Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Sunday, 12 May 2024
‘Spiritual restlessness’ drives people to join the Catholic Church
Many said "something was missing" from their previous faith practice.

Bess Twiston Davies/ :

Research from the Diocese of East Anglia has revealed that “spiritual restlessness” is driving adults to join the Catholic Church.


Why Adults Become Catholics, a study from the diocesan Commission for the New Evangelization found this “restlessness” to be “specifically spiritual” rather than participants having a sense of “general unease with their lives”.


The 10 adult converts interviewed for the study included one former atheist-turned-Buddhist, two ex-agnostics and others who had previously been non-practising Catholics, Mormons, Pentecostal Christians or Protestants. Many said “something was missing” in reference to their previous faith practice.


Joining the Church proved for all the end of a “protracted" and “self-initiated” spiritual journey.


The findings reflect a recent upsurge in numbers joining the church.


Nearly 1,000 people became Catholics this Easter in the Archdiocese of Southwark and Diocese of Westminster while on Good Friday; Westminster Cathedral had to turn worshippers away after reaching its 3,000-seat capacity.


In the Diocese of East Anglia, 65 people on average join the Church every year. Bishop Peter Collins wrote to every parish priest in East Anglia to find participants for the qualitative research study.


Five of those who took part were men and five, women. The youngest was 23, the oldest, 61 while the average age was 45 years old. All joined the Church in the past five years.


During hour-long interviews, each revealed that their conversion – although they never used that term – had been an “incremental” process.


This typically included “working through” key Catholic beliefs regarding Mary and Purgatory while deciding to attend Mass proved a key moment. Many had discovered a sense of “reverence” in the Catholic Church particularly during Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. One participant observed of their journey into the Church, “Intellectual drivers might take you there, but the spiritual and emotional connection keeps you there.”


All interviewees came from seven East Anglian parishes and all but one took the parish RCIA course. “For most it helped to cement and further develop their previous self-directed exploration of Catholicism,” said researchers.


Also key was the role social media played in adults’ journeys to Catholicism.


“YouTube videos appeared not to be sought primarily for inspiration and encouragement, but rather for their information and instructional value,” said researchers.


The results of the study suggested: “The evangelization potential of social media, particularly prominent Catholic YouTube channel hosts, cannot be under-estimated.”


Researchers also warned that the “accessibility of social media content providers carries the risk of distorted information and social media company algorithms cannot be relied upon as consistently safe sources”.