Listening and learning from stories of departure from the catholic church 

An Ongoing Catholic Disaffilition Research Project

Xaverian Missionaries USA

Featured in the Synod Resources of the Holy See



Ellen Koneck Keynote Lecture – Catholic Common Ground Initiative -The Context and Concerns of Young Catholics

Ellen Koneck’s lecture begins at 30:40 if you wish to fast-forward directly to her. 

Download the full transcript of her remarks here

The Final Report is Available 

Listening to Those who Left the Church for the Synod 2021-2024

We are pleased to make available the final report of those who left Catholic Church practice and shared their stories of departure for the Synod of the Church.  We are grateful for their candor and willingness to share themselves for the lessons they teach, particularly for the church in this time of synodality.

We sent this report to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Synod of Bishops Office at the Vatican. Please feel free to share it with others.


Download Report

St. Mary’s Press published a fascinating study on the disaffiliation of young Catholics, entitled Going, Going, Gone, which you can find on this website under About Catholic Disaffiliation. They ask some thoughtful questions: What makes people leave the church? What’s going on in society at large that contributes to this? What can we learn from church departures? These are good questions to ask ourselves as we read and listen to departure narratives.

They also offer an image I find helpful: maps! What maps do we rely on to understand the landscape we share faith in? Do they reflect an environment that I no longer recognize? When were the last time we interrogated these maps and the assumptions behind them? 

The Catholic Dissafiliation Project is not about finding the silver bullet or the special program that brings people back. For the most part, they are not coming back. But, we can update our old maps of the religious landscape around us for those still with us, living on the periphery of our parishes, and for future generations. How do we do this?

=First, we listen to those who left the church and sacramental practice lovingly and empathetically. 
=Second, we root ourselves in these departure narratives, learning about their world and how they walk in it.
=Third, look at the studies and what reflects your situation in particular. Disaffiliated Catholics are a very diverse group.
=Fourth, by gaining deeper insight into the needs, longings, and desires of young people and others, and in dialogue with our tradition, we can change our maps and parish cultures.

Fr. Carl Chudy, D.Min.

Postsecular Catholicism; A New Understanding and Pastoral Praxis in Catholic Families with Disaffiliated Children in the Archdiocese of Boston

I begin by presenting my own research on Catholic families whose children eventually left the church and sacramental practice. This research suggests a renewed understanding of Catholic disaffiliation as a significant theological and social experience of Catholic families. Pick and choose what parts are of interest to you. I would suggest especially parts two, three and four.  Other studies are included on the page,  ABOUT CATHOLIC DISAFFILIATION.


We are Seeking More Conversations Concerning Church Departures 

Multi-Generational Catholics, Multiple Views of Faith, Meaning, and Belonging

In Catholic families, many studies have pointed to different ways multiple generations understand the Catholic faith, what it means to them, and what belonging may look like. These differences, practical experiences in the parish, and the larger cultural realities all speak of Catholic Disaffiliation, which often begins in the family.

We began this study by interviewing more than seventy people. Some were parents and grandparents whose children decided not to continue. Other family members who were raised Catholic and chose not to continue church practice are also part of this study.

We are continuing the opportunity to give space to those who would like to share their story with us. We want to listen to your experiences of faith and church and what it can teach us as we learn how to navigate the changing religious landscape we all live in.

Contact us if you would like to set up an appointment for an interview. We would love to hear from you.

Contact us for more information.











Together with Catholic families, pastoral leaders and teachers also accompany our young people who experience substantial doubts about their place in the Church and many questions about its teaching and relevancy for their own lives. Would you share with us your own experience of Catholic Disaffiliation with those you minister with? Your insights, experiences, and questions would be essential for this study. 

Contact us for a conversation.


Can the Church give a new voice to its firmly embedded commitment to the common good? And can it forge new directions in language, doctrinal thinking, and institutional practices that find greater resonance with the lived experiences of increasingly secularized Catholics?

Dr. Michele Dillon – University of New Hampshire

Disaffiliated Catholics are not a problem to solve but a grace to the Church. They are telling us something about ourselves. What if the disaffiliated is one of the ways the Spirit operates in and beyond the Church? What then is She telling the faith community through the experience of leaving the Church?

Dr. Bob McCarty -Going, Going, Gone Study



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