© 2015-2019 by Fr. Bernabe Millan J. Sajonas

            Adult Catechesis is an important ministry in the life of the Church. It is actually difficult to define what adult catechesis implies for it embraces a wide range of aspects from economic to religious dimension of human life. Nevertheless, it is possible to verbalize principles and guidelines for adult catechesis. This endeavor of catechesis of adults draws from the inspiration, joy and courage from the life of Jesus as revealed in the Sacred Scripture. Jesus as an adult started his public ministry and the proclamation of the Kingdom of God. Adults in the Church means all men and women, clergy, lay faithful and religious people who have a right and obligation to catechize, keeping in mind the proper and solid Catholic formation in faith, which encompasses different facets of the life of the Church. Indeed, catechesis is itself a right of an adult to be catechized but it is also a responsibility to be taught to others on the basis of one’s daily activities or communal sphere.

            Due to adult catechesis’ complexity, it is impossible to discuss all the dimensions of adult catechesis and there are many methods to approach this broad topic. However, it is important to set out some principles and guidelines. In this work, the document “Adult Catechesis in the Christian Community” is the resource and the endeavor is to summarize the document. It is therefore recommended to read the document for a clearer instruction on adult catechesis. Catechesis is one moment in the total process of evangelization. It means to help the mature Christian to live as an adult by acquiring certain qualities that can be summarized in an attitude of constant conversion to the Lord.

 

Goals of Adult Catechesis

  1. Faith life of the adult (personal goal)

  2. Adult’s public role in society and ecclesial communities

  3. The good of the Church

  4. The greater glory of God

 

Challenges of Adult Catechesis

  1. Poverty: It prevents the poor from being evangelized because of not having access to religious formation to train catechists who are going to teach believers.

  2. Secularization: There are great changes in culture and customs resulting to repercussions on the organization of life and availability of time of the people.

  3. Other religions or value system:  Sometimes believers find themselves in other countries where Christianity is a minority and resources are lacking. These factors of other religions and different value system make catechesis difficult because of reigning ideology contrary to Christian faith and morals or religious gatherings are not allowed.

  4. Technological development: Technology itself is not bad but it can pose problems such as teaching wrong values or twisting objective truths.

  5. A down to earth language of catechism, comprehensible to adults of all levels.

  6. Accessibility of adult catechesis, which means venues for un-churched or un-informed adults.

  7. A wider variety of catechetical approaches suitable to local and cultural needs of the people.

  8. Popular religiosity of the people, in its content and expression, should prudently reflect the Gospel.

  9. A consistent effort to reach all adults especially the un-churched, un-informed, alienated, marginalized to form good, holy and informed believers.

  10. An adult catechesis not only rooted in knowledge and teachings but an adult catechesis embedded in the every day reality of life so as to become a way of living.

 

Categories of Adults

  1. Adults from other religions, Christian Churches and sects

  2. Adults who were baptized as infants but not practicing, also the fallen away from faith

  3. Adults who were baptized but un-informed or not catechized correctly

  4. Adults who were baptized but not continually followed up

  5. Adult Christian believers

 

Criteria, which support an effective and valid catechesis of adults

  1. Men and women insofar as they are adults, addressing their adult situations sensitive to the challenges, experiences and problems of adult life.

  2. Adult catechesis recognizing and appreciating the secular milieu that leads adults to seek the reign of God in temporal affairs, putting them into relationship with God, thus, adult catechesis embraces the vast and complicated world of politics, society, economics, world culture, sciences, arts, international life, mass media, human love, the family, education of children, education of adolescents, professional work, suffering and marginalized.

  3. Involvement of the community is important in the process of adult catechesis

  4. Adult catechesis is integrated within the overall pastoral plan of local Church communities with special attention with liturgical formation and formation in Christian service

 

Process of Adult Catechesis

  1. The catechesis of adults should deepen the faith received at baptism, helping individuals all life long to grow into full maturity of Christ. Catechesis is distinguished from other activities such as evangelization (proclamation of the Gospel for the first time to those who have not heard it or the re-evangelization of those who have forgotten it), formal religious education (basic elements of faith in more systematic and specialized courses), and informal occasions for faith awareness in God’s presence (fragmentary and incidental ways in the daily life of adults).

  2. Though catechesis of adults is differentiated from those activities mentioned above, adult catechesis remains closely related to all the above aspects of faith development because adult catechesis expresses the reality of God’s message (Kergyma) mindful of concrete human situations and understandable language of the people based on culture and customs. Another is that adult catechesis springs from the heart of doctrinal content of our Catholic faith, presenting fundamental beliefs of the creed, which relates to real life experiences of the people, thus, creating a faith mentality. Finally, adult catechesis summons a structured and organized faith journey, which is expressed and sustained by listening to the Word of God, celebration (liturgy), charitable service (diakonia) and forthright witness in the various situations of life.

 

Goals for Mature Christians

  1. The need to build adult Christian communities, expressing clear faith identity, centered on a clear Gospel proclamation, meaningful celebration of the liturgy and courageous witness in charity.

