Examination of two large ‘matched’ samples of students from different points in time has shed light on some general cultural changes that have taken place among Catholic Secondary students in Australia. Recent surveys of over 4,100 students from 29 schools found that change has taken place in the beliefs and faith activities of young people, when compared to similar number of surveyed students in 2005.
For the majority of young people life is about enjoyment and making the best of it. However, fewer students in 2011 felt they had a sense of purpose in life when compared to students in 2005. Students who indicated they believe in God, or some sort of spirit or life force were more likely to state they had a sense of purpose in life, than those who did not believe in God or who did not know what to think.
Although fewer students said they were attending church services monthly or more often compared to students in 2005, the proportion of students attending services less frequently had increased significantly. Also significant was the increase from 2005 in the proportion of students who had attended church services other than Catholic.
Whilst there is wide diversity in students’ beliefs and attitudes, results showed that students are now more inclined to question the authority of the church, and are less inclined to just believe without questioning their own faith. The latest results suggest that students continue to construct their own beliefs and spirituality for life without necessarily adhering to the teachings of the church or school.