Adult Education

What are some adult education tools that your Parish uses to teach catechism to adults who are not in the RCIA program? Our Parish is doing a group study of “33 Days to Morning Glory” to end in Marian consecration. We are also doing an adult education series on the book “Rediscovering Catholicism.” Now we are hungry for more adult education and learning more about and deepening our faith. We are looking for more ideas for the future. Any ideas will be presented to our pastor before we embark upon a new learning journey.

How deep do you want the material to be? If it is fairly light and easy, the Why Catholic program might suffice, but I am serious when I say it is light and easy. If you are looking for something deeper, perhaps you could consider working through something like the Fundamental of Catholicism series, by Fr. Baker, SJ?

I hope that is somewhat helpful.


Thank you. That looks wonderful! After Marian Consecration, I think we’re ready for some deep materials. How do these lend themselves to group study? From this experience, our group would like to continue to meet and learn in a community. We have several groups learning at different times in our Parish now, and would like to continue that format.

My impression is that they are written as sort of a deeper Catechism with a focus on the theological and historical underpinnings of what we believe. In that sense, if people were motivated and did the requisite reading, I think it would serve quite well like any good textbook would serve where the students took the time to read it before coming to class. If people are not motivated or might get burned out easily, they will probably not serve well at all.

I recommend two resources: the Bible and the Catechism. I realize that that sounds “radical” - to not go to an established program - but why not be radical (the word meaning “to the roots”)? In my parish we alternate week to week between the Catechism and Scripture. Presently, we are working our way through the Morals part of the Catechism, and the Gospel of Mark on alternate weeks; we meet on Sunday afternoon 2-3 PM. The “program” is simple: read some out loud, then discuss.

I set up this with the intention to open up the primary sources directly to adult Catholics. We all need to know that we can read the Bible ourselves! We don’t need to be spoon-fed by an expert on a DVD and/or a Workbook. We can read the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church for ourselves! We don’t need an interpreted or licensed guide - we need to learn how to read, how to learn, how to listen, how to follow references, how to think, how to pray. We need to be responsible Catholic adults.

Unfortunately, I have to disagree slightly. When it comes to the Bible, we most certainly do need an interpreted guide. That is not to say that we cannot or should not read the Bible ourselves, but we have a Church to provide authentic interpretation for us. Unless there is someone very learned in Catholic interpretation of Sacred Scripture guiding the discussion, people reading the Bible and then discussing it in a group setting, to me, sounds like it could be opening things up to private interpretation. However, if a priest or very learned catechist was going to be in the room, I would agree that this is a good idea.

When it comes to the Catechism however, I agree with you completely. Having said that, many feel, myself included, that the CCC is written in a style which is at times ambiguous and open to interpretation. This probably stems from the fact that it was not originally written in English and that it was primarily geared towards the development of country specific catechisms and as a norm for the Bishops (though the laity have certainly been encouraged to read it by the Church as well).

The reason that I recommended the series by Fr. Baker above, is that I believe it actually goes deeper than the CCC, but is also more clearly written at the same time. If the OP wants something at the same depth as the CCC, but which is more clearly written, I would also recommend Fr. Hardon’s excellent Catechism, which does an excellent job of placing Vatican II into the Sacred Tradition of the Church.

Please understand, I am not accusing you of stating otherwise, but I was certainly not attempting to dilute anything.

Peace of Christ,

Of course, we could all just use this…


Show Fr Barron’s Catholicism and get the study guide to go with it. After watching each episode break into small groups and discuss the questions. It’s a wonderful series. We had over 100 people show up each week.

Thank you for all the suggestions. For all the studies and education our parish is doing, our priest prefers to have someone guide us. He, himself, teaches the adult education class, and we are using a program for Marian Consecration. That way we have the correct teaching from the Church and no wiggle room. We have multiple groups, at least 5 of them, so he cannot oversee all our discussions and insure that we’re not deviating from catechism because it feels better for us. As much as I love to read the catechism and the Bible, it makes lots of sense to me that we need to be reigned in by an expert, either in the form of the priest in person or a video/recording if he cannot be present. Maybe we could have him make his own video? Actually, now that I think of it, he could lead one group and videotape the session to play for the rest.

I think it comes down to the depth you are looking for. Fr. Barron’s series is excellent, but if your people are already well formed, then it might not provide too much in terms of the theology behind the teachings that they don’t already know.

If they are willing to go deeper and will actually bother to read material, I second my recommendation of the Fundamentals of Catholicism above. Even though it says “fundamentals” there is a good bit of depth there, and is clearly written, particularly when compared to the CCC.

You might consider asking if the parish would pay for a copy of the series so that you and the pastor could evaluate if it is something which would work for you. Perhaps you can find a used copy on Amazon or E-bay.

