Catholic Adult Education Classes


#1

I am so excited! For the next several months, my parish is offering adult education classes on several fantastic topics, one night a week. They may last 1, 2, 3, up to 6 weeks. Some will be given by our priests, others by laymen. The classes are:

Catholic Perspectives on Life and Health, Death and Dying
concluding with a study on living wills
Biblical History
Reconciliation & Eucharist
Bible study
Unraveling the Parables
Early Church History: Post Apostolic to Constantine
An Historical Development of the Eucharist
Scripture Study
Stages of Life, Stages of Prayer
The Imitation of Christ
"All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed"
Liturgical Space: Teaching Our Faith
An Introduction to the Rosary
The Creed
Overview of the Catechism

Which would you choose to attend if you could and, if you care to, please explain why?

And, do your own parishes offer any thing like this?


#2

yes but nobody attends, I am about to give up. I am so sick and tired of wasting my time polling parishioners for classes they want, responding to calls for more bible study etc., lining up speakers and presenters, purchasing resources, scheduling space, setting up chairs, advertising, promoting and publicizing in every way imaginable and having 3 people show up for the first class, and two of them leaving because they thought it was another meeting.


#3

I would love to go to all of them but, If I could only get to go to one I would choose Early Church History.


#4

Yes - the classes meeting during RE time so parents and kids all go to RE together, then to Mass together. We have between 10-25 people show up each week. My parish is using the video series, “What Catholics Believe…” and it is wonderful. It states everything from sacraments to moral issues.


#5

we tried that, but if it is not a mandatory parent meeting, adults will not attend. I still offer the sessions, but parents will sit in the hallway and talk, read, or knit, but will not come inside to watch a video, have a cup of coffee and join the discussion. Saturday CCD is seen by most parents as a babysitting service.


#6

[quote=puzzleannie]yes but nobody attends, I am about to give up. I am so sick and tired of wasting my time polling parishioners for classes they want, responding to calls for more bible study etc., lining up speakers and presenters, purchasing resources, scheduling space, setting up chairs, advertising, promoting and publicizing in every way imaginable and having 3 people show up for the first class, and two of them leaving because they thought it was another meeting.
[/quote]

That indeed would be discouraging, PuzzleA, and as I’ve seen you mention this several times before, it has apparently left a very bad taste in your mouth. I would encourage to not give up! Personally, I’m convinced that parish directed small-group discipling is key the future of the Catholic Church in our time.

I’ve been leading small groups in our parish for a number of years and have had mixed success in participation (in a large parish like ours, to get a dozen people to show up for a directed study is considered a huge success).

Where I’ve seen the most success is where the study or talk(s) are marketed widely (bulletin, pulpit, e-mail, word of mouth,and flyer) as a “don’t miss” opportunity (“Don’t pass up this chance to learn about…”).

It also helps to have a comfortable, spacious, dependably available and well-lighted place to hold the study. If there are study materials to be used, it’s imperative to have desks or tables – the sitting in an open circle-thing just does not work for juggling Bibles and guides, and taking notes, which people should be ecouraged to do.

Above all the material must be interactive and challenging. Some people may like to sit like lumps of coal and not interact, but most people, if they are going to take the trouble to show up at one of these things want to come away with new tools and ways & means to follow up. Recommend books, pass out articles, compel them to look up Scripture citations in class, ask them TOUGH questions. Don’t water down Catholic teaching --give it to them with both barrels. In my experience, they’ll literally thank you for it, and ask for more.

I know you’ve probably tried all these things, but don’t give up. If you haven’t already I recommend you take a look at the tips and pointers found in the Protestant Navpress magazine Discipleship Journal. No matter what you think of the Navigators, you can’t argue with success and they have some great, easy to modify and implement ideas. Take what good you can find, “Catholicize” it, and you’re off and running. Good luck!


