Latino Religiosity: Cultural changes across generations and the New Age Catholic

Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type


First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer Velazquez


Catholicism is deeply embedded in the roots of Latino culture as many people are born and raised Catholic and practice the Catholic faith. In previous studies, it has been found that in comparison to younger generations of Latinos, the older generations of parents and grandparents tend to stay closer to church doctrine and be more involved with the Catholic church. They were found to have better mental health and overall well being because of their religious involvement. However there is little to no literature regarding how this religiosity directly affects Latino youth. Today’s generation of Latino youth is very different and unique compared to the previous generations of their parents and grandparents based off previous literature and my own research. One of the ideas that has been found to be the most challenged by the youth is the concept of religiosity specifically involving Catholicism and its influence on Latino culture. What interested me is the shift of my generation’s perception of Catholicism and how they have either conformed to it, completely strayed away from the Catholic religion in its entirety or if they are more spiritual but not necessarily religious. Latino youth are becoming more spiritual in the sense that they are increasingly adopting certain parts of Catholicism but not everything in church doctrine. My study aimed to find what causes those differences across generations and look at the cultural ideology that may have caused that shift. The data I collected consists of 4 in-person interviews and 100 surveys with participants of Latino backgrounds ages 18 and older. The questions asked in my survey and interviews cover certain aspects of this religiosity and whether or not Catholicism has had an significant impact on people's lives. Results of my study suggest that Latino youth are increasingly becoming more spiritual instead of religious in comparison to their older family members changing the narrative to one of the main parts of what it means to be Latino. My findings show that Latino youth are instead taking out certain aspects of Catholicism or leaving it behind entirely to adapt to and benefit their personal lifestyle of the “New Age” Catholic. The challenge of being a Catholic is certainly there for the youth but they take this challenge with heart and have changed it into a new religious culture.


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