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It seems everyone has an opinion about Millennials!

First, who are we talking about? They were born roughly between 1981 and 1996. They would be in their mid-20s to just about 40. 72.1 million Americans are Millennials — and they surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest group in 2019. Millennials are more diverse than older generations, and their influence in society, the workplace, and politics is growing.

Their parents have been described variously as ‘helicopter parents” (who hovered over everything they did). ”Lawnmower”, or “snowplow” parents (who did all they could to remove obstacles from their path.) Yet Psychology Today challenges as a myth that “they cannot survive” on their own.

In the workplace, they are seen as

  • Tech-savvy
  • Collaborative
  • Innovative
  • Connected
  • Resourceful
  • Productive

Millennials are also seen leaving churches in droves.

An unknown… but saintly millennial

On October 10, 2020 Carlos Acutis became the first millennial to be named “Blessed”, the last step before being proclaimed a Saint. He would be millennials’ first saint. Born in 1991, Carlos lived only 15 years before he died of leukemia in 2009.

He is presented as a role model for youth, a “saint of the ordinary,” and also a possible patron saint for IT workers.

Carlos loved “Play Station”, the home video game console. Probably a first for anyone canonized or beatified.

All this despite some disciplinary notes in the future saint’s middle school record:

  • “Acutis disturbs the class and doesn’t have his homework” …
  • “Acutis clowns around.”

(See a 2-minute Youtube video of his youth!)

Technology in the service the Good News

But he is known not only for his mastery of computer technology. He designed websites for local clergy.

Carlos appreciated Blessed Giacomo Alberione’s initiatives to use the media to evangelize and proclaim the Gospel. He did this with websites that he had created. He also liked film and comic editing.

His online exhibition about Eucharistic Miracles around the world is still available. He had cataloged each case since he was eleven. He also cataloged the apparitions of Our Lady.

He contracted leukemia and offered his pain for both Pope Benedict XVI and for the Universal Church. “I offer all the suffering I will have to suffer for the Lord, for the Pope, and the Church”.

Carlos had asked his parents to take him on pilgrimages to the sites of all the known Eucharistic miracles in the world. His worsening health prevented this.

As he was dying the doctor treating him asked him if he was suffering much pain. He responded that “there are people who suffer much more than me”. He died in October 2009.

A millennial who instinctively understood “the medium is the message”

A millennial, learning Carlos’ story recently, said

Carlos puts flesh on what a saint who plays video games and goes on the internet looks like. He challenges me to examine my conscience and say, ‘Ok, I’m called to be a saint who uses the internet too. Am I using it to make God’s love known?’”

“Dare to be more!” Pope Francis told young people in his Post-Synodal Exhortation Christus Vivit (“Christ is alive!”). 

Carlos illustrated the most famous saying of that secular saint of the internet Marshall McLuhan. “The medium is the message”. Carlos Acutis’ life was the medium and the message! He is a reminder to each of us that we too are the medium and the message. Come to think of it Jesus was both medium and message!

See also his official website!

Questions for us no matter our age…

  • How can I use digital resources to better appreciate the Gospel?
  • Are there ways I can use technology to make God’s love better known?

Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk

Millennials described in many ways