#7

[quote=Fidelis]Personally, I’m convinced that parish directed small-group discipling is key the future of the Catholic Church in our time.
[/quote]

I agree with you, but the experience at our parish (not so large) has been similar to Puzzleannie’s. It’s frustrating to see the protestant and evangelical churches around us with such vibrant adult education programs while we can’t even generate a shred of interest. Evangelicals have such an expectation for adult education, sunday school, etc. while Catholics seem to consider mass attendance to be the most they can muster (if that).

What is it about us? Why do most Catholics outgrow any interest in catechesis? I’ve always chalked it up to the fact that once confirmation is over, Catholic catechesis pretty much stops. By the time we are adults, the whole concept is so foreign in most parishes that it is almost impossible to make adult education programs work. I know these boards don’t represent the average Catholic in the pew in this regard, so I’m probably “preaching to the choir”.

Even our priest is reluctant to try anything because participation is so dismal, even with tons of promotion. It is very frustrating. :frowning:


#8

[quote=Karen1996]I am so excited! For the next several months, my parish is offering adult education classes on several fantastic topics, one night a week. They may last 1, 2, 3, up to 6 weeks. Some will be given by our priests, others by laymen. The classes are:

Catholic Perspectives on Life and Health, Death and Dying
concluding with a study on living wills
Biblical History
Reconciliation & Eucharist
Bible study
Unraveling the Parables
Early Church History: Post Apostolic to Constantine
An Historical Development of the Eucharist
Scripture Study, Stages of Life, Stages of Prayer
The Imitation of Christ
"All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed"
Liturgical Space: Teaching Our Faith
An Introduction to the Rosary
The Creed
Overview of the Catechism

Which would you choose to attend if you could and, if you care to, please explain why?

And, do your own parishes offer any thing like this?
[/quote]

That sounds wonderful. I wish our parish would be so lucky.
Can I come? Louisiana isn’t THAT far from Ohio, is it? :wink:


#9

I moved away from a very involved parish to a very small rural area with one priest who has to travel to two Churches!

I will pray that we have to re-locate to Ohio…it is a possibility…my husbands Corporate office is in Ohio…he has warned me that it could happen (with dread in his heart)…secretly I am hoping! Plus…it never snows here…I love snow :frowning:

Recently, I was listening to Catholic radio, and heard my old parish had a women of grace conference! I heard Johnette Bencovich (sp.) bragging about how great my old parish was…I was like yeah…it was :frowning:


#10

Sigh we had a priest who used to teach classes but the bishop moved him. So we don’t have classes anymore. He would teach classes on the papal encyclacals (sp) all the way to a four week class refuting the DaVinci Code before there were any books circulating around debunking the book. I guess I’ll look into CDU.


#11

[quote=OhioBob]What is it about us? Why do most Catholics outgrow any interest in catechesis? I’ve always chalked it up to the fact that once confirmation is over, Catholic catechesis pretty much stops. By the time we are adults, the whole concept is so foreign in most parishes that it is almost impossible to make adult education programs work…Even our priest is reluctant to try anything because participation is so dismal, even with tons of promotion. It is very frustrating. :frowning:
[/quote]

I think the big reason evangelical churches excel at this is **because of their willingness to recruit, train, and empower lay volunteers to lead these groups. ** If the priest (or DRE, or Pastoral Associate, or Deacon, etc) is the only one whoever does this, it often turns to a source of frustration. These people are already strapped for time, and if something doesn’t seem to be working, they give up it up because they have better things to do than sit in an empty room. Also, when you restrict leadership of small groups to these select few, it restricts the times and places they can be offered, which decreases participant interest. A vicious circle.

Catholic Answers in this their magazine This Rock ran an article a few months ago about reaching out to Hispanics. One of the points the writer made was that, since there aren’t a lot of Spanish speakers with advanced degrees and catechetical certification, parishes should concentrate on training able lay volunteer ministers to lead small groups and other ministries, otherwise the job wouldn’t get done. I think that is a solution that would work not only for Hispanics, but for all parishes. It doesn’t take a degree or certification to lead a small group, just enthusiasm— and training and oversight by parish authorities.

