Going, Going, Gone

The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics

Why Do Young People Leave the Catholic Church?

The research study Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics seeks to understand more fully, and in young people’s own words, why young people leave the Catholic Church. The reasons are often not what most adults and church leaders think. Released in 2017, this study helps demystify the dynamics of religious disaffiliation and correct the inaccurate assumptions many church leaders make about disaffiliation.

This qualitative study is a statistically sound sample of the 5.4 million individuals in the United States who are former Catholics between the ages of 15 and 25.

The study may be disturbing, even disruptive. As a narrative-based study it reveals young people telling their stories of why they left the church—in their own words, uncensored and unfiltered. They speak frankly, with sometimes brutal honesty.

Some of what they have to say may be unpleasant, even disturbing, for the church to hear, and yet it is the first study that does not attempt to cast disaffiliation into overly generalized categories or to suggest that the reasons for disaffiliation are simple to understand. They are not. Young people disaffiliate from the church for reasons as diverse as the individuals’ lived experiences. 


Going, Going, Gone

Public, Candid Conversation Explores Disaffiliation from Catholic Church

Bob McCarty Talks about Why Disaffiliated Youth Are a Grace and Gift to the Church

Share My Stories Interviews


Going, Going, Gone

Going Going Gone Book

Why Do Young People Leave the Catholic Church?

Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics, a comprehensive report showcases the data along with interviews from young people.

Beyond Disaffiliation

A Process for Hope-Filled Action

Beyond Disaffiliation is a new documentary, created in collaboration with Springtide Research Institute for Religion and Young People.

Print Guidebook & Digital video

Faith Talk Having Conversations That Matter with Youth

In Faith Talk, Dr. Bob McCarty challenges catechists, teachers, and youth ministers to examine their ministry practices in light of Saint Mary’s Press’s Going, Going, Gone research.