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January 2006 | Volume 17, Number 1 | $6.00


Catechesis and

Spiritual Renewal I N T HIS I SSUE : Bishop Morneau on Evangelii Nuntiandi Today’s Seminarians

C ATECHETICAL U PDATE : Catechesis and Assessment



Table of Contents

January 2006

In Every Issue 2 From the President 3 17

23 31 32

Anne Comeaux Who? Me? A Missionary? YES! From the Executive Director Neil A. Parent Leadership in a Time of Transition Books in the News Reviewed by Brennan R. Hill, SJ Vatican II Today: Calling Catholics to Holiness and Service Field Notes Cynthia Schmit, OSB Parish Collaboration: When Four is More People in the News Crossword Puzzle Megan Anechiarico A New Year Assessment & Renewal


Living on the Creative Edge page 6

Catechesis and Spiritual Renewal 4 Evangelii Nuntiandi: Robert F. Morneau On Catechesis and Renewal 6 Living on the Creative Edge David Suley 10 A Look to the Future: Today’s Seminarians Tom Walters 14 What the Church Has Been Maura Thompson Hagarty Telling Us about Adolescent Catechesis 20 Catechesis and Culture: Challenge and Hope Frank Koob

Knowing What You Don’t Know Update page U1

Catechetical Update

Adolescent Catechesis — The Questions page 14

NCCL BOARD OF DIRECTORS Ms. Anne Comeaux President Diocese of Galveston-Houston Rev. Anthony J. Salim Vice President Maronite Eparchy of Los Angeles Ms. Mary Ann Ronan Treasurer St. Paul Parish, Phoenix, AZ

Mr. David J. Florian Secretary Diocese of Kalamazoo, MI Most Rev. Richard Malone Episcopal Advisor Diocese of Portland, ME Mr. Neil A. Parent Executive Director Washington, DC


Catechesis and Assessment u1 The Importance of Knowing What You Don’t Know u6 Using How and When as the Basis for Assessment

Mr. Harry Dudley At-Large Archdiocese of Indianapolis Sr. Mary Caroline Marchal At-Large Our Lady of Lourdes, Louisville, KY Ms. Cathy Shannon At-Large Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon

Mr. Joseph Swiss At-Large Archdiocese of Baltimore Mr. James E. Tucker At-Large Diocese of Helena, MT Dr. Michael Steier Ex-Officio USCC Department of Education

Diana Dudoit Raiche Michael Carotta

NCCL STAFF Mr. Neil A. Parent Executive Director Ms. Joyce A. Crider Sr. Katherine J. Kandefer, BVM Associate Directors Ms. Patricia Vrabel Office Manager



Being a catechetical leader encompasses many different disciplines or areas of expertise within our faith… liturgy, theology, social awareness, human development, sacramentology…to name but a few. We see ourselves as ministers of the church who have broad knowledge and many skills. The recently published standards, upon which many of us are relying to provide us with guidance in preparation to staff parishes with competent catechetical leaders, list many of the skills and areas of knowledge we must consider. Think of all the titles that might apply to a well-formed catechetical leader: teacher, administrator, theologian, human resource director, trainer, peacemaker, prayer leader. I am feeling pretty confident that not many of us call ourselves “missionaries.” But missionaries we must be and the concept of mission we must pass on to those we catechize.

our actions and words that we believe in Jesus and that there is goodness in his ways. We are charged with making the Beatitudes blossom in our own areas and then extend that activity and word to those not within our physical reach. Since the General Directory for Catechesis was issued in 1997, catechetical leaders have been implementing the concept of catechesis situated in the framework of evangelization. Most of us have looked at evangelization at a parochial level, diocesan level, or maybe a national level. Few of us have acknowledged that we have a responsibility to the worldwide evangelization of people through mission activity. Catechesis on the topic of “mission” should be something we work into our curriculum at every level. Adults travel all over the world for education, business and pleasure. Perhaps some of these world travelers would be interested in forming a parish mission committee so that other parishioners could make connections outside there own little corner of the world. Maybe diocesan

We must tell the adults, youth and children in our sphere of influence that we cannot be an insular church. The Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church, more commonly known as Ad Gentes, quotes another document of the Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, when it begins, “The Church has been divinely sent to all nations that she might be ‘the universal sacrament of salvation.’” As I thought about that phrase, “the universal sacrament of salvation” I realized that this is what catechesis is about. We, who are instruments of the church, must make known the wonderful workings of our church toward making salvation the ultimate goal. So, indeed, we are also missionaries.


Ah, just what we need! Another title and another job to do. Well, as a matter of fact that is true. My diocesan mission office has sent information that says, “Mission is Proclamation and Catechesis — as Christians explicitly communicate the Gospel and welcome believers into the Church.” To “echo” that Gospel we must tell the adults, youth and children in our sphere of influence that we cannot be an insular church. We must make every effort to see that all peoples on every continent are aware of the saving mission of Jesus. We must show by January 2006


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staff and directors could work more closely with the local mission office or one of the religious orders such as Maryknoll to develop some curriculum for all levels of catechesis on the topic of missions. Perhaps mission trips can be planned at the parish and/or diocesan levels for all ages. Having been to Honduras as a part of a diocesan team has made a real difference in my life and my ministry. I met with the catechists and those they catechize. It is amazing to me how much they accomplish with so little. They have asked for only what extra materials we might have that could be of use to them. I am blessed to have seen these wonderful people and to have experienced their deep faith and eagerness to continue to fill their people with Catholic teaching. Everyone has the right to know the needs of our sisters and brothers throughout the world. Mission is the way to learn, to catechize and to engage ourselves in their lives. No, not just one more job or one more title. It is a mandate for those of us who are catechetical leaders. Find the many ways your folks will love being missionaries from afar. ❙ cl


LEADERSHIP IN A TIME OF TRANSITION Neil A. Parent In early December I participated in two national gatherings that, although convened for different purposes, underscored the same central theme: the church is undergoing a major period of transition. In neither case was the reason for the meeting to examine changes in the church. Yet at both events, the issues of change, transition, and uncertainty as to future direction and events rose quickly to the surface.

Vatican Council. But even then, ideas were germinating that helped give birth to Vatican II. Regardless of how we felt about the pre-Vatican II period, it seems unlikely that we will experience another one like it for a long time. The Spirit seems to be bubbling up through the very pores of the church, and things are going to keep changing until its structures and ministries are well suited to serving a twenty-first century population.

Things are going to keep changing until the church’s structures and ministries are well suited to serving a twenty-first century population.

The first meeting was of twenty national associations who are involved in various aspects of the church ministry, from catechesis, to serving persons with disabilities, to priestly formation. The purpose of the Washington gathering was to enable the associations to examine issues of collaboration and how, by working better together, they might enhance their respective missions. Early in the discussions, it became clear that the associations were facing a variety of common challenges: limited resources, office closings, financial instability, and a growing clash of ideologies within their ranks and within the church in general. To no one’s surprise, the meeting concluded with an agreement to convene next year to grapple specifically with three topics: leadership in a time of transition; polarization in secular and ecclesial cultures, and the changing face of ministry. The second gathering was the annual institute for new diocesan educational and catechetical leaders. But here, too, many of the issues raised by the twenty-three attendees, and to some extent by the presenters, characterized a church undergoing major transition: declining church attendance, school closings, parish clusterings, laity seeking legitimacy for their ministry, and, once again, the polarity of ideologies. To some degree it is a misnomer to refer to the church as being in transition. The church is always in transition. Its entire history has been one of change and development. Sure, some periods have been less hectic than others, and those of us who are old enough may have experienced one of them in the decades leading up to the Second

I doubt that the Spirit is going to settle for anything less. So, if we want to be leaders in the church, we have to accept the fact that we need to be nimble. The leader who sits on his or her duff with stale ideas and outdated forms of ministry will be more of a liability than an asset to the church’s mission. I suspect that clashing ideologies will grow more intense as change quickens. There will surely be plenty of blame naming for what is “ailing” the church, although I hardly consider the throes of giving birth to something new as an ailment. Still, people who feel strongly about the church will agitate for its going in one direction or another. There will be no stopping that. For this reason, I expect to see conflict management increasingly identified as a crucial skill for church leaders. It is imperative that we as church leaders not see diversity of views as a problem. Acrimonious polarization is a problem; but diversity is not. Diversity brings health to any ecosystem. It is especially important for the wellbeing of organizations. It’s the heart of creativity and development. When diversity dies, organizations stagnate and die. As leaders we want to encourage and welcome diverse ideas in the church. We want to encourage people to embrace views, but also to be humble about them. Humility reminds us that we don’t have all the answers, that truth takes many forms and comes from a variety of sources. Humility enables us to learn from everyone and everything. We recognize that as a committed disciple of Jesus we have something to share. But we also have something to learn. In the process of learning we gain the insights that will help us contribute to the church’s successful transition into future. ❙

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Evangelii Nuntiandi: On Catechesis and Renewal by Robert F. Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop of Green Bay One of the most powerful and clear documents that speaks directly to catechesis and spiritual renewal is Pope Paul VI’s Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi (On Evangelization in the Modern World). Though promulgated thirty years ago, on December 8, 1975, it remains a classic exposition of evangelization and spirituality. This is a document that deserves not just to be read but to be the source of personal prayer. The seven chapters deal with Christ the Evangelizer; the nature of evangelization; its contents, methods, beneficiaries; its workers; and the spirit of evangelization. With its accessible prose and clarity of thought, this exhortation provides an excellent perspective on the complex subject of evangelization. In paragraph 14, Pope Paul VI writes: “She [the Church] exists in order to evangelize, that is to say in order to preach and teach, to be the channel of the gift of grace, to reconcile sinners with God, and to perpetuate Christ’s sacrifice in the Mass, which is the memorial of his death and glorious Resurrection.” Here is the mission of the church; here is what underlies the ministry of catechesis. I am convinced that Evangelii Nuntiandi offers a broad perspective on catechesis and spiritual renewal. Let us now ponder that vision.






In chapter IV, “The Methods of Evangelization,” Pope Paul VI gives eight methods of proclaiming our life in Christ: the witness of life, a living preaching, liturgy of the Word, catechesis, utilization of the mass media, indispensable personal contact, role of the sacraments, and popular piety. Each of these methods is treated separately though there is a marvelous interconnectedness among them. Regarding the role of catechesis in the mission of evangelization Pope Paul VI comments: A means of evangelization that must not be neglected is that of catechetical instruction. The intelligence, especially that of children and young people, needs to learn through systematic religious instruction the fundamental teachings, the living content of the truth which God has wished to convey to us and which the Church has sought to express in an ever richer fashion during the course of her long history. No one will deny that this instruction must be given to form patterns of Christian living and not to remain only notional. Truly the effort for evangelization will profit greatly—at the level of catechetical instruction given at church, in the schools, where this is possible, and in every case in Christian homes — if those giving catechetical instruction have suitable texts, updated with wisdom and competence, under the authority of the

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One of the greatest obstacles to spiritual renewal and growth is an ill-formed or immature understanding of God. Bishops. The methods must be adapted to the age, culture and aptitude of the persons concerned: they must seek always to fix in the memory, intelligence and heart the essential truths that must impregnate all of life. It is necessary above all to prepare good instructors — parochial catechists, teachers, parents — who are desirous of perfecting themselves in this superior art, which is indispensable and requires religious instruction. Moreover, without neglecting in any way the training of children, one sees that present conditions render ever more urgent catechetical instruction, under the form of the catechumenate, for innumerable young people and adults who, touched by grace, discover little by little the face of Christ and feel the need of giving themselves to him. (No. 44)

ESSENTIAL COMPONENTS Three essential components of catechesis need be to highlighted. First, essential truths or “master-facts,” such as God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, sin and grace, the Church, the Kingdom, must be understood and appropriated — that is, fixed “in the memory, intelligence, and heart.” In an age of pluralism and skepticism, the role of truth is crucial. Our Catholic tradition has a deep appreciation of the role of reason and its ability to come to knowledge. Though language is never totally adequate, words do capture portions of the mystery and lead to understanding. Second, for catechesis to be effective, proper adaptation must be made according to age and temperament, culture and history, and the diverse ability of people to understand. This simply means “know your audience.” Unless we communicate well our efforts at both catechesis and evangelization will fail. This adaptation in no way implies accommodation. Third, the work of catechesis involves the whole church: parents, schools, religious formation personnel, pastors and the entire faith community. In a certain sense the first means of evangelization — witness to the Gospel — is primary in that all the systematic instruction given will not be effective without the presence of those who actually live Gospel values. We need models just as we need mentors if we are to attain to the maturity that full discipleship demands. The last sentence in paragraph 44 offers a segue into the relationship between catechesis and spirituality: “…for innumerable young people and adults who, touched by grace, discover little by little the face of Christ and feel the need of giving themselves to him.”