  2. Adult catechesis aims at bringing to fruition a conscious and firm decision to live the gift and choice of faith through membership in the Christian community.

  3. Adult catechesis aims to make one more willing and able Christian disciple in the world or even aims to make one a missionary.

 

Characteristics of an Adult Christian

  1. Obedient listening to the Word of God

  2. Communion with the faith community

  3. Service of charity and witness in the world

 

The Catechetical Journey

  1. A basic understanding of the Church’s faith, presented in a sufficiently organic way together with the reasons for believing. It draws from the teachings, tradition and Scripture. 

  2. An appropriate assimilation of the theological and cultural heritage in which faith is expressed.

  3. The capacity of Christian discernment in various situations such us ethical principles, human life, dignity of the person, justice and different religions or ways of life.

  4. The acquisition of those skills and abilities, which allow the adult believer to carry out his Christian witness in the most diverse circumstances, in the community and in society.

 

The Contents of Adult Catechesis

  1. Great themes of the Christian religion- faith and reasons for believing- doctrines

  2. Ethical implications- knowledge of the truths of the Gospel and the Church’s duty to enlighten and educate the moral conscience

  3. Socio-cultural order- relevant issues in the world, affirming what is good and pointing out what is harmful and contrary to the Gospel

  4. Introduction to the reading and use of Sacred Scripture- importance of the Sacred Scripture in the private and communal spheres of life but also in the expressions of liturgy and prayer

  5. Many questions that deal with difficulties and doubts which arise in the human heart- answers should be rooted in the Bible and in concrete historical life, respectful of reason and attentive to the signs of the times

  6. Value and dignity as human beings

  7. Solid formation in a spirituality suitable for all levels of adults with sensitivity for the Christian laity

  8. An ecumenical outlook – open to confronting and entering into dialogues with the great religions and with those attitudes, theories and practices which constantly seek to attract adults

  9. Communicate the contents of faith to others- important contributions of adults showing the impact of faith have on their lives and on the world around them

  10.   Communitarian dimension of the contents of faith- it will bring adults to come to know and experience the “mystery of the Church”

 

Methodological Considerations

  1. Reaching the marginalized- the disabled, immigrants, the elderly, the sick, refugees, nomads, prisoners

  2. Accepting adults where they are- mindful of the cultural background, human and religious needs, their expectations, faith experiences, and their potential, marital status, way of living, professional status

  3. Dialogical approach- engaging in an open and cordial dialogue

  4. A good pastoral plan

  5. The participation of the Christian community

  6. The creation of positive experiences

  7. Systematic and organic program or journey

  8. Common elements of the programs- communion centered on the word, participation in the liturgy, charitable service and attentiveness to the Church’s life

  9. Forms of adult catechesis- aim at families (couples, parents), student groups, parish organizations or other associations (Knights of Columbus, Catholic Women’s League, Legion of Mary), groups gather on occasions (preparation for the sacraments, funerals, popular feast days), gatherings of the elderly

  10. Parish formation with personal approach and sensitivity to solid Christian formation of the lay faithful

  11.  Small communities of adults (basic Christian communities) – praying, biblical study groups

  12. Various movements and associations- different approaches in forming members but keeping in mind that themselves are not the only valid ones and they serve in the greater ecclesial communion

  13. Adult catechisms approved by the proper ecclesiastical authority

  14. Proper use of mass media to catechize adults

 

Example of Catechesis

Catechumenal Model (RCIA)

  1. Pre-catechumenate- conversion of adults by presenting them with the kerygma or first proclamation of the Gospel

  2. Catechumenate- shapes adults in the basic components of the Catholic faith, summed up in the Creed, the liturgical celebration and Christian living

  3. Mystagogy – deepen knowledge of Christian doctrine and build on the basic catechesis already received

 

The Identity and Formation of the Catechist of Adults

Fundamental Requirements

  1. Adult faith, capable of supporting, leading other adults on their journey of growth in the faith

  2. Stability and living the Christian faith as a member of the ecclesial community- personal witness, professional competence, ability to sustain a catechetical journey with others

  3. Wise insight- goes beyond the interpretation of the texts to a deep grasp of vital issues and contemporary problems and critically interpret present day events and the signs of the times

  4. Ability to listen and dialogue

  5. Ability to encourage and reassure

  6. Ability to form relationships

  7. Ability to work in teams and build community

 

Plurality in the Types of Catechists

  1. Catechists (clergy and religious) involved with families, persons or groups with particular needs such as the disabled, the poor, the marginalized and those in irregular situations

  2. Lay catechists of adults who can be men and women, singles and married couples involved in assisting the Christian communities

 

Formation

  1. The initial formation program followed by continuing education- solid theological, anthropological and cultural preparation

  2. Formation is at once and the same time theoretical and practical, intellectual and spiritual directed on the development of interpersonal relationships, and a community-oriented attitude

  3. Formations approved by the local Church