Sometimes, parishes will buy into some boxed program like Renew or MOMs or an outside group like the Neocatechumenal Way. But unless some regular oversight is exacted on these groups, they tend to go out of control, start teaching unorthodox things, and their connection with the parish, correctly, ends up being disolved.

This is where I think the problem lies: There is this notion in the Church that you have to have a title or degree to teach the simplest subjects. Sometimes it is a control issue, that as professional Church people, we know best. As a result, either parish staffers get burned out trying to do it all, or they give up trying. What they need to do is recruit and mentor lay volunteer leaders, give them training, materials, guidance, and REGULAR OVERSIGHT. This can be done through initial training, then regular mandated training and conferences. It may take some work to set something like this up, but it is easier than doing it all, and way better than throwing in the towell.

Again, I think that parish based small-group discipling is the future of the Church. There are lots of succesful Evangelical models out there that we shouldn’t be too proud to modifiy and emulate. With God ALL things are possible.


#12

[quote=OhioBob]That sounds wonderful. I wish our parish would be so lucky.
Can I come? Louisiana isn’t THAT far from Ohio, is it? :wink:
[/quote]

Sure, come on down!


#13

[quote=puzzleannie]yes but nobody attends, I am about to give up. I am so sick and tired of wasting my time polling parishioners for classes they want, responding to calls for more bible study etc., lining up speakers and presenters, purchasing resources, scheduling space, setting up chairs, advertising, promoting and publicizing in every way imaginable and having 3 people show up for the first class, and two of them leaving because they thought it was another meeting.
[/quote]

Don’t give up! I’ve been doing the same for the last 10 years. I have adopted the attitude that I will teach no matter if it’s 30 or 3. We also met for dinner and Catholic discussion at a local eating place. Many people would come up and make positive comments about what they overheard. Sometimes we would have 8 or 10 other nights I would have dinner alone and leave after an hour, only to have 8 show up the next week!


#14

[quote=OhioBob]I agree with you, but the experience at our parish (not so large) has been similar to Puzzleannie’s. It’s frustrating to see the protestant and evangelical churches around us with such vibrant adult education programs while we can’t even generate a shred of interest. Evangelicals have such an expectation for adult education, sunday school, etc. while Catholics seem to consider mass attendance to be the most they can muster (if that).

What is it about us? Why do most Catholics outgrow any interest in catechesis? I’ve always chalked it up to the fact that once confirmation is over, Catholic catechesis pretty much stops. By the time we are adults, the whole concept is so foreign in most parishes that it is almost impossible to make adult education programs work. I know these boards don’t represent the average Catholic in the pew in this regard, so I’m probably “preaching to the choir”.

Even our priest is reluctant to try anything because participation is so dismal, even with tons of promotion. It is very frustrating. :frowning:
[/quote]

I can attest to this as well. Most of my family is Catholic of the ‘we usually go to Mass - so everything’s ok variety’. I have had my mother-in-law tell me that she believes in reincarnation, every family member that I’ve asked has denied the existence of Purgatory. None say the rosary, go to confession, or attend Eucharistic Adoration. They receive communion, received first reconciliation (for most of them this was also last reconciliation as well), and were confirmed and married in the Church. Attendance on Holy Days of Obligation is virtuially non-existent with the possible exception of Ash Wednesday. None talk about Jesus openly, I can’t judge another’s heart and won’t try. However, there is a marked contrast between my Catholilc friends and Family and the “born again” Christians I have met and am friends with.

The parish that I used to attend appeared no more enthusiastic or committed either. They never had a regular Bible study or any other adult education. The expectation was that ‘you knew what to do’. In fact, I believe that that represents the biggest ‘problem’ for lay Catholics; the belief that if I’m ‘usually’ going to church and receiving communion and I got baptized and confirmed and married in the ‘Church’ then I’m ok.

Sorry if I wandered off-topic, just some of what I’ve experienced.

