Dean Hoge may not be a household name to most. but in the field of sociology of religion in indeed was a legend. Hoge died yesterday after a long battle with cancer at the age of 71. Much of the work that we've done at BustedHalo can certainly be traced to many of his findings in the book, Young Adult Catholics: Religion in a Culture of Choice (written with Bill Dinges, Mary Johnson and Juan Gonzalez). That book gave us a lot of the sociological trends that indeed helped us gain a foothold on how to attack what clerics were then calling "the young adult problem."
Hoge was a wonderful pragmatist when advising people like myself on how we might want to address young adults. Always a "data guy" Hoge would always throw numbers back at you to dispute common misconceptions. He revealed and continued to hammer home the fact that "young adults indeed were not disaffecting from the church--but merely not regular attendees or participants. They are still checking off the "Catholic" box." He would often tell my colleagues and I to watch out for judgmentalism. "Hitting these people with every tenent of church teaching and telling them that they are bad will NOT work. In fact, that's what drives most of them away in the first place."
Indeed. What I liked most about Dean was his folksy charm. He was an "aw shucks" kind of guy who was always very humble while still speaking with valid authority. He was a true gift to all faiths and he was a faithful Christian, very active in his own Presbyterian church.
His longtime colleague, Bill D'Antonio had this to say:
“While he was first and foremost a scholar, I’d have to say that I don’t know of a person who was more a Christian throughout his life,” said friend and colleague, William D’Antonio, who worked in recent years with Hoge at Catholic University’s Life Cycle Institute. “He was a shy person, but treated others with an easy grace as he attempted to live the Gospel.”
I couldn't have said it better...Rest in Peace, Dean.
Your humble blogger is Mike Hayes, a well-known expert in the world of young adult ministry (20s and 30s) in the Catholic Church. Mike is the author of Googling God (Paulist, 2007) where he explores both the chaotic world that young people live in and their religious reactions to that world. He also explores the age of instant gratification and how churches can respond to the needs of the young adult age by using technology alongside more traditional ministry methods.
Mike founded the award winning BustedHalo.com® in 2001 and continues to contribute to it as the editor of their catechetical section appropriately named Googling God.
Recently, he left BustedHalo® to focus on more direct ministry with young people at St Joseph University Parish as a Campus Minister for the South Campus at the University at Buffalo.
He has only two loves: his adorable wife, Marion and a nine pound chihuahua named Haze, who still find him amusing enough to let them live in their home.