Why Our Young People Need Mentors, in Marriage and at Work

When those of deep faith step up to help others understand God's power in challenging circumstances, everyone wins

Millennials yearn for mentoring, whether in building a strong marriage and family life, or in succeeding in their careers — or both. The uncertainty of today’s political environment, the high divorce rate and a toxic family life for so many, and the image-driven social media culture today all make life extremely challenging in many respects.

Rather than learn by their own mistakes, many young people would like to learn from those who have gone before them and succeeded. So they need mentors and guides.

The Lumen Institute, whose mission is to enhance the character, faith, and leadership skills of today’s business and cultural leaders, focuses on mentoring young professionals in the business world. Ray Burns, who works in New York City, runs the mentoring program nationally.

“The mentees in Lumen understand we are making an investment in them by guiding them through our core values to pursue excellence in every aspect of their lives,” he told LifeZette. “Being young and liberated from the structure of parental guidance and an institutional college experience opens them up to many temptations and moral risks.”

A mentor can mean the difference between staying in a job and leaving it, in “engaging with friends and colleagues,” and moving on. When young workers have a nonjudgmental sounding board and the ability to “tap into a warehouse of experience and knowledge, that can help them grow professionally and personally.”

We need more proactive and generous business leaders to extend a hand.

And for the home front, Legionary priests in the New York City area and in Washington, D.C., dedicate a significant amount of time to preparing couples for marriage in the Catholic church’s “pre-cana” programs. It’s a helpful resource for couples, but even so, the church is not doing enough to shepherd them through the first few years of transition and childbearing.

Hope Hirshorn of New York helps run a program geared to newly married couples. “Few young married couples today are surrounded by examples of long-term, life-giving, and God-centered marriages,” she noted. “A program called Cana Uncorked offers an antidote to this situation. Four to six newly married couples are invited to come together on a monthly basis for an evening of faith, formation, and fellowship.”

Older couples host these couples — and a Legionary of Christ priest shares guidance on pursuing holiness within the context of a Christ-centered marriage.

“As the couples grow in their faith and their friendships, their marriages communicate the love of Jesus to all they encounter,” she added. Strong marriages then translate into strong kids — and a more stable and Christian culture.

Jesus himself mentored His apostles and patiently formed them into the foundational pillars of our Catholic Church. As Christ reminds us, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone, when he is fully trained, will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).

Let’s faithfully pass the torch to those whom Christ has providentially placed in our path.

Fr. Michael Sliney is a Catholic priest based in the New York City area and an adviser to the Lumen Institute, a professional business group.