The GDC starts out age-appropriate catechesis with a look at adults (172-176). Some may be surprised, but I agree with the Church: this is where it needs to start. Titling these five sections, “The catechesis of adults,” the floowing note is affixed, referring to Part I, chap. II, nn. 142-144 of this document; the General Catechetical Directory 20; 92-97; John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation Catechesi Tradendae 43-44; and this fairly obscure but important document from 1988’s International Council for Catechesis, The catechesis of adults in the Christian community.
172. The discourse of faith with adults must take serious account of their experience, of their conditioning and of the challenges which they have encountered in life. Their questions of faith as well as their needs are many and varied.(Cf. The catechesis of adults in the Christian community 10-18) Consequently, the following categories may be distinguished:
– adult Christians who consistently live their faith option and sincerely desire to deepen it;
– adults who have been baptized but who have not been sufficiently catechized, or have not brought to fulfilment the journey begun at Christian initiation, or who have fallen away from the faith, to such a degree that they may be called ‘quasi catechumens'; (Catechesi Tradendae 44)
– non-baptized adults, to whom the catechumenate truly and properly corresponds.(Cf. Catechesi Tradendae 19)
Mention must also be made of those adults who come from Christian confessions which are not in full communion with the Catholic Church.
Most believers may be seen to fall into category two, those who identify as Catholics, but who lack the deep roots of many lay people and most clergy and religious who are in category one. There is more than enough work to do in parishes for those first two categories, yet much of our formal ministry effort is devoted to category three. That is not a criticism, but it underscores the assumptions we have about faith formation as a pre-graduation exercise.