"Big Four" Highlights


Help Your Child RETURN

New program gives parents tools and talking points for fallen-away kids

Has your son or daughter left the Catholic Church? No longer goes to Mass, and doesn’t want to talk about religion?

With families gathering at Thanksgiving and Christmas, you may want to consider what to say (or not say) when you sit down with your child for the holidays.

There’s a new program designed to help bring your child back into the fold. Called RETURN, it is designed by a millennial convert to the Catholic faith, Brandon Vogt. He has plenty of experience with being outside the faith and knows some of the keys that will draw young people closer to Christ and his Church.

Vogt, 29, is Content Director for Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, which is directed by Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles, whom you may know from his popular Catholicism series that was a TV hit.

Married for seven years, and with five children (one to be born in April), Vogt took a few minutes to answer questions from Fathers for Good.

Fathers for Good: What is the goal of this new RETURN program?

Brandon Vogt: The goal is simple: to give parents the tools and strategies they need to draw their children back to the Church.

FFG: What motivated you to begin this program?

Vogt: The project emerged from two places. First was my experience, over the last several years speaking at Catholic events around the country. Each event typically closes with a Q&A session and, inevitably, the most common question I’ve heard is some version of, “My son/daughter has left the faith and I’m devastated. What should I do?” I’ve heard this hundreds of times, and other Catholic speaker friends confirm the same thing; it’s the most deeply felt problem among Catholic adults.

Then there was the release of the latest Pew Religious Landscape survey. Every seven years, the Pew Research Center surveys over 30,000 American adults to check the religious pulse of our country. The 2014 survey data was published in May 2015, and although the results were dire for most Christian traditions, they were especially disheartening for Catholics. Three statistics stood out:

  • 50% of young people raised in the Church no longer identify as Catholic today
  • 79% who leave the Church leave before age 23
  • 6.45 people leave the Catholic Church, on average, for every one that joins

Think about what that means. Over the last 20-30 years, half of the babies you’ve seen baptized, half of the children you’ve seen confirmed, and half of the couples you’ve seen married in the Church are gone—they’re no longer Catholic. Worse, for every person who enters the front door of your parish, six to seven persons are leaving through the back.

This is an epidemic. The Catholic Church is hemorrhaging young people. That’s why Bishop Robert Barron says, “The most significant challenge facing the Catholic Church today is the attrition of our own people.”

We haven’t done nearly enough to resolve this problem. We have lots of books and programs on keeping our kids Catholic or raising good Catholic children—and obviously these are needed—but we don’t have much for parents after their children have already drifted away. That’s why I created RETURN.

FFG: How do people get involved?

Vogt: RETURN is a collection of resources to help parents draw their children back to the Church. It emerged from my own experience working with parents and young people over the years, and is packed with proven, practical advice. The resources include:

  • RETURN Video Course: 16 professionally-filmed video lessons with over 220 minutes of HD content. This reveals a complete game plan for drawing your child back.
  • RETURN paperback book: Companion guide to the Video Course which builds on its content and features a Foreword by Bishop Robert Barron.
  • RETURN Master Series: Video interviews with 10 Catholic leaders who are experts at helping people come back to the Church, including Dr. Scott Hahn, Jennifer Fulwiler, Father Michael Schmitz, and many more.
  • RETURN Seed Gifts - The 12 most effective DVDs, books, and CDs to give your fallen-away child, including Bishop Barron’s Catholicism series, booklets from Catholic Answers, and books by Peter Kreeft, Matthew Kelly, and more.
  • RETURN Private Community: An exclusive, online community where parents can join hundreds of others to find encouragement and support as they draw their children back.

FFG: With families gathering at Thanksgiving and Christmas, what's the best thing parents can do to help their grown kids return to Church?

Vogt: During the holidays, it's always best not to push too hard when it comes to religion. Take a more gentle and congenial approach. One way to do this is to ask questions.

For example, perhaps you say, "Hey, I'm not sure we've talked about Pope Francis yet. When he came to America he was the talk of every news show and magazine. What do you think about him?"

Then listen carefully. Find out what your child likes about Pope Francis because those could be clues as to what he doesn't like about the Catholic Church. For instance, if he admires how compassionate the pope is, especially to the poor and marginalized, chances are he never experienced that in the Catholic Church. Use the Pope as a gateway to determine your child's most significant resistances to the Church. That's the first step to drawing them back.

Visit ReturnGamePlan.com for more information.