Shepherding the Lost: How Catholic YouTube Influencers use Eudaimonic Messages to Reach Out to Catholic Young Adults

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Virginia Tech


Millennials are leaving the Catholic Church in great numbers, despite being raised in the faith. When asked for the reason of disaffiliation, young adults do not blame sexual abuse scandals in the Church nor do they cite specific Catholic beliefs and teachings. Instead, they say that they have begun to ask why stay Catholic and what meaning does the Catholic faith provide in their lives. This search for meaning has caused them to leave their faith and seek it elsewhere. However, prominent figures in Catholic media, Emily Wilson and Fr. Mike Schmitz, use YouTube as a platform to reach out to young adults in the Catholic faith. This thesis aims to understand how the two Catholic YouTube influencers use eudaimonic messages in their videos to provide the meaning that young adults have been missing from their faith. Eudaimonics has been linked to a sense of enjoyment beyond pleasure, focusing on a sense of well-being instead; this provides a deeper sense of meaning for those who view media containing eudaimonics. Using a directed content analysis, videos will be analyzed for the seven dimensions of eudaimonics – meaning in life/sense of purpose, self-acceptance, autonomy, competence, relatedness, personal growth, and living according to central personal values – and two transcendent elicitors – hopefulness and religiousness. Comments left by viewers under the videos will also be analyzed to see if viewers pick up on these meaningful messages. This analysis will evaluate how those messages by the YouTube influencers may impact young adult viewers and their Catholic faith.



Catholic Media, YouTube, Influencers, Eudaimonics, Qualitative Methodology