Spirituality is concerned with our relationship to God and how that relationship influences the rest of our lives. Components of the spiritual

life are prayer (fostering our relationship with God), service (reaching out to our sisters and brothers in need), and asceticism (seeking a freedom that assists prayer and service). The spiritual person is open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and responds to those stirrings with courage and generosity. The spiritual life is a pearl of great price. It demands constant tending, and that is where catechesis comes in. When we engage in a systematic process of learning more and more about our faith, our spiritual life takes on depth and reaches out toward ever farther horizons. Again we can turn to Pope Paul VI’s Evangelii Nuntiandi as a guide in showing the relationship between spiritual renewal and catechesis. The world which, paradoxically, despite innumerable signs of the denial of God, is nevertheless searching for him in unexpected ways and painfully experiencing the need of him—the world is calling for evangelizers to speak to it of a God whom the evangelists themselves should know and be familiar with as if they could see the invisible. The world calls for and expects from us simplicity of life, the spirit of prayer, charity toward all, especially toward the lowly and the poor, obedience and humility, detachment and self-sacrifice. Without the mark of holiness, our world will have difficulty in touching the heart of modern man. It risks being vain and sterile. (No. 76) Two points are of great importance here: our concept of God and the characteristics of authentic spirituality. One of the greatest obstacles to spiritual renewal and growth is an ill-formed or immature understanding of God. Every catechist has an idea or concept of God and that “theology” is conveyed to students either directly in language or by way of osmosis through the personality of the catechist. If God is portrayed as being harsh, judgmental, distant, severe, the work of evangelization will fail. Was it not poor “catechesis” that turned Emily Dickinson, James Joyce, and so many others away from the institutional church? Even a doctor of the church, St. Augustine, confesses in his Confessions: “The idea I had of You was falsehood and not truth, a fiction of my own littleness, not the solid ground of Your beatitude.” And then there are the characteristics of holiness that make our catechetical ministry credible. Pope Paul VI lists seven of them: 1) simplicity of life (in a world of such complexity and clutter); 2) the spirit of prayer (living with a sense of loving attention toward the mystery of God); 3) charity toward all (a love that does not discriminate); 4) obedience (listening and responding to God’s voice); 5) humility (living in the truth of things — our utter dependence upon God); continued on page 24

5 C AT E C H E T I C A L L E A D E R

Living on the

Creative Edge What the home missions offer the rest of the church in the United States is a glimpse of its future by David Suley


n 2002, the Bishops’ Committee on the Home Missions asked Dr. William Dinges of the Catholic University of America to visit ten mission dioceses in the United States and describe the reality he saw. He was also to ponder his experience and to comment on Home Mission America as a whole. How does the Catholic Church look from what most Americans think of as the boondocks? How does it differ from the well-established, relatively comfortable church today’s Catholics in the Northeast, the Midwest and on the Pacific Coast have always known?

Dr. Dinges offers the following summation: “Roman Catholicism in the United States is in a new social and cultural situation. New ways of ‘being church’ are emerging. Nowhere is this more obvious than in home mission dioceses. The growing Latino presence, widening clerical shortage, and expanding embrace of lay ministry which are so pronounced in many of these dioceses have profound and long-term implications for the future of the Church as a whole.” “Home missions,” “home mission diocese,” “Home Mission America” are hardly household terms. They deserve to be better known, because the mission areas of the United States are willy-nilly leading the church’s grace-charged march into the twenty-first century. For decades, these areas have languished in obscurity at the edge of the Catholic world. But given the proper conditions, living on the edge can be a vitalizing experience. With the unknown only a step away, there is at least a clear view of the terrain that must be crossed. What the home missions offer the rest of the church in the United States is a glimpse of its future, and perhaps some experience in coping. Whether they wanted to or not — and they usually didn’t — the missions have become the test sites for building strong, self-reliant Catholic communities under trying, unstable conditions. As Dr. Dinges notes, the diminishing presence of priests and sisters, the concomitant rise of lay ministry, and the exploding Hispanic presence created new conditions in the missions that will soon spread to the more prosperous parts of the church. Many dioceses across the country will begin feeling the stresses that now trouble mission dioceses. Small towns in Pennsylvania and Connecticut will lose their pastors; parishes in California will group

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The missions have become the test sites for building strong, self-reliant Catholic communities under trying, unstable conditions. into clusters or close; religious education will inevitably become the work of lay people. As this dynamic unfolds in coming decades, the creativity, practicality and resilience of mission bishops, priests and laity should make them useful models to imitate. At the very least, their experience will alert the rest of the church that changing times require adaptation and adjustment in pastoral practice. Dr. Dinges notes: “One visionary perspective I encountered in the course of my research stands out. It is a vision that shifts how the Church understands the term ‘mission diocese.’ Traditionally, a mission diocese [was] a place looking for a handout, a place with a welfare mentality, a place that [was] deficient, mediocre and constantly in need. The new vision [is of ] a missionary diocese, a place where all Catholics are challenged to assume a new responsibility for renewal and ownership in the Church.” For now, we can look into the mirrors the home missions holds up for the church in the United States.

In east Tennessee only one person in fifty is Catholic. APPALACHIA



Home mission dioceses are relatively less able than other dioceses to provide basic pastoral services (evangelization, religious education, training for ministry, subsidy of poor parishes) to their people. Home mission dioceses are often characterized by: ■

Low assets that limit diocesan pastoral programs and the support a diocese can give its parishes

Few Catholics within the diocese (typically, less than 10 percent of the total population)

Great distances—as many as 50 miles—separating isolated parishes and missions, difficult terrain, extreme weather

Few or no Catholic institutions (religious houses, schools, colleges, hospitals, retreat centers) to support evangelization and religious education

Poverty, high unemployment, low wages

A severe shortage of priests, deacons and skilled pastoral workers for mission churches

A growing number of Hispanics and members of other racial/ethnic groups in need of pastoral attention

Unfamiliarity, lack of interest, or even outright hostility toward Catholicism or religion in general in the local culture. —USCCB Secretariat on the Home Missions

If “home missions” conjures up any image at all in the minds of American Catholics, it is probably a small clapboard church ‘up a holler’ in Appalachia or on a back street in a southern town. There is still much truth to this image. The Diocese of Knoxville, which covers the eastern third of Tennessee, has the lowest percentage of Catholic population in the country, a little over 2 percent in 2000. To give this bland figure flesh, consider that in most parts of the United States one of every five people you meet is Catholic. In the mountains of east Tennessee, that would be one person in fifty. The reality is mostly the same in the other states of the former Confederacy and in the border state of Kentucky. The Catholic population of southern Alabama is 4 percent, of northern Mississippi 2.4 percent, of Arkansas about 5 percent, of south and central Georgia 3 percent, of western Kentucky 6.4 percent, of Louisiana north of Cajun country about 9 percent, of South Carolina 3.2 percent.

with a little, sustained by a powerful faith. In reality, if your Mississippi parish has only fifty families, half of which are elderly couples; if a young mother is the only teacher of religion for twenty children from kindergarten through high school; if the total offertory collection for the year is under $25,000, then the church looks quite different than it does in Manhattan. Your son might be the only Catholic in his sixth-grade class, and fitting in with the Baptist and Methodist kids can be tricky. The pastor is available for Mass and confessions and maybe a little counseling on Friday and Saturday, but then must move on to his home parish in the county seat. He relies on volunteers to handle daily administration, aid to the poor, relations with other local congregations, evangelization of white and black townspeople, and a range of other ministries.

It is not just the presence of few Catholics that makes an area mission territory, but that is a critical factor. In theory, you can do a lot

continued on page 8

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continued from page 7

ALASKA Catholics who receive the Alaskan Shepherd appeal every year have another image of Home Mission America: keeping Father on the trail as he mushes from one remote outpost to another. These days, the circuit-riding Alaskan priest still travels to provide Mass and the sacraments to a scattered congregation, but he flies, takes a ferry or, if necessary, rides a snowmobile. Still, pastoring in the great North remains hard duty under harsh conditions. It is a thousand miles from the headquarters of the Archdiocese of Anchorage to Dutch Harbor at the end of the Aleutian chain. The Diocese of Fairbanks consists of the city itself, population about 50,000; a string of Eskimo villages dotting the coast north and south of Nome; and 400,000 square miles of frozen wilderness. The seven diocesan priests of Juneau cover eleven parishes with the aid of three religious priests and three religious sisters. There are no roads in the diocese except for a few miles outside the city of Juneau. Most parishes are accessible only by air or water.

THE MILITARY SERVICES The Committee on the Home Missions has been assisting the Archdiocese for the Military Services since World War II. The reason is

straightforward. The archdiocese oversees all the Catholic chaplains in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard and in VA Medical Centers. Perhaps one-third of all active-duty soldiers and sailors are Catholics, many of them Hispanics. Wherever they are — at home or on military bases and ships around the world — these men and women need pastoral care. Chaplains lead worship, celebrate sacraments, counsel, and offer a comforting presence to young people cut off from home and parish and, sometimes, from virtually all reminders of their religious heritage. Wartime postings to Iraq and Afghanistan greatly aggravate an already difficult situation.

THE TERRITORIES The deepest home mission fields are not in continental North America at all. They are U.S. territories or former territories, annexed or captured in war. Puerto Rico in the Caribbean, sun-splashed but grindingly poor both in rural areas and the inner cities, is officially 80 to 90 percent Catholic, but an estimated 10 percent attend Mass regularly. Evangelical churches have been active and successful on the island throughout the twentieth century, making pastoral life extremely difficult for overworked priests. The Virgin Islands, home mostly to West Indian blacks and regularly assaulted by tropical

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Church leaders must deal with widespread poverty, an uneducated laity, and the need to evangelize a culture that can seem quite alien. storms, are poor and dependent; fully 80 percent of its citizens work in the tourist trade. About one-third of the islanders are Catholic, organized into eight parishes on four inhabited islands. Many of the Pacific missions seem quite exotic to mainlanders. Guam and Saipan in the Marianas, with their neat new parish churches, tourist accommodations, middle-class housing and abundant shopping, don’t look much different than modest sections of Florida. But the rest of Micronesia, with the partial exception of Palau, is distinctly Third World. One- or two-story concrete-block houses, unpainted and capped with rusty tin roofs, represent the upper end in real estate; the lower end is tarpaper and plywood shacks. Grit, dilapidation and the dripping rain forest are virtually universal. Besides the usual range of pastoral problems, missionaries and indigenous church leaders must deal with widespread poverty, an uneducated laity, and the need to evangelize a culture that can seem quite alien by Western standards. And it is hot and humid year round, even at night. The church barely has a presence in some places. There are only four priests, three of them U.S. Jesuits, in the Marshall Islands, an independent country just north of the Equator. The prefect apostolic is pastor of eight parishes in the “outer islands,” which he visits as time, transportation and weather permits. The Diocese of the Caroline Islands actually covers two different countries, Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia (which is itself composed of four distinct cultures on four island groups). Providing even the simplest pastoral services is difficult. For example, there are only two resident priests in Palau. The pastor responsible for the villages that dot the coast of Babeldoab, the largest island, can only make his circuit three or four times a year. The rest of the time, lay catechists travel a couple of hours each way to bring back consecrated hosts for Eucharistic services.

THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN STATES In the last few decades, home mission territory has broadened with demographic and economic shifts. Nowhere is change greater than in the Rocky Mountain region, which bids fair to replace Appalachia and the South as the poster child for Home Mission America. The urbanization that is drawing prosperous Catholic Yankees south is emptying the U.S. countryside farther west. At the same time, the shortage of clergy and religious is reaching crisis proportions, with priests doing their best to serve two or three parishes at once, sometimes into advanced age. The Diocese of Cheyenne, for example, covers the state of Wyoming. Thirty-two active dioce-

san priests serve 50,000 Catholics scattered over 100,000 square miles of high plains. A pastor might drive hundreds of miles each weekend to say Mass at several locations before returning to take up regular duties at his home parish again. It is a lonely and difficult existence, especially in winter when the roads become dangerous. Nor is his plight unusual. A count of priests and parishes starting at the Mexican border and moving through the Rockies to Canada yields startling results: 185 active diocesan priests to staff 527 parishes and missions. Clearly, the Catholic Church would dry up in some towns, even in some counties, if lay Catholics did not take over church responsibilities priests and sisters used to handle.

The shortage of clergy and religious is reaching crisis proportions. The state of religious education also illustrates the church’s growing problems in the mountain states. In the three contiguous states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, there are a total of seven Catholic high schools. Unless you live in one of the few cities in this vast terrain, getting your child a Catholic education will be quite a challenge. Of course, all but the smallest parishes offer religious education programs of their own; the volunteers who act as administrators and teachers perform a wonderful service to the next generation. However, many places are hundreds of miles from the chancery. The diocese may offer an annual conference for catechists and a range of training programs as well, but taking advantage of these opportunities is often impossible.

LA FRONTERA Catholic dioceses along the Mexican border in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona have long been part of mission territory. However, recent years have seen a remarkable development in the quality and quantity of church life here. The most obvious change is in the number of Catholic Spanish-speaking immigrants. While “mission” is associated with a small, scattered Catholic population in the Rocky Mountain states, the opposite is true in Texas. The Catholic population of the Diocese of El Paso is about 650,000; of Brownsville, 750,000; of Laredo, 220,000; of San Antonio, 680,000; of Las Cruces, 130,000; of Tucson, about 300,000. In some cases, these figures are growing rapidly. The number of Brownsville Catholics is up about 200,000 since 1990, while the count in El Paso has risen 130,000. In many ways, that is a wonderful problem to have. The church’s evangelizing mandate is to gather all people to God, and the border states are certainly a field ready for harvest. However, you can’t adequately serve people’s spiritual and physical needs when there is little time to plan, when personnel and resources are in short supply, and continued on page 26

9 C AT E C H E T I C A L L E A D E R

A Look to the Future:

Today’s Seminarians by Tom Walters

Who are the young men who are being called to priesthood today and what impact will they have on the catechetical ministry in the years ahead? Accurately portraying today’s seminarians is beyond the competence of any one person or even several individuals. Consider two quotes from an article by Michael Rose (author of Goodbye! Good Men) in the December 2001 New Oxford Review. Rose cites an article in America magazine by Fr. Albert DiIanni, who he sees great hope in today’s seminarians: They are interested in “a discipline of prayer, loyalty to the magisterium, and… the full richness of Catholic theology, contemplation and the classical mission of caring for souls” (Feb. 28, 1998 issue). He [DiIanni] said that these seminarians can be found in “full habit,” that they enjoy singing the Liturgy of the Hours, and that they are “conservative and intelligent. …They are shifting away from what they view as excessive emphasis on the secular mission — the need to transform the world and its social structures — toward a more explicitly religious mission.”

Rose then refers to Fr. Eugene Hemrick, a researcher, who… thinks that these kinds of men are out of touch with reality, that their love for Catholic tradition and desire for pursuing a more explicitly religious mission makes them incapable of dealing with the reality of everyday life as a priest. So are today’s seminarians a “great hope,” as DiIanni seems to think, or “out of touch with reality,” as Fr. Hemrick believes? I often hear both of these views expressed. It seems that no one is without an opinion. But which is true? (Or are both true or both false?) For those of us professionally involved in the catechetical ministry, this question should concern us. Who the seminarians are and the vision of church that they will bring to the parish community is of prime importance as we look to the future of the catechetical ministry. This is especially true in light of the National Directory for Catechesis, which in chapter eight states that the priest not only shares in the

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teaching role of the bishop by holy orders, but is also called to be the “catechist of catechists” (No. 222). In this light, it makes a great deal of difference if today’s seminarians are in fact a “great hope” or “out of touch with reality.” And more to the point, what type of hope or vision will they bring to the parish community, particularly in light of the fact that many of these soon-to-be-ordained seminarians are the priests and pastors of the future? In seeking an answer, we begin by looking at what has happened to priesthood since Vatican II.




clerical caste … It emphasized obedience to hierarchical authority, formalism in spiritual exercises and devotions, conservatism in doctrine, and self-control in all things.

VATICAN II Leading up to and following Vatican II, there was a change in how priesthood was viewed in the United States. The “cultic” model gave way to a democratic model more in tune with the times, as Hoge and Wenger recount:

CULTIC MODEL (Institutional)


“man set apart”

Ontological Status of the Priest

values strict hierarchy

Attitude toward the Church Magisterium

follows established rules

Liturgy and Devotions

This cultic model of the priesthood was already beginning to change prior to the council… a new model of priesthood arose, sometimes called the ‘servant-leader model.’ This vision, summarized by historian Robert Schwartz, saw priests as sharing the human condition with all of the baptized (Schwartz, 1989). It received its energy both from the council and also from the democratic spirit of the ’60s. It de-emphasized the priest’s separateness and special status, placing him in twin roles of servant and leader with the community of believers. The church itself was now defined, following the council teaching, as the people of God, a community in which the clergy-laity distinction was much less important. A priest’s distinctiveness now came from his spiritual and institutional leadership with the community, not just as a matter of ontological difference coming from holy orders. The earlier concept of SERVANT-LEADER MODEL ‘ministry’ as the domain solely (Communal) of priests was now redefined pastoral leader as the work of all baptized Christians, both priests and values flexible structure laity. Now nobody had to become a priest to do ministry. allows creativity

defends “orthodoxy”

Theological Perspective

allows for theological differences

essential to the priesthood

Attitude toward Celibacy

Dean Hoge and Jacqueline Wenger, two sociologists of religion, report in Evolving Visions of the Priesthood: The research is clear: a new type of priest has arrived. A process of change began in the early 1980s and picked up steam through the 1990s. Not only do our surveys indicate this, but everyone we interviewed said the same: they are different from priests ordained in the 1960s and 1970s. Hoge and Wenger, in interpreting their findings, posit two models of priesthood, a pre-Vatican II cultic or institutional model and a post-Vatican II servant-leader or communal model. These models differ in five strategic areas:

PRE-VATICAN II Prior to Vatican II there existed the “cultic” model of priesthood that had existed in the church for two or three centuries. As Hoge and Wenger explain: It was named the ‘cultic model’ by priest theologian and historian James Bacik because of the central importance it places on worship and sacraments (Bacik, 1999). That is, it saw the priest as mainly a provider of sacraments. This sacred role was underlined by the priest’s distinctive lifestyle. The priest remained celibate, lived in a rectory, brought the sacraments to his parishioners as much as possible, wore distinctive clerical garb, and kept a certain distance from everyday social life … Solely by virtue of their office, priests were accorded high status and influence in the immigrant communities (Bacik, p. 51). They saw themselves as a separate




In the early and mid-80s things began to change. The interpretations of Vatican II that drove the Catholic Church’s aggiornamento in the United States came under scrutiny and the impact was evident in seminaries and presbyterates throughout the country. Hoge and Wenger continue: optional for the priesthood

By the early 1980s, tensions began to emerge over the models of priesthood. A different model came into favor — which some saw as preconciliar and others saw as a new synthesis, but which in any event was close to the cultic model. …Support for both models is clear in the conciliar documents. Yet the post-Vatican II priests were dismayed. The result is a polarization over the theology of the priesthood (and more broadly, proper ecclesiology) that pits older and younger priests against each other to this day. Each faction stands firmly and confidently on a well-established theology of priesthood and Church. continued on page 12

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TODAY’S SEMINARIANS continued from page 11

Is this where the catechetical ministry is headed? Are seminarians and catechetical leaders on different sides of an ecclesiological divide?




Today’s seminarians tend to be critical of their formal religious education Each semester when I begin my introductory course in catechetics, I ask the students to reflect in writing on their own formal religious education. The following are representative samples of what the seminarians write: CCD was horribly inadequate. In the wake of Vatican II there was a move away from learning the fundamentals (i.e., Baltimore Catechism) and toward “God is love…make a banner” mentality. The result is a generation (or more) of us who know or knew nothing about why we’re Catholic. This led to insecurity about explaining/defending the faith to non-Catholics and I believe contributed to defections from the Church. Poor. As a young child I went to “Sunday School” only occasionally. When I did attend, we colored, made collages, banners and other crafts. The message: Jesus loves me and we must love each other. In high school, I chose to enter an adult confirmation class (mostly for those getting married) which were a bit more substantial, but not overly memorable. It seemed to be a lot about jumping through hoops but … I do remember the seriousness of my first confession, first communion and my confirmation. Okay, I suppose. But eventually came to see that perhaps I didn’t really know that much. Even though going through Catholic school K-12. Sex Ed. Stupid collages. What is friendship? The irony for me in these comments is that they sound like my generation’s critique of the Baltimore Catechism and our formal religious education. The difference is that we grew up in a religion and knew all the rules and in the aftermath of Vatican II went in search of faith, while today’s seminarians seem to have grown up with a sense of faith, but are searching for a religion. They are drawn to structures, liturgy, strict moral teachings and tradition. They are searching for hooks on which to hang their faith in God. Today’s priesthood candidates are in seminary because they sense a real call from God I don’t think the majority of men come to the seminary with an agenda. However, many of them do come from more traditionally religious families and parishes, and they bring this ecclesiology with them. It is an ecclesiology that favors a more cultic understanding of priesthood. In other words, they are products of their nurturing communities — a dynamic no different than the one that brought large numbers of young people to seminaries and religious communities in the 1950s and 60s. There is a tendency for many catechetical leaders to type cast them as reactionary or neo-orthodox. I don’t think they are. Some, certainly, but not all. I think they are searchers much as those of us who grew up

in the pre- and post-Vatican II church are. It’s just that they are looking for something different than what we sought or seek. They want a faith community that sends a clear message about what it believes; they have difficulty accepting the fact that those in positions of responsibility tend to see issues in shades of gray instead of black and white. This desire is reminiscent of my generation’s approach to social justice in the 70s. It is also a characteristic of youth and the newly converted. Today’s seminarians prefer to operate from a hermeneutic of trust, rather than suspicion. After Vatican Council II many catechetical leaders received a theological education that emphasized the importance of finding God within the culture. They were taught to trust their own experience and to parse their Catholic faith through that experience. Many of the younger seminarians are shocked by this. They often ask, somewhat stridently at times, why Vatican II Catholics (many of their professors) place more faith in their personal experience than they do in “what the church teaches.” These seminarians argue that church leaders should be critiquing the culture and embracing church teachings (albeit at times their own rather narrow and uninformed understanding of the tradition). I don’t think this attitude of suspicion toward the culture and simple trust and faithfulness in the institutional church comes from nostalgia for an idealized bygone church, as much as it arises from a deep desire to stand for something and to be a part of a church that offers an alternative perspective on the materialistic values of the prevailing culture. But as a result of this desire to stand for something, there is a tendency for seminarians to be strongly influenced by sources outside the seminary community who are nostalgic for a bygone era. Today’s seminarians are captivated by the courage and the convictions that they saw in Pope John Paul II. They are more enamored of the writings of John Paul II than they are of the documents of Vatican II and the theologians who informed the writing of these documents. For many seminarians, faculty quoting Vatican II documents appear to be proof-texting. For many of today’s seminarians religion is a choice, not an inheritance It is not uncommon for a seminarian, convert or Catholic from birth, to point to a precise moment or event in his life where he knew he was being called to give his life to God. This younger generation of seminarians has chosen to be Catholic. And, as was pointed out earlier, they are choosing Catholicism and priesthood because of the allure of the church’s structures, liturgy, strict moral teachings and traditions. The fact that religion is a choice is one of the more dramatic and important changes in seminarians from those who were ordained in 50s, 60s, and 70s. In fact, a growing number of today’s seminarians are converts. Today’s seminarians seek affirmation of their experience Unlike the pilgrim people of Vatican II, this generation of seminarians, is more in tune with the young adults profiled in Colleen Carroll’s