Peace of Christ,

A good but expensive series is:

The catholicism series of movies:

A simple way would be to dedicate one page of your weekly church bulletin to catechesis.

Just take a different topic each week.

Keep it simple and easy to read.

For example, one of the sacraments, prophesies in the Old Testiment point to Jesus, what the church teaches on Genesis, moral issues, prayer, individual saints, different information on the bible, Book reports on spiritual books, religious objects, devotions, mass, …

Could ask parishioners for subjects they want explained.

Some could be 2-5 issues on one subject if needed.

Make them so that parishioners could put them in a binder so they could make a book for later reference.

At the end of the year, give out a simple index of topics treated.

Just a thought.

We often have a encyclical looked at over a period of weeks- one person acts as leader (we have multiple people with deg. in theology who usually do that).

In my parish, we have done some of the Little Rock bible studies. I think they are informative in a small group setting.

There is some good stuff in the Little Rock study Bible (LRSB), but unfortunately, there is some concerning stuff as well. One of the first things which comes to mind is the embracing of Protestant Biblical scholarship which developed in the 19th and 20th century which does things like disputing Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, while the Catholic Church has repeatedly in her Tradition upheld that it was Moses who wrote these books. We can see the same thing where the LRSB states that the author of the Gospel According to Matthew is unknown. Disputing the authorship of this part of Sacred Scripture, is also a product of Protestant scholarship of the 19-20th century.

Unfortunately, it relies far too heavily on Historical-Critical commentary. While this is a necessary and valid approach, the Church has called for this to be used in balance with other forms of Bible interpretation. In addition, some of the theologians consulted for the commentary are open dissenters when it comes to Church teaching. I will not say which at this time, but it can easily be found with some basic searching.

Because of these, and other, issues, I could not in good conscience recommend the Little Rock Study Bible for anyone, let alone a parish Catechetical program.

The Ignatius Study Bible, Navarre series, the Catholic Scripture Study International series and Study Bible, and the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series are more reliable and faithful commentaries which would be wonderful for any Catholic.

I’m not trying to be that guy or anything, but I figure you might want to know these things.

Many Catholic biblical scholars also dispute Mosaic authorship as well as defining the actual authors of the Gospels. The historical/critical method is accepted in Catholic scholarship. In no way does disputing authorship affect the content of the scriptures nor the truths that they teach. We are not bound by the Church to believe that Moses wrote the first five books of the bible or that Matthew wrote all or any of the Gospel of Matthew. We know that there were three Isaiah’s, that the Gospel of John is written in a completely different style and dialect of Greek than the letters of John or Revelation, and that some of the epistles attributed to Paul were not written by him but by a disciple of his. Does it really matter who wrote it? What does matter is that it is inspired by the Holy Spirit. Also, there are some very fine Protestant biblical scholars and many Catholic scholars have studied them.

Yes, there are fine protestant Biblical scholars. There are also lousy ones who had an agenda. In addition, yes there are Catholic Biblical scholars who have questioned this. If you look carefully, you will probably note that they start after a particular group of Protestant scholars in the years leading up to WWII.

This is a seminar class on the Pentateuch. It is expensive, but he spends a great deal of time talking about the Church’s position on Sacred Authorship, what it entails, and what it means as well as where the idea of non-mosaic authorship really got traction, and why. It is impeccably researched and well presented.

And finally yes, the Historical-Critical method has value. I would not suggest otherwise. However, Pope Benedict has repeatedly called for this method to be balanced with what he referred to as a “theological hermeneutic” approach, which takes a similar approach to the Sacred Texts as the Church Fathers did. This approach assumes the validity of authorship and instead focuses on the spiritual, doctrinal, and theological Tradition. The Little Rock Study Bible, in my opinion, has very little of this approach and focuses very heavily on the historical-critical approach, which is primarily focused on what the intent of the human author was at the time, and grounding the scripture in history. This is again, important, but needs to be done in a responsible manner so that it does not overshadow the focus of the Divine Author, and what His intent was. A Study Bible, such as this, not written for scholars, but for the Laity, should seek an appropriate balance but in my opinion, does not seek it, nor achieve it. You are of course, free to disagree.

I have and love the LRCSB and also like their Scripture Study Series. I actually use it for personal study, but might use it for a group one day. I have the LRCSB for the Historical-Critical method approach, and go directly to the Patristic teachings/writings themselves for the Theological-Hermeneutic approach, which I thoroughly enjoy.

I do not focus solely on one approach alone, especially the Historical-Critical approach. But one thing is for certain, I make sure it stays within doctrinal teachings as per the Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat.

I do not delve into Protestant writings.

Verbum Domini

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