College Students and their Parishes

“Everything changes and nothing stands still.”    ~ Heraclitus

Heraclitus was a pre-Socratic philosopher who believed that the central building block of the universe was “flux,” or change. Now, with my Christian worldview, I can’t say that I believe the central thing is this universe is change…but as a college student sometimes it seems that way!

The life of a college student is ever-changing, particularly geographically. Most of the time you’re at school, but then you come home on vacations. Still other times you take weekend trips to conferences somewhere. Or maybe you take an internship away from home during your break. The confusing thing is that I’m not really sure where “home” is anymore. I’d be compelled to say that it is at my family’s home, but now that I’m a rising junior, it seems like home is at my college.

How does living all over the place affect my membership at any one Catholic parish? It’s certainly been an odd situation for me. In high school, I was involved in one parish in my town. That was the place I always went to Mass. Honestly, the community wasn’t and isn’t as vibrant as it should have been, but that’s not the subject of this post. Long story short, I still would have considered it “my parish.”

Now that I’ve been in college for two years, I most certainly consider the Catholic Center at my school to be “my parish.” I’m far more involved in the various ministries of the Catholic Center at my college than I ever was at the parish in my hometown. There is really so little opportunity for young adult involvement at your average family parish. At my college, it is solely students who are ushers, greeters, readers, choir members, officers, etc.

It’s always so weird when I come home and go to Mass at my “old parish.” I feel out of place. I’m not sure whether it’s because I’ve been away for so long or because there are so few people my age hanging around. (i.e., Is the problem in my geographical flux, or is it in the way that family parishes don’t really have much for young adults?)

Yes, indeed, it’s very comforting that Catholicism offers so much consistency across parishes (Mass, Adoration, etc) — my spiritual side is nourished for sure. But when I come back home, I feel myself lacking in fellowship, which is an important aspect of Christianity as well.

In my opinion, there is a great need for family parishes to be aware of the geographical flux college students face. I am well aware that, as a general rule, “parish hopping” is frowned upon by many Catholics because it discourages the formation of a robust community at any one parish. Naturally, it’s not like college students are labeled as parish hoppers. But, in effect, we are parish hoppers, and this makes it hard for us to feel like we fit in at our parishes when we come home from school.

Hopefully I haven’t rambled too much so far…I haven’t planned this out. To summarize my point of the above section: the geographical flux college students face contributes to a lack of identification with their home parish, a problem which parishes should perhaps look at remedying.

The changing location of college students poses another problem for their spiritual development: it makes them less likely stick with their faith. Let’s think of a Catholic college student who isn’t too dedicated to his/her faith. Maybe she goes to Mass regularly with her family while she’s at home, but when she goes to college, it’s just plain-old easier not to go. I see this super often in my role as an officer at my college’s Catholic Center. Another theme I’ve seen: once these people foster Catholic friendships, they come to Mass regularly because their friends are there. (The challenge from here is making sure that the faith is not merely a social thing for them, that it becomes more than just that.)

Or consider the flip side. Maybe someone discovers her faith while at college; perhaps she goes to Mass every week (maybe for social reasons, or hopefully for a deeper reason). Then she gets home and feels out of place at her parish, and so she doesn’t go to Mass while on vacation.

Now for the perfect storm:

Problem (a) is that most college students do not really feel a complete sense of belonging to only one parish. Because we’re church-hoppers by default, we can’t really settle into one fellowship. Problem (b) is that many students are not fully dedicated to their faith.

The result?

Young adult Catholics fall away from the faith. Many are timid to go to a parish where they might feel socially out of place, and the draw of the faith is not yet strong enough to overcome this social anxiety.

And what message do I intend to communicate in the above rambling?

Both college campus ministries and family parishes need to work harder to reach out to the collegiate age group. College campus ministries usually do a great job of building fellowship, but there is more that can be done on the spiritual end. Family parishes offer all the necessary spiritual nourishment, but they lack in fostering fellowship among those in my age group. As a practical suggestion….I think it would be a great idea to have a summer fellowship group for college students at local parishes. I’m sure the parish office still has the email addresses of current college students, saved from their years of taking Confirmation classes. Reach out to those young adults.

Do you know of any cool ways parishes are reaching out to college students home on vacation? Comment below!