Need help creating 6 week intro to Catholicism

I have the opportunity to give a 6 week class to a group of Protestants to provide an overview of Catholicism. What 6 topics would you suggest?

Sexuality would be a good topic but perhaps that is too blunt for an intro. Then again, why hide the truth

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Scripture and tradition, Church history and apostolic succession, authority and the magisterium, Mary, the Eucharist, sacramental life.


I would use existing programs.

Why Believe?

Even the video/study guide “Common Ground”


To be blunt… I would simply use the Symbolon series on as a guide. Esp part 1, which is 10 episodes.


Symbolon is pretty good, but it is longer than you would likely be able to fit in 6 weeks because it is designed for RCIA. In most parishes RCIA takes about 9 months, and the number of episodes in that series corresponds roughly to that (once a week for 8-9 months).

But you might be able to use some of it; perhaps if you have access to it, you could look through it and see if any of it would be useful. Or use Catholicism for Dummies; it is actually a great book written by two priests and a good intro to the faith.

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Thanks. Hadn’t thought of Catholicism for Dummies.

This is a group of Pentecostal and Baptist Protestants. A couple of them were pastors. I’m trying to give them a basic breakdown of the Catholic faith. During the classes I will be drawing connections between there faith and the Catholic faith.

The Resurrection of Christ is the central and crowning truth of Catholicism. Therefore it is the “hub” from which the whole faith emanates, and also it is the “icing on the cake.” It is the beginning and the end, in a way; the alpha and the omega. You have to start there, imo. :slight_smile:

Good luck.

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Bishop Barron’s Catholicism series


This is made for what you are doing.

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You could also contact your archdiocese’s office for catechesis.


Well, to be honest, Symbolon can be done in a day or two as well. On does not need to use week long reflection questions.

Also, the videos themselves and discuss guide is more than enough. Plus, @stevely doesn’t have to use all 10 or 20. He can pick out the best 6 for his group (if he likes).


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I don’t know about this one… I think this series works better on fallen away Catholics and “nones.” For Protestants, I don’t know if it addresses their issues.

Afterall, Bishop Barron’s ministry is more focused on Catholics, fallen away Catholics and “nones.” His ministry isn’t really focused on converting Protestants.

Just my 2 cents

(but the Catholicism series is great)


Why we’re Catholic
Brief Church History

I disagree. It would just feed the belief that we are sex - obsessed.


I don’t know how that would be possible; each episode is about 35 minutes long, and there must be 20-something of them. (I have been on an RCIA team that used them.)

Not completely disagreeing with you; just not what I would choose to use, given the limited time frame. :slight_smile: Being a perfectionist, I don’t know if I could choose only 6 episodes because it would only give a few chunks of Church teaching in a few areas. That’s why I would opt to try to cover more ground with a book like Catholicism for Dummies. (But of course, that is only my own opinion; there could be many good ways to do it.)

Edit to add: I was assuming @Stevely is teaching a once-per-week class, but I could be wrong; perhaps they are meeting more often? If so, then, they could easily fit in more episodes and material

Agree with you there. It is best to introduce Church teaching in order, beginning with the most basic, and building one concept upon the other. Church teaching on sexuality is very important, but it belongs somewhat later in a course or class because it will make sense after more basic teaching provides a foundation and context for it.

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How long are the classes?

I have found that Protestants are baffled by Catholic gestures. So, I would start by going over the things we do when we come into Church.

First class-
Explain the Sign of the Cross and it’s variations.
Explain the presence of Holy Water.
Explain why we genuflect before we go into a pew.
Explain why we practice silence and reverence.
Explain why we pray before we sit.
Explain why we stand, sit and kneel during the Mass.
You might want to go over the Missalette.

That might take more than one class. But anyhoo…

explain the reason for the Saints.
Explain that the Saints is short for the canonized Saints.
But the laity are also saints.
And so are the folks in Purgatory.
Mention the Early Church Fathers like St. Augustine and some prominent Saints like St. Francis and St. Dominic, etc.
Explain Crucifixes and sacramentals.

Explain the priesthood.
Show them where it is in Scripture.
The Rosary,
Where it came from
Why we pray.

Take a wallk through Scripture with an eye to explaining
Salvation by faith and works.
Teaching the Word of God by Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and Magtisterium.
the Justification of Abraham and how it relates to the Sacraments

Maybe some Reformed brothers and sisters on this forum might give you some hints of what they want to learn about.

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Only the Bible versus Bible plus Catholic Tradition.
Only the Faith versus Faith and Works.
Once Saved Always Saved versus Working Out our Salvation.
Heaven and Hell versus Heaven, Hell and Purgatory.
On Mary and her Unique Role in Salvation History.
Intercession of Mary and the Saints.

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Somebody has six weeks to explain Catholicism to Protestants and the first thing you think of is sex? The fact is that Protestant attitudes to sex don’t differ that much from Catholic attitudes. Basically, birth control. Maybe some of the more liberal Protestant denominations are ok with masturbation.

Also, how fundamental is this to Catholicism? I feel that if you had six weeks to explain Catholicism to Protestants there would be so many other things that are so much more fundamental to explaining who we are and what we believe.

First up, I’d suggest explaining the Petrine office. Why do we call Peter the Prince of the Apostles? What does it mean to us that Peter is the rock upon whom the Church is founded? Why is the bishop of Rome also the Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church and the Vicar of Jesus Christ? What authority does the pope have and how is that authority exercised? What is the meaning of papal infallibility?

Secondly, and related to this, the episcopate and the apostolic succession. What is the function and authority of the bishop in the Catholic Church? What does it mean when we say that he is the focus of unity in the local church? What does it mean when we say that the pope governs the whole Church in collegial fraternity with all the bishops? Why is it that bishops have the sole authority to confer holy orders and are the ordinary ministers of confirmation? Why are there certain other functions within the diocese that are restricted to bishops?

Thirdly, the sacraments. Chief among these, of course, must be explaining the Eucharist. Why is the Mass the source and summit of our ecclesial life? What does it mean when we say this formula? What actually happens when we celebrate the Mass? What do we mean when we say that bread and wine are transubstantiated in a very literal sense into the body and blood of Jesus? How does this differ from Protestant understandings of the Lord’s Supper? Why are baptised Christians who are not Catholics not generally admitted to receive Holy Communion at a Catholic Mass? What does it mean when we talk about the Mass being a sacrifice? And then, besides, the Eucharist, what are our other six sacraments? Why do we have sacraments that are absent from Protestantism, such as confession and extreme unction, and why do we hold as sacraments things that Protestants have but don’t call sacraments, e.g. marriage?

Fourthly, our devotion to Mary and to all the saints. This is something that a lot of Protestants don’t understand and can even be a source of hostility. Do we worship Mary? Is Mary a pagan fertility goddess in disguise? Is Mary more important than Jesus? Where are the saints? Are they actually in heaven already? Are we actually able to communicate with them? Why do we ask the saints to intercede for us?

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