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We grew up in a religion and knew all the rules and after Vatican II went in search of faith … today’s seminarians seem to have grown up with a sense of faith, but are searching for religion. 2002 book The New Faithful. They “are not perpetual seekers. They are committed to a religious worldview that grounds their lives and shapes their morality…” Today’s seminarians believe they have found the truth in the Catholic Church, and they want their seminary education to affirm this new found truth and to teach them what the church teaches and why, so that they can effectively evangelize the world. They want answers, not more questions. They desire catechetical instruction, not theological education. They are looking for a code of conduct to which they can adhere. They want both the church’s teachings and their religious experience affirmed, not challenged.




What are the implications of these reflections for today’s catechetical leaders? First, recognize that the younger seminarians have grown up in a church that has impacted them in ways that we know not. Second, recognize that the dramatic generational and ecclesiological differences between current catechetical leaders and today’s seminarians are not insurmountable. Those of us from the Vatican II church have much to share, but so do the young people who were the products of our religious education efforts. If dialogue is to occur, we must be willing

to learn from those who will be priests and pastors in the years ahead. I realize that I am putting the burden on us, but that’s okay. We’ve been around. We can do it. Third, keep in mind that the next batch of catechetical leaders is going to be hired by the pastors who are today’s seminarians. They will tend to hire leaders who are sympathetic to their own views, just as pastors did who were schooled immediately following the Second Vatican Council. Finally, with the growing shortage of priests in many dioceses, today’s seminarians will not have time to “grow up” in priesthood before being appointed a pastor and, in many cases, a pastor of more than one parish. (Many of Saint Meinrad School of Theology priesthood graduates are pastors within 3-5 years after ordination.) Catechetical leaders have a responsibility to do their part to insure that there is no ecclesiological divide between themselves and the next generation of “catechists of the catechists.” ❙ Thomas P. Walters, PhD, a past president of NCCL, is academic dean and professor of religious education at St. Meinrad School of Theology. Please send any comments to

13 C AT E C H E T I C A L L E A D E R

What the Church Has Been Telling Us about Adolescent Catechesis by Maura Thompson Hagarty

The documents raise questions that do not have easy answers and the tensions underlying them are real.


he National Directory for Catechesis (NDC) is the latest in a series of church documents that have offered guidance on adolescent catechesis in the years since Vatican II (19621965). This article briefly surveys several of these documents, highlighting key ideas and developments and then posing questions relevant to the future of adolescent catechesis that have been prompted by my reading of the NDC in light of them. These documents include catechetical directories, papal writings and youth ministry documents.

EARLY CATECHETICAL DIRECTORIES Vatican II affirmed the developments of the modern catechetical movement when it called for a new genre among official documents — the catechetical directory — rather than a universal catechism for children. In 1971 the General Catechetical Directory (GCD) was completed. (The term ‘general’ indicates that the document was written for the whole church throughout the world.) It attempted to set a direction for catechesis at a time of tension and conflict. It also encouraged the development of other directories for specific nations or regions of the world. The bishops of the United States responded with publication of the National Catechetical Directory (NCD) in 1979. In subsequent years, both were revised. The General Directory for Catechesis (GDC) was published in 1997 and the new U.S. directory, the NDC, in 2005. These directories are key sources of guidance for adolescent catechesis, not simply because they include sections specifically focused on this phase of life, but primarily because the overall vision of pastoral ministry, catechesis and Christian living that they set forth applies to people of all ages. Both the 1971 GCD (No. 17) and the 1979 NCD (No. 32) identify catechesis as one form of the church’s ministry of the word (along with evangelization, liturgy, and theology) and quote Vatican II’s Christus Dominus (CD), No. 14, to describe it. Catechesis “is intended to make [the people’s] faith become living, conscious, and active through the light of instruction.” Both, however, attempt to go beyond the implication that instruction is the primary

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The overall vision of pastoral ministry, catechesis and Christian living that these directories set forth applies to people of all ages. means of catechesis. They emphasize the interrelation of catechesis with evangelization, understood as the initial proclamation of the word, and other ministries. The GCD also suggests that there are broad and narrow views of catechesis by distinguishing between “catechesis” and “catechesis proper.” The NCD is more direct, stating that “it does not do justice to catechesis to think of it as instruction alone”(No. 35). The U.S. directory broadens catechesis beyond instruction also by identifying four tasks of catechesis: “to proclaim Christ’s message, to participate in efforts to develop community, to lead people to worship and prayer, and to motivate them to serve others” (NCD, No. 213). Both the GCD and the NCD call for adapting catechesis to various age levels including adolescence, the stage of life that spans the years roughly from the onset of puberty to the beginning of adulthood. Each directory draws on the social sciences to describe common characteristics of adolescents, identifies some of the problems they face, and suggests some implications for catechesis. The GCD states that “the principal task of catechesis” for this group is to help them develop a “genuinely Christian understanding of life. It must shed the light of the Christian message on the realities which have greater impact on the adolescent, such as the meaning of bodily existence, love and the family, the standards to be followed in life, work and leisure, justice and peace and so on” (No. 84). Adolescent catechesis is effective when is leads young people toward assuming responsibility for living the Christian faith. In order to achieve this, catechesis should encourage “personal experience of the faith” and “well-ordered reflection on religious matters” (No. 89). The NCD’s guidelines for catechesis with children and youth emphasize that its “most important task …is to provide, through the witness of adults, an environment in which young people can grow in faith” (No. 181). The NCD notes that adolescents develop the ability to reason deductively, making the use of systematic, formal methods of instruction more feasible. Despite this, deductive methods are more effective when preceded by induction— approaches that provide “experiences of lived faith, in which the message of salvation is applied to specific situations” (No. 181). The NCD calls for further research and experimentation as well as professional competence in order to produce programs that properly sequence and present the Christian message in a manner appropriate to each age and maturity level.

U.S. YOUTH MINISTRY DOCUMENTS The period during which the GCD was being received and the NCD was being developed coincided with the emergence of a national consensus on the church’s pastoral ministry with youth. In 1976, the Department of Education of the then U.S. Catholic Conference (USCC) published “A Vision of Youth Ministry” (VYM), which set forth goals and principles to guide a unified approach to ministry with young people. In its discussion of catechesis, this document quotes Christus Dominus 14, but unlike the GCD, the vision statement omitted the reference to instruction. It distinguished between formal and informal catechesis and called for a diversity of approaches including retreats that enable “young people to experience Christian faith … in a way that is seldom possible within … the more academic framework” (VYM, p. 7). Like the GCD and the NCD, the vision statement identified catechesis as a ministry of the word closely related to evangelization. The vision statement stresses that the full effectiveness of the ministries of the word, catechesis and evangelization depends on situating them in the context of a multi-faceted ministry and tending to all facets. “A Vision of Youth Ministry” refers to them as components and identifies seven: word, worship, creating community, guidance and healing, justice and service, ennoblement, and advocacy. The implication for adolescent catechesis is clear: To succeed in this one area of ministry, the church must be effective in all the others. Ten years later, in 1986, a document developed by the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM), The Challenge of Adolescent Catechesis (CAC), focused more extensively on the catechetical aspect of the word component of youth ministry. This document followed the GCD and the NCD in identifying catechesis as a ministry of the word and Pope John Paul II’s 1979 apostolic exhortation, Catechesi Tradendae (CT), in defining catechesis as a moment or stage in the process of evangelization. (See CAC Nos.4 and 5 and CT No. 20.) Here ‘evangelization’ is a broad concept that parallels the full process of conversion rather than the initial proclamation of the word. This document, however, doesn’t fully explore the implications of situating catechesis in the context of evangelization. It clearly recognizes that catechesis is “a broad reality” but intentionally sets out to provide guidance only on one dimension of catechesis— the “systematic and formal” aspect “that can be planned” (No. 5). (In 1993 the NFCYM explored the evangelization of adolescents in a document entitled, The Challenge of Catholic Youth Evangelization.) continued on page 26

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Catechesis and Assessment | Volume 17, January 06

CATECHETICAL UPDATE A publication of the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership


When it comes to good news, people generally want to shout that news from the housetops. Those of us dedicated to catechetical ministry think about the Good News of Jesus Christ in that way. So, we dedicate our lives to evangelization and catechesis in multiple forms in and out of season. When it comes to bad news, however one defines bad news, there is a certain tendency in the human condition to “deep six” an uncomfortable message or, as Washington insiders would say, send it to the Spin Zone. Sometimes not reporting unflattering news is an act of kindness. At other times, it can be dangerous. For example, my mother used to rephrase an old adage this way: “What you don’t know can hurt you!” In her day, when health care in the deep South and access to a doctor was not what it is today, people often died because the diagnosis that might have saved a life came to light only during an autopsy. There are folks today who would rather not know bad news of any sort, no matter the consequence. However, for those of us charged with evangelizing and catechizing in a formal way, being in the dark about what is happening in catechesis is simply not an option. Of course, all the baptized are called to pass on the faith, but we are charged with bringing the Good News to people of all age groups, all cultures, all circumstances in a manner effectively suited to each specific audience.

UNDERLYING QUESTIONS Catechetical leaders are expected to know the what, the why and the when inherent in catechesis. We need to know the content of the faith and be authentic witnesses of the faith

© 2005 by National Conference for Catechetical Leadership



in order to be credible. We need to select catechetical methods and delivery systems with intelligent intentionality: knowing why we are doing what we are doing while we are doing it. We need to judge when the what and why are producing the desired results. Of course, we know that faith is a gift and that God’s grace is working all the time; it is the human condition, more often than not, that becomes an obstacle to the grace that ignites faith. The real questions just under the surface in catechesis are precisely the ones some catechetical leaders shy away from. How do we know when we are passing on the faith effectively? What outcomes do we expect from our efforts? What are the signs that those outcomes are present? What are the signs that we have not produced desired outcomes? Once we have the courage to ask these questions, we need the patience and fortitude to look at the answers honestly. To ask the above questions and begin to deal with the answers is to engage in assessment.

generation of assessment tools for students, the NCEA Assessment of Catechesis Religious Education (ACRE), is tied to the catechetical documents and the Protocol for Assessing the Conformity of Catechetical Materials with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Since faith formation in the ideal is supposed to be life-long and ongoing, the Department also launched an adult faith and spirituality self assessment survey, Information for Growth (IFG), to help Catholic adults better understand what they know, what topics they need to know more about, and how catechesis up to this point in life has shaped their attitudes and perceptions about faith life — their spirituality.

