Help with starting an adult apologetics program

I attended our first Pastoral council meeting last night. We need to set a new agenda, lay out a plan for our parish for the coming years. General concensus is that we would like to start an adult apologetics/adult education program in our parish. Not RCIA we have that. More on the line of Catholic answers. Our director of outreach ministries stated she gets a lot of questions from the “average pew sitter” about very basic catholic doctrine and beliefs. We’d like to help out parishioners who have fallen away family members answer questions, and be able to reply to these “fallen aways” with solid catholic answers. Just throwing a round a few ideas last night, maybe a question and answer forum where our pastor or associate could field questions, small groups, large group???Anybody have anything like this going on in their parish? Any and all suggestions will be appreciated, links would be appreciated. Thank you in advance. God Bless.

I have several sets of cd’s, tapes, books that could be used for such a program outline. However I would suggest that you hold a series of Question and Answer sessions first, one during the week each week and one on the weekend each week for 4 weeks. See what kinds of questions come out.

My experience is that people often have questions about “controversial” moral questions: embryonic stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, contraception, abortion, euthanasia, etc. And then they usually have questions that are more on the periphery of doctrine: why do we genuflect, what is holy water for, etc. Then there are more difficult doctrinal questions (difficult in the minds of the questioners): women priests, homosexual “marriage”, divorce and annulments, etc.

So, one way to approach this would be to advertise a talk and discussion about a “controversial” topic. That’s the initial draw. Just advertising a series on apologetics may not attract people, often enough, because they don’t know enough to realize what they don’t know. So there has to be a hook. If the presentation is solid and meaty, and the discussion is deep, then word of mouth will bring more people.

One could determine all the topics ahead of time, and advertise them up front, or one could have a question and answer box, or simply take suggestions from participants for the next session’s topic. There are many ways to do it.

I also suggest having a good supply of handouts for each topic–people need something to take home for further study. Also, a warm and welcoming environment, refreshments and coffee, etc., go a long way in bringing people and keeping them. God will use whatever crack there is to get His foot in the door!

One format that I find that works is the following: presentation by a speaker, followed by either questions and answers, or else small group discussion followed by reporting back to the large group what the small groups discussed. Deep and probing questions, both for understanding and for personal application, are essential.

If you can’t get a speaker, then a video series can be good–but this lacks the dynamism of a live speaker. Still, if videos are used, a period for Q&A and small group discussion are definitely needed. Many such series are available. Two that come to mind are Scott Hahn’s “Answers to Common Objections”, or else, on a different tack, Fr. John Corapi’s 48-part series on the Catechism. I also recommend Ignatius Press, Our Sunday Visitor, etc. where you can find more resources. Hope this helps.

Yes, I will deffinately be expressing my opinion that we should have a question and answer session(s).I agree that we need a hook. I’m trying hard not to think of only myself and the questions I have been posed but mainly what I am hoping will be questions that Average Joe catholic is pondering. JW, I also agree that speakers are much more attractive than videos, but probably will have to use them also. I love Scott and Kimberly Hahn, I think that they are two of todays leaders in apologetics, I have many of his books and have referred to his website and checked out the free mp3’s on answers to common objections. I do also think that he can be a little deep for some folks, but his holding to truths of catholic doctrine is what attracts me the most to his type of apologetics. Our pastor is open to all suggestions. We are, after all, thereto help him in making decisions for our parish on pastoral responsibilities. I am hesitant and excited all at the same time. Our parish just received a large grant from Our Sunday Visitor for outreach programs, we anticipate a great return on “their” investment with us. I spoke with a parishioner who belongs to a RENEW group in our parish. She and her husband have been hosting their meetings for about 15 years, I’m hoping to get a lot of good input from them also. We’ve been working through some difficult issues in our parish over the last 5 years. We had a closure of a very loved parish and catholic school (the school and parish were across the street from were I grew up) a consolidation of three parishes into one. We’ve just completed a five year capital campaign where we raised 5.7 million dollars from about 1000 families in our parish, and our new school and campus and social gathering space will be rededicated in Oct. by our Bishop (this was built on the grounds of our exsisting large church and school that we consolidated in to) And yet still after all the great things that God has done for us there are still people hurting from the parish closure, you know feeling left out, not welcome. I shall take your advice and research and hopefully come up with a good starting plan. Thank you both for your help, I’m sure I’ll be back asking for more. God Bless

I hope that us being Orthodox won’t be a disqualification.

We have Sunday School for adults after DL. During the school year it is a continous exposition of the Gospels, We finished Mark and Matthew. We were going to go on to St. Luke, but are going to do St. John instead. The priest always ask for questions of the material of last week, things that have come up, or about the sermon. Sometimes we don’t get to the Gospel, but the time is always well spent. Father uses sheets that have a Harmony of the Gospel passage in question.

During the summer, there’s an inquier’s class, but many of us in the Church for a number years comes. It deals with some basic things, like the beginnings of the canon, the Early Church, Old Testament history etc.

I think someone has been posting the sessions.
I’ll have to look for an updated list.

Btw, our priest was a member of the Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club from way back.

Since you have the CCC, maybe something like Father Corappi would be what you could do.

we started with an apologetics class for HS students after Confirmation, using basic apologetics series from San Juan seminars. this has grown into an apologetics club, and now most participants are adults. other material they have used are CD’s from John Martignoni I think is website is bible Christian society

somebody has posted links to both these in last couple of weeks, will be back as soon as I find them.

prof also uses EWTN broadcasts on appropriate topics.

class chooses a topic to explore each quarter, recent ones have included
book of Revelation, what is the real deal on end times
answering JWs
answering Mormons
apologetics on Mary
ap. on the Eucharist

found links
Apologetics sources

Beginning apologetics series and other resources from CA catalog

Emmaus Road is a great source, for faith facts CDs, Catholic for a Reason books, check out multimedia too

I probably did not spell his name right but here is link to Bible Christian Society, and there are free apologetics CDs, plus other topics
our prof used these last year and found them excellent sources
site founder’s names is John Martignoni

great apologetics links

Marcello D’Ambrosio’s Crossroads Initiative site, with links not only to his work, but great apologetics links

I’ve got some reading to do. Excellent!!!

whatever else you decide to discuss I would start with the Basic Apologetics Beginners, with leader guide and participant book (can order from CA catalog) and the apologetics handbooks , esp the one called how NOT to do apologetics or how NOT to evanglize, or some similar title (other posters help me here). What you don’t want is a bunch of half-educated people accosting strangers (or their own relatives) and attacking their religion out of the blue.

Absolutely basics first. Not only do we wish to equipt people of our parish with apologetic skills, but first and foremost knowledge for themselves to obtain a greater love for God and church. I have some of these basic apologetics books that I have purchased at parish functions, we have a very dedicated “book sale” lady. I have a few that I have been given to me by priests after some question and answer session that I have had with them one on one. Some of them highlighted and notes in the margins, they are some of my most read literature. thanks for the help.

Another idea depending on the knowledge level of your audience is to use Faith Facts put out by Catholics United for the Faith (CUF).

They are good to discuss in a 1.5 hour format with time for questions. There are also a great deal of references and they are free.

Here is a link:



DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit