So, I'm a little behind in answering our questions, but sometimes life happens and blogging not so much.
Here are the questions:
In your own faith:
Have you always been Catholic?
How did the instruction and mentoring you received help you – or prevent you – from having a personal relationship with God?
If you were raised in a Catholic home, are your family members all still Catholic?
What events among your friends and family seem to explain why some are Catholic, and others are not?
I have always been Catholic and to the best of my recollection attended Mass on a regular basis with my family. We (4 children) all went to Catholic elementary school and all but 1 of my siblings attended Catholic High School. Our instruction was mixed with some of the sisters having us memorize our lessons but since we did not use the Baltimore Catechism with questions and answer format it was very odd! Other told us everyone who was not Catholic was going to hell and used fear to keep us following the rules. I was too afraid of God to really have a personal relationship with him until high school.
In high school we had many opportunities both in our parish and school to learn about God's loving nature and his mercy and forgiveness. Looking back, it was almost all about love, the total opposite to what I was taught in elementary school. Somehow it all balanced out in my brain and soul. As a teen is when I began to what I would say was a personal relationship with God. Especially instrumental in that was a retreat experience called "Christian Awakening."
As far as my siblings, once they had children of their own they went back to church and are raising their children Catholic. So, yes, we're all still Catholic :)
In your parish:
How’s your “retention rate”? What percentage of 8th graders in your parish are still practicing the faith at age 18? At age 24? Do young adults in your parish stay in touch with their childhood faith community, or do they drift away to an unknown fate?
I'd say the retention rate in both the parish I work and the parish I worship in are similar. A very high percentage of families drop in for the sacraments and then come occasionally to Mass. Many second graders have never been inside the church building except as part of religious instruction and often the second time for confession is before confirmation in 9th grade. Children do what their parents do for the most part. I think the rule of thirds used to work, one third are active practicing Catholics; one third are nominal and the last third are there to make someone happy but don't really get it. Now it might be fourths, with the last fourth really looking at the whole Church as an imposition but somewhere deep inside they have a need to make sure their child has "walking papers". Some come back to marry, but not nearly as many as in the past.
You can also take a look at the answers of people who did this in a much more timely fashion!