OUTCOMES AND SIGNS OF OUTCOMES To say that one cannot assess faith depends on what one means by the word assess. Assessment in catechesis is not mere testing, even when tools such as ACRE and IFG are used. Because some catechetical leaders tend to confuse assessment with testing, about which they may have very negative images from past experience (or from the

Being in the dark about what is happening in catechesis is simply not an option.

CALL FOR ASSESSMENT A post-Vatican II Catholic Church has worked vigorously to make not just the message of salvation more clear but to make the methods and delivery of that message more available to the various audiences. Catholics in general and catechetical leaders in particular have benefited from a steady stream of documents to make that so, most recently the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992), the General Directory for Catechesis (1997) and the National Directory for Catechesis (2005). It often surprises me how few catechetical leaders know that following the General Catechetical Directory (1971) the National Catechetical Directory: Sharing the Light of Faith (1978) called for formal assessment of our faith formation efforts (No. 222b). It was this call for formal assessment that led the National Catholic Education Association’s Department of Religious Education to pick up the challenge and create a series of formal religious education assessment tools for both school age children and adults. The faith content assessed in those early tools was tied to the content of the faith highlighted in the General Directory for Catechesis (GCD) and Sharing the Light of Faith. In the same way, the fourth and latest


Catechesis and Assessment | Volume 17, January 06

new No Child Left Behind initiative), they may stay as far away as possible from anything that looks to them like judging another’s faith. Here, however, my mother’s version of the adage may be appropriate: what you don’t know can hurt you. Clearly, as catechists, we are called to help others find Christ by forming the minds, hearts and habits of people of all ages engaged by catechesis. Every seasoned catechist knows there are many ways to teach faith facts beyond lecture, note taking and memorization. Note that the National Directory for Catechesis (NDC) talks of memory work as “learning by heart.” That phrase carries a wholly different connotation than mere drill or memory work such as learning the multiplication tables and calls for challenging methodologies. If learning by heart is a stated and desired outcome, then we need to find out just what both young and more mature people have taken into the heart. Those sensibilities that reside in the human heart will be made manifest on the tongue or in behavior, in any event. Assessing outcomes appropriate to faith formation along the life continuum is a kinder approach than discovering too late that the catechetical strategies used did not get us where we wanted to be in the end.


Assessment in catechesis is akin to getting a medical check-up, or using a compass to make sure we are going in the right direction. Fundamentally, it means defining the status quo or finding out where we are in relation to a plan. Here we are talking about a spiritual growth plan tied to a catechetical plan. One does not grow spiritually by accident. Such growth takes intentionality and consciousness along with grace. The kind of analysis that assessment begs is only important if there are expected outcomes for catechesis. Is there a clear sense of direction, or a “place” where you want those in your care to be in terms of faith development? What if you discover that folks don’t know the faith essentials appropriate to a certain age and stage of faith development? What if this is so even though you thought you had given them every opportunity to acquire such head and heart knowledge? What if you recognize that the people you are catechizing just do not take Catholic positions on some moral or social justice issues? What does that mean? What does it call you as catechetical leader to do?

The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) tells what signs to look for in each stage of the journey of faith appropriate to human development. Pastors, catechists, sponsors, and select members of the community all are attuned to what they are looking for in a candidate and when they can expect to see these signs. They engage in interviews, conversations and observations for the purpose of discerning readiness for next steps in the process. That is a form of assessment, pure and simple. It is conscious and labor intensive. It works well because those with responsibility for the initiatory catechesis get to know the candidates very well and spend more time than the average catechist spends with an adult or a child in other types of faith formation. Faith formation is about spiritual growth. Such growth is filled with ups and downs (mountain top experiences and dark nights) and constant assessment. When the practice of the sacrament of penance was more prominent than it is today among Catholics, the average

Assessment is not a mere exercise for its own sake.

CATECHUMENAL MODEL FOR ASSESSMENT The catechumenal model gives a clue as to how one form of assessment can work well. Throughout the process of coming to faith or coming to faith in the Roman Catholic tradition, a candidate is in constant contact with a host of people who are working in specific, intentional and multifaceted ways to create the conditions for the possibility of real conversion to Christ. There are specific methods to nurture a young or even a tentative faith.

Catholic knew what it meant to take stock often of oneself spiritually: When one is deliberately going off course, the first thing to drop is any semblance of a spiritual check-up to assess the status quo or a sense of direction in life. How do we know when we are going off course in terms of providing adequate faith formation except by engaging in some kind of real assessment? continued on page U8

You Can Purchase Copies of Catechetical Update As in the past you can order additional copies of Catechetical Update. Many of our membership find it a valuable resource for use in their ministry. To order call the NCCL office (202) 884-9753 or email Sr. Kathy Kandefer, BVM at Catechetical Update reprint costs: 1–49 copies $1.29 each, 50 or more $0.79 each (plus shipping).

© 2005 by National Conference for Catechetical Leadership




We can enter into the house of assessment by trying to identify or measure what has been assimilated by participants in our catechetical programs and to what degree. Or we can enter from another door. Since seeds must be sown carefully in order to even have a chance at bearing catechetical fruit, we can first examine our efforts instead of theirs. Asking how and when places the responsibility on our shoulders, inquiring into the depth and breadth of our own sowing. How and when are brother and sister. In embracing them, we focus on implementation rather than end results. We often talk of assessing the catechetical progress of the learner — the potential and the many challenges. We first revised ACRE (Assessment of Catechesis/Religious Education) and, for adults, the IFG (Information for Growth) in the NCEA Department of Religious Education over ten years ago. Such assessment tools, efforts, and conversation continue to evolve. We should continue exploring best practices in traditional learner-centered assessment.

PROGRAM ASSESSMENT But over the last ten years, it appears to me that there is less and less talk about program assessment. Conscious and sincere efforts at program assessment can yield immediate and deep results. This is where how and when come in. Using them as a starting point embraces a certain truth: we can control our sowing of seed much more than we can control the ground it falls upon. We can control the clarity of content and diversity of pedagogy within our programs more than we can control the receptivity of those who attend. Through the kind of program assessment that comes from how and when, one key word quickly rises to the surface: intentionality. How might our catechetical efforts be enhanced when we intentionally address certain knowledge, intentionally cultivate specific attitudes, and intentionally promote concrete behaviors? To what degree would our catechetical efforts be enhanced if we intentionally invested in the horizontal, vertical, and internal dimensions of the spiritual life? If we intentionally attended to both the personal faith and the Catholic identity of those who participate in our programs?




Assessment is only half-helpful when we gather data and leave. I’ve come to believe that intentionality is what is needed most in our catechetical efforts. Assessment is not complete until we use it to help us answer questions such as those posed by Joseph McDonald in Teaching: Making sense of an Uncertain Craft:


Catechesis and Assessment | Volume 17, January 06


Many times we are simply “shotgunning” in order to cover all the bases.

Focus on Implementation Here are some specific assessment areas that we can illuminate by asking how and when: Three dimensions of the spiritual life

Real teaching, I learned in time, happens inside a wild triangle of relations- among teacher, students, subject—and the points of the triangle shift continuously. What shall I teach amid all that I might teach? How can I grasp it myself so that my grasping might enable theirs? What are they thinking and feeling—towards me, towards each other, toward the thing I am trying to teach? How near should I come, how far of should I stay. How much clutch, how much gas? We attempt many wonderful things with in our catechesis. We honor a family perspective; we try to respect multiple intelligences; we connect catechesis and liturgy; we offer whole community experiences, interdisciplinary insights, media and technological enhancements, etc. But I’m not sure we are intentionally doing these things. I suspect that many times we are simply “shotgunning” in order to “cover all the bases”. We are sowing seeds en masse and indiscriminately instead of purposely and strategically — perhaps because someone told us this is best. Assessment takes us all the way home when it enables us to see why we need to intentionally target certain themes at this time or that, employ a certain pedagogy with this group or that, integrate a certain element here but not there, place longer emphasis on this instead of that. When it comes to program assessment, how and when are brother and sister. But the mother of all assessment is intentionality. ❙ Michael Carotta, Ed.D., is a veteran religious educator, author, researcher, and consultant. Having served in the archdioceses of Indianapolis and Louisville, Boys and Girls Town in Omaha, and the NCEA Department of Religious Education, he is now the adolescent catechetical advisor for Harcourt Religion Publishers.

© 2005 by National Conference for Catechetical Leadership

How and when are we fostering the vertical dimension of the spiritual life: helping learners build or strengthen their relationship with the transcendent God?

How and when are we fostering the horizontal dimension of the spiritual life: the loving way one treats others and lives the moral life?

How and when are we fostering the internal dimension of the spiritual life: the way one finds the spiritual resources to cope with that the emotions, anxieties, fears, hurts, joys, regrets, and issues that are inside?

Twin tasks ■

How and when are we attending to the questions, dreams, fears, and experiences that are giving birth to one’s personal faith?

How and when are we fostering Catholic identity, helping others find a home for their faith within the Catholic family?

KAB: Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors. ■

How and when are we sharing knowledge of the faith as expressed in creed, the moral life, the sacramental life of the church, prayer, justice, and the missionary presence of the church in the modern world? How and when are we helping others ‘understand,’ ‘assimilate,’ ‘comprehend,’ ‘identify,’ ‘name,’ ‘become familiar with,’ ‘recognize’?

How and when are we building Catholic Christian attitudes related to human dignity, respect for the other, the common good, and the virtue of virtue. How and when are we helping others to ‘appreciate,’ ‘give priority to,’ ‘value,’ ‘respect.’ How and when do we cultivate religious imagination in order to help each other have eyes to see and ears to hear that which makes up the kingdom ,the mystery, and the people of God.

How and when are we promoting specific Christian behaviors? How and when are we helping each other learn ‘how to’ give and forgive, pray and play, love and lose, speak up, stand up, turn the other cheek, lament, make amends, fast, give alms, give thanks, sing, search, smile, comfort the afflicted, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, bury the dead?

Self-Assessment ■

How and when can we help others identify the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors they already possess and practice — or need to grow?

How and when can we help others recognize the dominant dimensions (horizontal, vertical, internal) of their spiritual lives and attend to their least developed dimension(s)?

How and when can we, as catechists and leaders, do the same?



ASSESSMENT continued from page U3

MAKING USE OF ASSESSMENT Assessing faith formation is not akin to engaging in personal judgment! That is, strictly speaking, God’s domain alone. Assessing faith formation is ongoing and multifaceted. It may be informal and anecdotal, but that method alone is not sufficient to stay or change course when it comes to providing faith formation for groups of people. Assessment may be personal, as in the catechumenal model, but this requires defining a set of specific outcomes desired and skilled people to discern the presence of those outcomes. There is also a more formal, systematic type of assessment such as NCEA ACRE or other such psychometric tools as developed specifically for a particular diocese. What is most important is that the information from all three types is used to improve catechesis. Assessment is not a mere exercise for its own sake. It is not a tool to determine passing or failing status for students or catechists. It is a tool to help us know what is and how we may get from point A to point B on a continuum or charted course.


Catechesis and Assessment | Volume 17, January 06

What does God ask of us as catechetical leaders? To do the best we can with what we have in this time and place. In the end, we really do believe that faith is God’s to give; but we are also called to use the good sense God gave us to be intelligent and intentional about what we do, why we do it and take the time to find out when our efforts are effective and are not. ❙ Diana Dudoit Raiche is executive director of the Department of Religious Education at the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) and is responsible for the latest revisions of the NCEA ACRE and IFG. As a veteran catechetical leader, she is a frequent conference presenter on catechetical and catechumenate topics and the author of numerous articles and several catechetical resources.



ELEPHANT HUNT Vatican II Today: Calling Catholics to Holiness and Service. Judy Ball and Joan McKamey, editors. Cincinnati, Ohio: St Anthony Messenger Press, 2005. Paperback, 122 pages, $10.95. Reviewed by Brennan R. Hill


n this collection a number of authors attempt to point to the key aspects of Catholic renewal from the Second Vatican Council and show how these have affected the church over the last forty years.