Peace,
Richard


#15

[quote=Richard_Hurtz]They receive communion, received first reconciliation (for most of them this was also last reconciliation as well),…
[/quote]

:rotfl: I know quite a few of those also. In fact, I was one of them for a loooooong time. :wink:


#16

[quote=puzzleannie]we tried that, but if it is not a mandatory parent meeting, adults will not attend. I still offer the sessions, but parents will sit in the hallway and talk, read, or knit, but will not come inside to watch a video, have a cup of coffee and join the discussion. Saturday CCD is seen by most parents as a babysitting service.
[/quote]

We have our Religious Education classes on Sunday mornings between our two services. Since we meet at an elementary school the lobby is my office. I have a couple lobby vultures, but I’m working on them. At least they aren’t grocery shopping.

Also, if you try meeting during the same time, tell parents they are not permitted to “hang-out” as this could be a security factor. They could join the class if they would like to stay or wait in their cars or if you are really nice, just have a fellowship room :slight_smile:


#17

[quote=puzzleannie]we tried that, but if it is not a mandatory parent meeting, adults will not attend. I still offer the sessions, but parents will sit in the hallway and talk, read, or knit, but will not come inside to watch a video, have a cup of coffee and join the discussion. Saturday CCD is seen by most parents as a babysitting service.
[/quote]

If you weren’t in TX, I’d think my DRE wrote this. We’re trying to implement a program that gets the parents in their kids’ classes one evening a month–they’re to spend half the time with us in class and the other half with her in a small group study (we’re a small/med. sized parish–I only have 6 kids in my 3rd grade class). Wed. was supposed to be the first night–none of my parents came. It was really sad, I thought. I understand that people are busy, but we’re talking one hour and fifteen minutes out of their week. They drop their kids off, but don’t stay, I just don’t understand!

Back on track with the OP–we have classes on a fairly regular basis. But, it tends to be the same people showing up for them, and, this isn’t surprising, many of those who come are PSR teachers. I’ve really enjoyed the experience.

If I had the chance to take your classes–my first choices would be the rosary, the Imitation of Christ, and the church history courses.


#18

[quote=ProudArmyWife] if you are really nice, just have a fellowship room :slight_smile:
[/quote]

not possible, we meet in the school, no extra room, we are not allowed to use the parish hall and kitchen during the school year. they can’t wait in cars either, traffic jams and very small parking lot. We have tried every combination of day and time, just cannot attract adults, parents or otherwise, it is like pulling teeth to get the catechists to mandatory meetings and formation sessions.

I agree whole heartedly that small groups, whether for faith-sharing, discipleship or bible study, is the way to go, but we can’t even get people to commit to facilitator training. We have the programs, materials, resources and space-just no participants. this is the most non-involved parish I have every belonged to. However, I must point out small faith sharing groups and communidades de bases are NOT adult education.


#19

[quote=OhioBob]:rotfl: I know quite a few of those also. In fact, I was one of them for a loooooong time. :wink:
[/quote]

What changed it for you?


#20

Any of those topics would appeal to me. My participation would be conditional on if I had babysitting and the kids had activities.

After my initial return to the Church, it was attending a Familia day of reflection at my parish that started my journey to true Catechesis and joy. The familia group that hosted it at my parish was invited by the pastor who wanted the group to begin at our parish. I was the only one from our parish who attended (I brought a friend from another parish with me). There were about 10 Familia women from the ongoing parishes. I don’t know if the women who put it on were disappointed at the turnout, but it was life changing for me. In addition, months later, I helped start the Familia program at our parish–it too was life changing for several participants.

I think our focus should be doing the will of God and let Him take care of the fruit. If you put on a great program and a hundred come, but no life is changed, then it is not as successful as a great program with the attendance of one that changes that life.

I trully think that day of reflection was a blessing for the women who put it on, but it was intended for me. Would God inconvenience a dozen people to have an effect on one? You betcha.

I thank God for those Catholics who allow themselves to used to minister to other Catholics. Your glory will be great in Heaven.


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