The Millennial generation is forging an unprecedented path into adulthood.
Unlike other Americans born before 1980, the generation of 18 to 33 year olds is found to be relatively unattached to organized religion and politics, burdened by debt and in no rush to marry—but optimistic about the future, according to a March report by the Pew Research Center.
Yet like all generations, youth and young adults face the same decisions about what to do with their lives as they pass into adulthood.
Catholic campus ministers and career counselors in Colorado have made it their mission to aid adults in their discernment of job prospects, spiritual life and vocations.
Father Peter Mussett of the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center that serves the University of Colorado at Boulder campus, said they have a four-part approach to helping young adults discover God’s plan for their lives.
“We’re always being attentive first-off to evangelization,” he said.
Part of evangelization is helping others know God and trust in his Church.
“After that we focus on the four areas of formation—similarly as they would at the seminary—which are the human, intellectual, spiritual and apostolic.”
Students may participate in retreats like the Buffalo Awakening, Bible studies or learn about theology of the body. Those who have an interest in religious life or the priesthood are sent to spiritual directors who will guide them or with people who are in states of life they would like to pursue, Father Mussett said.
“We also really try to get people hooked on daily Mass and adoration,” he said.
The underlying goal of all their direction is to help them learn what it means to give.
“We present a lot of opportunities for young people to make a gift of themselves,” he said. “The reality is you cannot find who you are unless you make a sincere gift of yourself.”
Learning how to make a commitment to a path in life and be a total self-gift can be hindered by five common pitfalls, said Father Anthony of the Transfiguration, chaplain for the Colorado School of Mines in Golden.
Living in a dream world, hiding behind short-terms goals, letting failures keep one down and waiting for a sign from God or listening to bad advice are the top derailments for youth, he said.
“What a shame that so many young people Youtube their lives away, caught up in worldly dreams, without confronting and surpassing their real fears to find the real joy of a life-long commitment,” Father Anthony said.
He advises that while graduate degrees, ministries, internships and conferences are worthy and positive goals, they can district youth from discerning.
“How can you even walk a moral life or have time to fall in love without a balanced life and time for the heart?” he continued. “Seek first the life-long commitment, the total self-gift.”
Father Anthony and his community, the Community of the Beatitudes, are penning a book titled “Discerning your Vocation: A Catholic guide for Young Adults,” which will be published this summer.
At Regis University, career counselors provide some 2,800 counseling sessions a year to guide students on choosing their college major and a career path.
Brent Vogel, assistant director of career services, said the career counseling team works to give students all the tools possible to assess and explore their interests and skills.
Counseling usually begins with a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Keirsey Temperament Sorter. From there, counselors will give recommendations on possible careers.
“We’re helping them learn more about themselves and showing them useful resources,” Vogel said.
Students may also need hands-on experience in deciding a career path. Counselors direct students to their experiential learning center to help students find internships or service opportunities in the community.
Their career services are also offered to graduates of any age.
“Our career services department serves students through their entire life,” he said.
Their underlying advice is for students to find what they’re passionate about.
For all young adults, Father Anthony also advises that no matter where life may lead them, to not be afraid.
“Be saints,” he said. “Live your Christian life to the fullest, at 100 percent without waiting for heaven to discover what eternal life means. Trust that the Lord desires your happiness.”