Change was a key theme at the Council, and it is heartening to review the many changes that have taken place in the church over the four decades since the Council ended. Much of it we now take for granted. The church has indeed come to see itself more as a “people,” and the laity has assumed much more responsibility in the mission of the church. The church has become more active in the political, social and economic issues of the world. Many Catholics are committed to social justice and working for the poor and for peace. A number of bishops and priests value consultation and try to lead through persuasion and example, rather than through edict.

The new liturgy is much more communal and participatory, and there had been much reform in the sacramental life of the community. The Eucharist has a central place in Catholic worship, and much attention has been given to the initiation and healing sacraments. More Catholics are deeply aware of the sacramental dimension of their marriages and strive to live in partnership. Catholics have become much better acquainted with the scriptures through liturgy, prayer groups and bible study. There is a growing interest in spirituality among Catholics and interest in new forms of prayer. More Catholics now feel at home with other denominations and religions and are comfortable worshiping with those who have differing beliefs. The articles in this book originally appeared as newsletters, so they were limited by the space allowed for them. As a result, the essays often begin to pique one’s interest but there is little room for depth or critique. What this collection leaves out is an account of the tensions between traditionalists and progressives at the Council. The Vatican II documents came to be through compromise, and thus place older static views alongside of newer and more dynamic perspectives. As a result, justification has been given to those who later wanted to restore the more conservative theological perspectives and structures. While one author speaks of the reform “fading” and acknowledges that there has been a recentralizing of church authority, most of the authors give an over-optimistic view of how the reform of the church is progressing. Along with mention of the return to centralization, note might have been given to the diminishing of the authority of synods and bishops conferences, and the increasing appointment of conservative bishops. Attention could have been given to the on-going continued on page 18

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suppression of many theologians, and to the efforts on the part of the Vatican to gain control of the theology faculties throughout the world through bishops, and in this country through the use of mandates. Granted that much progress has been made in the area of social justice, especially through the efforts of John Paul II and many of our bishops, clergy and laity, mention might have been be made of the resistance that has been given to liberation theology and the lack of support offered to leaders like Archbishop Romero and many others who have fought oppression in Latin and Central America and in many other parts of the world. Somewhere in the articles the present-day church could have been challenged for not being a strong critic of the degradation of the environment. There are other significant issues that needed to be discussed at more length. The sexual abuse of children has been a scandal worldwide and has deeply affected peoples’ trust of the clergy and hierarchy. Will secrecy and top-down authority still prevail in these matters, or will church leaders be more consultative and transparent in their decisions?

Another elephant in the room is the issue of women in the church. Women’s voices, especially those of poor and oppressed women, do not seem to be getting a hearing from the official church. Women are still called on to do the majority of ministry in the church and at the same time have few opportunities for participating in the leadership of the church. The ordination of women to the diaconate, which has centuries of history behind it, has been waved aside. And the ordination of women is not supposed to be discussed: hardly a professional or mature way to deal with such an important issue. This is a fine book from which to learn the positive advances that have been made in the church since Vatican II. Recognition of the strong restorative movement in the church today would have given the essays more balance. � Brennan R. Hill, Ph.D., professor of theology at Xavier University in Cincinnati, is the author of numerous books, among them Faith, Religion & Theology: A Contemporary Introduction and 8 Spiritual Heroes: Their Search for God.

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hose of you coming to Chicago April 30 to May 4 will join the first gathering of members and friends of the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership since the publication of the National Directory for Catechesis (NDC) by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The first chapter of the NDC calls us to do our catechetical work in the light of the culture and times of those we are catechizing. This year’s conference theme — Catechesis and Culture: Challenge and Hope — decided upon months before the NDC’s publication date — brings that challenge into the heart of the NCCL.




If catechesis is an echoing of faith, the sound needs to bounce off something if its reverberation is to continue. That something is the life experience of people who are trying to make sense of who they are, and that sound is filtered through their culture. Our catechetical programming needs to employ methods and approaches that allow the truth of the Gospel to be heard and inculturated into the life styles and value systems of contemporary American culture.


Our society is pluralistic; it comprises many cultures and subcultures. We find many ethnic groupings and regional diversities in our communities. Each has its own styles and perspectives. But inculturation goes beyond ethnicity. Age groups also have their own sets of styles and values; families have varied structures and openings for faith January 2006


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development. All need to become the good soil receptive to Gospel proclamation, so Catechetical leaders need to identify needs and develop and fine-tune methods of approach and implement recommendations responding to these cultural milieus. The Gospel of Jesus is universal. All are called.

2006 ANNUAL CONFERENCE This year’s conference aims to help participants wrestle with the cultural issues, develop strategies for addressing them, and identify resources that can help implement their planning efforts. It will open with a welcome by NCCL president Anne Comeaux, followed by the opening liturgy with Richard J. Malone, Bishop of the Diocese of Portland, Maine, presiding. He will be joined by a number of the bishops from dioceses in Illinois as concelebrants.

KEYNOTERS Monday, May 1, will be an in-depth study day. Monday keynoters are Michael Paul Gallagher, SJ, and Allan Figueroa Deck, SJ. Each will present two addresses. Participants will be able to attend both presentations by one of them or attend one by each. An interactive panel discussion led by Blake Bergen will bring the two keynoters together to integrate their topics and points of view. Gallagher, on the Faculty of Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, will speak on “Culture: Faith’s Friend of Foe.” Deck, President of the Loyola Institute for Spirituality in Orange, California, will present “An Evangelizing Church: Seismic Shifts in Catechesis.” cl


Catechesis & Culture: Challenge & Hope by Frank Koob

Louise Akers, SC, keynoter on Wednesday, May 3, will speak on “Diversity’s Challenge, Call and Gifts.” Akers is the Coordinator of the Office of Peace, Justice and Integrity of Creation for the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. She has been involved in civil and women’s rights organizations in eleven countries. Akers is the former social concerns director for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, director of the Social Action Office of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and radio talk show host. Keynoter on Thursday, May 4, will be David Walsh, speaking on “The Test for the Modern Church.” Walsh is president and founder of the National Institute on Media and Family based in Minneapolis. In recent years, Walsh has become a national spokesman against violence in the media, and particularly in video games. He believes that one of the greatest challenges in contemporary culture is the atmosphere of disrespect that seems to prevail.

LEARNING SESSIONS On Tuesday and Wednesday, more than fifty breakout groups will be exploring many aspects of catechesis and culture, as well as other topics that participants may find helpful. These are scheduled over four learning sessions. Some topics will be offered more than once to give more of those interested an opportunity to attend them. Others will be offered over more than one session to allow a greater depth of topic exploration. Some are geared to persons of color or those working with specific ethnic groups. The technology room will offer a complete schedule of presentations. A special four-part seminar will be offered for diocesan directors.

ROUNDTABLES Roundtable sessions have become a tradition of NCCL conferences. A roundtable is an opportunity to take part in discussions on a myriad of catechetical issues presented by volunteers who wish to share their ideas and innovations with others. These popular sessions will be presented twice this year to enable attendees to participate in more than one. They are scheduled for lunchtime on Tuesday. Be sure to pre-order a box lunch.




The Exhibit Hall, with displays by publishers, academic institutions, and other vendors who serve catechetical communities, will open at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday and end on Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. Both Tuesday and Wednesday have lots of dedicated exhibit time built into the schedule. Some publishers and vendors will offer showcase presentations during lunch break on Monday. Showcases are an opportunity for publishers and colleges to advertise new ways to enhance religious education.






NCCL business meetings will be scattered throughout the conference schedule. These will include meetings of the Board, the Rep Council, and members-at-large. The main piece of business for members-at-large is the election of new officers. President, vice-president, secretary and treasurer will be chosen to serve the next three years, according to the NCCL by-laws. Information about the slates of candidates and the bylaws that define the officers’ roles can be found on the NCCL website. The installation of new officers, with thanks to the present officers, will take place at the closing prayer of the conference late Thursday morning.

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COME EARLY… STAY LATE! The Chicago area is itself worth it a visit. Participants are invited to see some of the Chicago sights before or after the conference and during the free evening on Tuesday. For those who like pre-planned touring, three group tours are scheduled through Chicago Travel Consultants: “Chicago’s Magnificent Mile,” “Navy Pier,” and “Millennium Park,” Chicago’s newest attraction. These seven-hour tours will start at noon on both Sunday and Thursday. The adventuresome may wish to take Chicago’s famous “el” train blue line from a station just a short walk from the hotel directly to Chicago’s downtown Loop area. This would be a perfect jump-off to shopping in the Loop area, boat rides up the river or out onto Lake Michigan to view the Chicago skyline, or to Millennium park, the Chicago Art Institute, or the renowned Museum Campus. Or you may wish to see a baseball game. The Cubs play Milwaukee in Wrigley Field at 1:20 p.m. on Sunday, April 30. The White Sox play Seattle at Cellular Field on Thursday, May 4.

PRE-CONFERENCE EVENTS Early arrivers may also wish to get in the mood with one of the preconference offerings. Both will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 30.

Mary Therese Johnson, OP, will conduct a relaxing transitioning workshop called “Moving into the Moment” to help participants move from the busyness of their lives and activities into the conference. It will include simple stretching exercises and guided imagery in a prayerful setting. Johnson is a spiritual director, Resource Coordinator for NCCV and Group Faciliator for the Hesburgh Sabbatical Program at catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Dave Durand, founder of ProBalance Inc., and author of Time Management for Catholics, will give a pre-conference presentation entitled: “Time Management for Catechetical Leaders and Perpetual Motivation.” Durand is a respected international keynote speaker, motivational coach and time management consultant who offers workshops and seminars on motivation, leadership development and balance in one’s life. Both the National Association of Catechetical Media Professionals (NACMP) and National Organization of Hispanic Catechists (NOCH) have scheduled their annual meetings for the weekend before the NCCL conference begins. Many of their members will plan to stay on for the NCCL conference.

THE HYATT REGENCY O’HARE The facilities at this world-class hotel and conference center are especially appropriate for our meeting because everything is easily accessible. Meeting and exhibit areas are convenient to hotel rooms and to each other. The hotel, located at the River Road exit from the Kennedy Expressway (I-90), offers ample parking for guests and conference attendees. The Hyatt is just a brief free shuttle ride away from O’Hare International Airport. Travelers are encouraged to book flights into O’Hare to take advantage of this convenience. ❙

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eligious education is always a collaborative endeavor involving family and parish working together to spread the Gospel. However, when an RE program is a collaboration of several parishes there are special challenges as well as real benefits in achieving the goal of our catechetical mission, proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ through the ministry of the Word.

To do just that, four parishes in Saint Paul, Minnesota have come together: the Cathedral of Saint Paul (1700 households), Assumption (1182 households), Saint Louis King of France (731 households), and Saint Mary (283 households). As the host parish, Saint Mary’s, through its leadership and its parishioners, has been called to be a welcoming community for the director of religious education, catechists, and participants in our multi-parish program. Saint Mary’s has reached out significantly on two previous occasions. In 1977 the parish initiated the first Teens Encounter Christ Youth Program in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. In 1980 St. Mary’s welcomed a small group of Hmong Catholic immigrants and their deacon, offering them space for worship, catechetical activities, and English as a Second Language classes. Funded partially by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate who served both Saint Mary’s and the Hmong Catholic Community, two very diverse communities came together to build up the Body of Christ, the church. When the Hmong community moved to a church of their own, Saint Mary’s extended a welcome to other downtown churches that did not have their own RE programs. Within the last five years our four-parish collaboration has drawn from both urban and suburban populations, bringing diversity that enriches but also makes necessary consistent efforts to build community among catechists, students, and families. We do this by meeting weekly before class with catechists, keeping class sizes small, and having periodic meetings with parents. Parish identity and connection can be somewhat tenuous and distant when RE classes take place outside one’s parish location. Calling forth leadership in each parish to view this RE program as part of their ministry requires frequent communication. The DRE tries to be visible at various times in each parish and communicates regularly with the parish by several means: reports at the beginning and end of the RE year, bulletin announcements, memos, and participation in parish ministry fairs and outreach projects. Benefits accrue when leadership from four parishes pool their expertise and resources for the good of the whole. Here dedicated catechists recruited from the four parishes provide more than enough persons to echo the message of the Gospel to our children and youth. What is lacking in one parish another may offer. The continued on page 31

Please Share the Wealth Are you in a cluster parish situation? Please share your story with NCCL. Email to

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EVANGELII NUNTIANDI continued from page 5

6) detachment (struggling with our addictions and seeking the freedom to be for others); and 7) self-sacrifice (a life of self-giving). What a challenge! Yet this is the path that Jesus calls us to follow, a path well worn by so many of our fellow Christians over the centuries.




