A study on religion in the US came out last month that found that the number of those claiming no religious affiliation have grown to over 16%, to a point where, for the first time in our history, those claiming Protestant affiliation make up less than 50% of the population.
I imagine that part of this is due to the fluid nature of commitments in our culture. As I blessed the new statue of St. Peter, I thought of how fitting and important he is for us Catholics and specifically for the Catholic Center here. While our society and culture becomes increasingly about personal choice and a lifetime commitment to a church becomes less attractive, as Catholics, our faith in Jesus comes in and through our community of the church which we believe He founded. St. Peter, as the head of the apostles, symbolizes the concrete unity that Jesus wanted for His church. He entrusted St. Peter with the keys, representing a passing on of authority. It would be up to St. Peter, the apostles and their successors, the pope and the bishops to serve the Church as a whole, to keep her united and faithful to the truth that they have received from Jesus.
Seeing the the joy of the many alumni who returned to St. Peter for Homecoming, I saw how much this place meant for them and it reminded me that one of the difficult transitions in our church is moving from a vibrant campus ministry to a regular parish. Yet, the beauty of our Catholic faith is that whatever grace one experienced in a particular place is not limited to that place. We are called to be strong in our commitment even when the things do not conform to all our preferences. Every place that a community gathered to celebrate the Eucharist is a community gathered by Jesus and our faith calls us to contribute our gifts there. It is important that we continue to mature and deepen our commitment to our Catholic faith, the faith that St. Peter and many other died for, a faith that they received from our Lord.