Jesus is our brother. Through baptism we participate in the very life of God, members all of one family. Through the mystery of the Incarnation Jesus took on our human nature and made it possible to share in the divine life. It is this sense of community, of family, that Jesus invites us to share with him.


In Chapter III, “The Content of Evangelization,” we read: Evangelization will also always contain — as the foundation, center and at the same time summit of its dynamism — a clear proclamation that, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, who died and rose from the dead, salvation is offered to all men, as a gift of God’s grace and mercy. And not an immanent salvation, meeting material or even spiritual needs, restricted to the framework of temporal existence and completely identified with temporal desires, hopes, affairs and struggles, but a salvation which exceeds all these limits in order to reach fulfillment in a communion with the one and only divine Absolute: a transcendent and eschatological salvation, which indeed has its beginning in this life but which is fulfilled in eternity. (No. 27) Always we come back to that haunting question that Jesus posed to his disciples: “Who do you say I am?” The identity of Jesus — our Christology — is central to our Christian spirituality and to the work of passing on our living faith. This field of theology is vast, profound, and complex. Whether speaking of the pre-existent Son, the historical Jesus, the risen Christ, or the Mystical Body of Christ we are striving to understand and love the person of Jesus. All of us would do well to pray the great prayer of St. Richard: Thanks be to Thee, my Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which thou hast given me, for all the pains and insults which thou hast borne for me, O most merciful friend, redeemer and brother. May I see Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, and follow Thee more nearly. –St. Richard of Chichester (1197-1253) Jesus is indeed our friend. In fact, St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that grace has something to do with amacitia Dei, “friendship with God.” Spirituality is the nurturing of this friendship and that demands five big Ts — time, talk, thoughtfulness, tenderness, and trust. Catechists who are familiar with God through friendship bring to their ministry warmth, confidence, and joy that are palpable. Jesus is our redeemer. Jesus came to bring us the fullness of life (John 10:10) and accomplishes that mission by freeing us from sin and death. Herein lies our salvation: God’s merciful forgiveness. Unless spirituality deals with the dark mysteries of sin and death it will be meaningless.






Pope Paul VI writes: Such obstacles [to the work of evangelization] are also present today, and we shall limit ourself to mentioning the lack of fervor. It is all the more serious because it comes from within. It is manifested in fatigue, disenchantment, compromise, lack of interest and above all of joy and hope. We exhort all those who have the task of evangelizing, by whatever title and at whatever level, always to nourish spiritual fervor. (No. 80) Enthusiasm exists where there is hope. Of the three theological virtues — faith, hope, and charity — the one that is deeply threatened by a culture of death and violence is that of hope. There is a tendency to look to the future and to see no real possibilities, freshness, newness. This happens in every realm of life, be it political, economic, social, cultural or religious. Hope gives us fervor. It is the fire that underlies our ministry of passing on the faith with love. To sustain hope and fervor there is need for consistency in our spiritual exercises. Daily prayer, pondering the scriptures, being involved with the works of justice and mercy, personal penance — all these means keep us alive in the Spirit and enkindle a life of hope. As the Quaker Thomas Kelly writes in A Testament of Devotion: “But I am persuaded that religious people do not with sufficient seriousness count on God as an active factor in the affairs of the world. ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock,’ but too many well-intentioned people are so preoccupied with the clatter to do something for God that they don’t hear Him asking that he might do something through them.” One of the crucial elements of catechetical work and spiritual renewal is an awareness that the principal agent of ministry is the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit of Jesus and the Father that seeks to work through us with enthusiasm and deep fervor. We are not alone. Though discouragement at results are ever present, though fatigue, both physical and psychological come upon us, though the noonday devil — acedia — will have its day, yet through perseverance the work of the Lord will be accomplished even though we do not see the promised land. Hope must be supported by faith and expressed in love.




In the very first chapter of Evangelii Nuntiandi, Pope Paul VI makes it very clear what the mission of Jesus is and what is to be our central focus:

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The Kingdom of God is about four realities: truth, charity, freedom and justice.

As an evangelizer, Christ first of all proclaims a kingdom, the Kingdom of God; and this is so important that, by comparison, everything else becomes “the rest,” which is “given in addition.” Only the Kingdom therefore is absolute, and it makes everything else relative. The Lord will delight in describing in many ways the happiness of belonging to this Kingdom (a paradoxical happiness which is made up of things that the world rejects), the demands of the Kingdom and its Magna Charta, the heralds of the Kingdom, its mysteries, its children, the vigilance and fidelity demanded of whoever awaits its definitive coming. (No. 8) According to Pope John XXIII, the Kingdom of God is about four realities: truth, charity, freedom and justice. Disciples of Jesus are to be agents of these qualities and to the extent that we are, the kingdom of God is being furthered. On the other hand, when falsehood, indifference, enslavement and injustice dominate, the Kingdom of God is being thwarted. The catechetical enterprise is about the Kingdom of God, as is our spiritual renewal. Truth: The truth does set us free — the truth of God’s love and mercy, the truth of redemption from sin and death in Jesus, the truth of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Creation, redemption, sanctification — these are the truths that are central to our faith and the truths that govern our spiritual life. Charity: God is love. The perfection of love is holiness. William Blake, the metaphysical poet, got it right: “And we are put on earth a little space / That we may learn to bear the beams of love.” And, of course, once having been loved, we give love away. Catechesis is about communicating this message; spiritual renewal is about living it. Freedom: Liberation from sin and death are at the heart of the Gospel message. So many things enslave us — power, prestige, pleasure, and possessions, to name but a few. Our addictions are many and they drain our spirit. Our ministry is to call people to freedom and full responsibility. We have no fear of freedom though freedom makes great demands upon us.

Justice: The promotion and protection of rights is at the heart of a just society. Also, the fulfillment of duties and obligations allow of no exceptions. The teaching and preaching of the Gospel demands a radical concern regarding justice issues. We need but read Matthew 25 (“When I was hungry, naked, in prison …”) to understand that Jesus was concerned about justice and peace.

THE POET’S VOICE Perhaps we should give the last word regarding catechesis and spiritual renewal to a poet — and who better than Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889). His sonnet, “God’s Grandeur,” holds a wealth of theology: God’s creative power, the destructive of sin, the restoration by the Holy Spirit. It’s all about spirituality and catechesis: God’s Grandeur The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod? Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod. And for all this, nature is never spent; There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; And though the last lights off the black West went Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs — Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings. ❙ Bishop Robert Morneau is auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Green Bay. Currently, he is Diocesan Vicar for Clergy and Vicar General. Other ministries include giving retreats, writing in the areas of spirituality and poetry, and praying for the Green Bay Packers.

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CREATIVE EDGE continued from page 9

When simply overwhelmed by numbers, the parish cannot respond to people’s satisfaction and the church risks losing a lot of disgruntled families. when you are simply overwhelmed by numbers. If Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish creates a religious education program for 1,000 children and 2,000 unexpectedly register, the parish leadership must scramble to adjust. Consider further that your constituency has special characteristics. For example, your teacher corps must be able to cope with English speakers, Spanish speakers, and tons of kids who are bilingual to one degree or another. If despite its best efforts the parish cannot respond to people’s satisfaction, the church risks losing a lot of disgruntled families. Many turn to evangelical sects whose straightforward organization, doctrinal simplicity, and ample volunteers spell superior flexibility. In the past few decades, la frontera has grown a new culture and challenges the church to respond. ❙ David Suley is coordinator for research development for the USCCB Secretariat on the Home Missions.

ADOLESCENT continued from page 15

Over a decade later, in 1997, the U.S. bishops published Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry which, like the 1976 vision statement, situated catechesis within a broad view of comprehensive youth ministry and a framework of components. Catechesis and evangelization are identified as distinct components — two of eight — that must be integrated in a unified approach if the church’s ministry with young people is to be effective. Important to note in any conversation about adolescent catechesis is that the vision of catechesis set forth in the General Directory for Catechesis published the same year is broader than the description of catechesis in Renewing the Vision. This does not imply conflict. Rather, catechesis as presented in the GDC overlaps with several of Renewing the Vision’s components in addition to the one named “catechesis” including community, evangelization, leadership development and advocacy.

THE REVISED GENERAL DIRECTORY The GDC (1997) sought to rearticulate the nature and purpose of catechesis in light of texts published since the 1971 directory including Evangelii Nuntiandi (EN), Catechesi Tradendae (CT) and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). Like the GCD, it set forth a view of catechesis that goes beyond instruction. The GDC quotes Vatican II’s Christus Dominus 14, but omits the

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What is new with the GDC is greater emphasis on the role of the community and the idea that this witness is constitutive of catechesis rather than simply part of the context reference to instruction as the means of catechesis that the GCD and the NCD retained. In a significant development, the GDC draws on the 1983 Code of Canon Law (CIC) to identify two principle means of catechesis: “transmission of the Gospel message and experience of the Christian life (GDC, No. 87).” (Compare this with canon 773). The GDC says it is a problem that “catechists do not yet have a full understanding” of catechesis as “an initiation and apprenticeship in the entire Christian life” (No. 30). It presents both evangelization and catechesis as bipolar ministries of word and witness. This emphasis on the witness of the community is not a radical change, however. The earlier directories and documents recognize the importance of the community and its way of life. What is new with the GDC is greater emphasis on the role of the community and the idea that this witness is constitutive of catechesis rather than simply part of the context for effective catechesis. The GDC follows Evangelii Nuntiandi and Catechesi Tradendae in identifying catechesis as a moment in the whole process of evangelization and draws extensively from Vatican II’s Ad Gentes (AG) in its presentation. (See AG Nos. 6, 11-18.) “Evangelization” is the whole dynamic and cyclical process “for establishing and building up the Church” (GDC 47). The GDC delineates six elements in this process: 1. transforming people and cultures through love 2. bearing witness to the new way of life that characterizes Christians 3. proclaiming the Gospel and calling people to conversion 4. incorporating people into the community by means of catechesis and the sacraments 5. carrying out continuous pastoral activity aimed at strengthening communion by means of ongoing education in the faith, the sacraments, and the practice of charity 6. inspiring people to continue the mission of the church and sending them to proclaim the gospel through words and actions (see GDC 48). The same process can be viewed from the perspective of an adolescent experiencing conversion. The young person (1) comes to know love, (2) is exposed to a new way of life through relationships with Christians including peers and adults, (3) hears the Gospel and is inspired to explore its implications for his or her own life, (4) is initiated through the sacraments and catechesis, (5) participates in the life of the community including liturgy, (6) and commits to continuing the church’s mission. The perpetuation of the church depends on young people and adults progressing through these various phases and continuing the cycle. To say that catechesis is a moment in the process of evangelization

is to emphasize that it plays a role in keeping the dynamic cycle of evangelization going. It is important to recognize that catechesis is not equated with the whole of any one of the six phases articulated in the GDC. Its largest role is in phases four (as initiatory catechesis) and five (as ongoing catechesis); however, catechesis frequently must be concerned with the earliest phases in the process of evangelization. (See GDC 52 and 185.) The GDC is also noteworthy for incorporating the process of inculturation into its vision of catechesis. Pope John Paul II had used the term inculturation in the late 1970s, referring to it as a neologism. In Catechesi Tradendae, he explains that catechesis must “bring the power of the Gospel into the very heart of culture and cultures” and “seek to know these cultures…learn their most significant expressions…[and] respect their particular values and riches.” In this way, catechesis will offer cultures “knowledge of the hidden mystery and help them to bring forth from their own living tradition original expressions of Christian life, celebration and thought” (No. 53). Through the process of inculturation, catechesis will also help to enrich and purify the inhuman elements in cultures. Noteworthy is the fact that the pope mentions “modern youth” as an example of a culture or milieu (No. 53). He explains that “catechesis has a pressing obligation to speak a language suited to today’s children and young people” as well as other categories of people (No. 59). At the same time, the pope stresses that catechesis must not distort the message of the Gospel and the content of doctrine. The GDC calls inculturation one of the greatest challenges and delineates numerous tasks associated with it. (See GDC Nos. 109-110, 202-214.) The starting point for catechesis that inculturates is an analysis of the situation. The necessary analysis examines the state of catechesis, socio-cultural factors and the religious situations of the people (No. 279). This becomes the basis for creating a program of action. The GDC also presents a new framework of tasks to help guide catechesis: 1) promoting knowledge of the faith; 2) liturgical education; 3) moral formation; 4) teaching to pray; (5) education for community life; and (6) missionary initiation (GDC. No. 86). The tasks are “interdependent and develop together” (GDC, No. 87). The first four reflect the pillar structure of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a primary reference for catechesis. (See GDC Nos.119-136 which situate catechisms in relation to catechesis.) The GDC stresses that the doctrinal synthesis presented in the Catechism “does not, however, impose a predetermined configuration” to be followed in presenting catechetical content in the practice of ministry or in drawing up local catechisms (No. 122). “The selection of a particular order for presenting the message is conditioned by circumstances, and by the faith level of those to be catechized” (No. 118).

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ADOLESCENT continued from page 27

The GDC asserts that “youth catechesis must be profoundly revised and revitalized” (No. 181) and “proposed in new ways” (No. 185). The GDC also affirms the U.S. vision of youth ministry in saying that “the most successful catechesis … is given in the context of the wider pastoral care of young people, especially when it addresses the problems affecting their lives” (No. 184). Consequently, adolescent catechesis should include “analysis of situations, attention to human sciences and education, [and] the cooperation of the laity and of young people themselves” (No. 184). The GDC also identifies a difficulty that must be addressed and resolved — the “question of ‘language’ (mentality, sensibility, tastes, style, vocabulary) between young people and the church” (No. 185). It is necessary to adapt catechesis “in order to translate” Jesus’ message without betrayal “into the terms” of young people (No. 185). This work is presented by the GDC as work yet to be accomplished, presumably by local churches.

THE NATIONAL DIRECTORY The U.S. bishops’ National Directory for Catechesis is the longest of the directories and is characterized by the incorporation of material

from a large number of sources including the earlier directories, numerous U.S. bishops’ documents in addition to Renewing the Vision, papal encyclicals, Vatican II documents, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the work of the committee that oversees the use of the Catechism in this country. In the course of presenting and affirming the vision of catechesis as set forth by these many sources, the NDC incorporated a number of tensions that reflect the situation of catechesis is the United States today. These tensions point to some questions the church must grapple with as it faces the challenge of carrying out effective adolescent catechesis in the future. 1. The NDC incorporates several frameworks from earlier documents that attempt to guide catechesis. These include the four pillars in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the six tasks of catechesis in the GDC, the two means of catechesis in the Code of Canon Law and the GDC, the six phases of evangelization in Ad Gentium and the GDC, and the eight components of youth ministry in Renewing the Vision. Which are most useful for adolescent catechesis?

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The church has been telling us repeatedly since Vatican II to pay attention to context. (Renewing the Vision points out that “there are a variety of schemas for identifying the ministries of the Church” (No. 59, n.8) and roots its framework of components in Canons 528-529. This insight may be a helpful starting point for comparing the various frameworks set forth in the documents that guide adolescent catechesis.) Is it possible to integrate the most important aspects of each into a new framework that functions as a compelling, unifying vision for adolescent catechesis and other ministries? 2. The NDC emphasizes the importance of fostering a common language of the faith (see NDC Nos. 72, 86, 87, 293). Notice, for example, that NDC 72 adds this to the list of criteria for presenting the message delineated in GDC 97. The NDC emphasizes as well animating the process of inculturation (see NDC Nos. 63-67, 8283) and employing language suited to the recipients of catechesis (see NDC Nos. 186, 65, 66, 83, 87, 130). How do we balance the value of common wording with the value of translating the message into terms young people understand? At what point do either uniformity of wording or new expressions and language begin to impede the church’s efforts to make disciples? 3. Like the GDC and the Code of Canon Law, the NDC identifies two means of catechesis — the transmission of the Gospel message and the experience of Christian living. Though in several places the NDC affirms the importance of the latter means (see NDC Nos. 118, 204, 199-200), the directory as a whole gives instruction and the teaching of doctrine more attention. This is not unusual in either catechetical documents or in practice, but it raises questions. Do we tend to focus on the parts of catechesis that we can more easily define, plan, and program? Do we need to explore ways to invest more time and resources in the second means, given its widely recognized importance?

faith to younger generations and perpetuating the church and its mission in the world. One central guiding principle that the church has been giving us repeatedly since Vatican II is to pay attention to context. Adolescents must always be viewed in the context of their relationships including with family members, the Christian community, and their cultural milieu. Meanwhile catechesis must always be viewed in the context of the church’s broader pastoral ministry, whether that is named evangelization, youth ministry or something else. The challenge of adolescent catechesis does not exist in isolation from the challenge of implementing effective catechesis for adults and younger children. Nor does the challenge of adolescent catechesis exist in isolation from the challenge of showering genuine love and concern upon adolescents and inspiring young and old alike to enthusiastically witness a Christian way of life, participate fully in liturgy, and embrace the church’s mission as their own. In the right context, catechesis plays a critical role in enhancing the participation of adolescents in the life of the church. There is no doubt that tending to context adds complexity to the challenge of adolescent catechesis. Without this extra work, however, a community’s ministry of catechesis with adolescents may be more hindrance than help in the process of making young disciples. ❙ Maura Thompson Hagarty, Ph.D., a former parish youth minister and director of religious education, is a development editor at Saint Mary’s Press.

4. What is the proper role for the Catechism of the Catholic Church in adolescent catechesis? The GDC and the NDC identify it as a doctrinal point of reference. The NDC explains that catechetical materials must reflect the Catechism’s four pillars and clearly display its theological structure (No. 293) but also that the Catechism does not impose a predetermined format (No. 72). The GDC makes the point more emphatically by quoting then Cardinal Ratzinger: “The best structure for catechesis must be one which is suitable to particular concrete circumstances and cannot be established for the entire church by a common catechism” (No. 122). How do we strike the proper balance between attention to content and attention to circumstances when planning our approaches to adolescent catechesis? What are the best strategies for involving youth themselves in this discernment? These questions do not have easy answers and the tensions underlying them are real. They affect the ability of local communities to harmoniously plan and implement effective strategies for handing on the

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C AT E C H E T I C A L L E A D E R EDITOR: Joyce A. Crider

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Volume 17, Number 1



LINDA L. KAISER Linda L. Kaiser was appointed director of Catholic Education Ministries for the Diocese of St. Cloud in August 2005. She has served the St. Cloud diocese for over thirty years. Kaiser was an elementary teacher and a Catholic school principal and has worked at Catholic Education Ministries for the past twelve years as the consultant for Catholic schools. She has a masters degree and an educational specialist degree from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.



very catechetical leader has probably been told at one point or another, “You know, you can’t leave until you’ve found your replacement.”

NCCL is doing something rather bold this year to help ensure there will be the next generation of competent catechetical leaders to follow us. In an effort to attract young adults (in their 20s and 30s) to consider catechetical leadership as a possible vocation and professional career, NCCL is offering up to twenty-five “scholarships” for young adult Catholics to enable them to attend this year’s Annual Conference in Chicago. It’s a first-of-its-kind opportunity for qualifying candidates to experience the conference and further explore catechetical leadership in an exciting and affirming environment.



Have some catechetical ministry experience.

Never have engaged in professional parish/diocesan catechetical ministry (though Catholic school educators may be nominated)

Be able to incur all costs related to attendance beyond conference registration

Be nominated by their diocesan catechetical director

PARISH COLLABORATION continued from page 23

well-organized RCIA process at the Cathedral is available to candidates from the other parishes. Adult education opportunities are open to all parishes in the collaboration. Scheduled sacramental celebrations are generally well served by the priests from the four parishes. Funding is shared by all four parishes, with three of the parishes giving Saint Mary’s a flat fee (not pro-rated per family). There is also a registration fee per child. As the program continues to develop and grow, needs assessments and evaluations point out new possibilities. At present the leadership, catechists, and participants witness to the success of a four-parish collaborative format for educating the next generation of Catholic Christians in living the Gospel message. ❙

If you know someone who might make a good future catechetical leader consider discussing this with him or her. You might just be helping someone to discern God’s call into our ministry! Remember that all nominations must come from diocesan offices. The nomination deadline for this unique opportunity is February 14, 2006. Diocesan offices needing submission forms and guidelines may contact Thomas S. Quinlan, NCCL Conference Planning Committee,

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A NEW YEAR ASSESSMENT & RENEWAL by Megan Anechiarico ACROSS 1 Dispositions to be assessed 8 Theological virtue regarding belief 11 Be mentally creative 13 Three classic assessment questions 14 Med. profession 16 Shapes a young mind 17 12 mos. 19 Tel ____ 23 Greek letter 25 Christian place of renewal 28 Light brown color 29 NBC drama 30 Aboard 31 Vowels surrounding “O” 32 Existential state of renewal 33 Abbr. for invisible radiation waves 34 Thread 36 1982 Spielberg film 37 Ravine, phonetically 39 Actions to be assessed 40 Two-toed sloth 41 Hook’s sidekick 42 Exists 44 Ravioli or ziti 49 Picnic intruder 50 Three classic assessment questions 53 Profound 54 Trample

55 Cognitive understanding to be assessed















1 Systematically assess 2 Village 3 Acronym for “Try It On Monday” 4 Possible acronym for Medalists from the Ukraine at the Winter Olympics 5 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory author 6 Oh my! 7 Rests 8 Yiddish word of displeasure 9 Tavern 10 Theological virtue concerned with the future 12 Opposite of SE 15 Exact 18 Franciscan cross 19 Sibling’s denial of an accusation 20 Possible acronym for a bridesmaid in Vanuatu 21 Three peas ___ pod 22 Big picture to be assessed 24 Statements of divine reality 25 System of beliefs 26 Manners of being 27 Climate 29 Bert’s best friend 32 Most preferred – slang 35 Smash into



16 18

17 23





















39 41



44 50








53 54


37 Nickname for the Doctor of Grace 38 Divine mandate for universal renewal 43 Piece of objective information to be assessed 44 Benefit 45 One victory 46 Get away from there!

47 Possible acronym for expressing gratitude to your father’s brother Walter 48 Acronym for Academic Health Sciences Library 49 Overwhelmed 50 Romantically pursue 51 “Sixth sense” 52 Do, __ , mi

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32 January 2006


Volume 17, Number 1



October 2005 | Volume 16, Number 6


Jan 2006 - CL Magazine  

Catechesis and Spiritual Renewal