GDC 274-275: “Coherent diocesan catechetical programmes”

What should a diocese offer in terms of catechetical programming connected with Christian Initiation? Today’s sections tell it:

274. The diocesan catechetical programme is the global catechetical project of a particular Church, which integrates, in a structured and coherent way, the diverse catechetical programmes addressed by the Diocese to different age groups. (Cf. Part IV, chap. 2: “Catechesis according to age”.) In this sense, every particular Church, especially in relation to Christian initiation, should offer at least two services:

a) a single, coherent, process of Christian initiation for children, adolescents and young people, intimately connected with the sacraments of initiation already received or about to be received and linked with educational pastoral care;

b) a catechetical programme for adults, addressed to those Christians who need to deepen their faith in order to complete the Christian initiation begun at Baptism.

In many countries, there is also a growing need for programmes of catechesis for the old, for those Christians who, in the last stage of their earthly lives, desire, perhaps for the first time, to lay a solid foundation for their faith.

Again, the GDC repeates the mantra that adult catechesis is the core of the catechetical effort. I don’t think many people get that, obvoiusly. They treat catechesis like it’s a degree program with the award being the particular sacrament of the day.

275. These different programmes of catechesis, each with it own socio-cultural variations, should not be organized separately as though they were “separate compartments without any communication between them”. (Catechesi Tradendae 45c) It is necessary that the catechesis offered by a particular Church be well co-ordinated. Among the diverse forms of catechesis “their perfect complementarity must be fostered”. (Catechesi Tradendae 45c) As has been already mentioned, the organizing principle, which gives coherence to the various catechetical programmes offered by a particular Church, is attention to adult catechesis. This is the axis around which revolves the catechesis of childhood and adolescence as well as that of old age.(Cf. General Catechetical Directory 20, where it is shown how the other forms of catechesis are ordered (ordinantur) to adult catechesis.)

The fact that a Diocese offers within a single diocesan programme different programmes of catechesis does not imply that those to whom it is addressed need follow them one after the other. A young person who has arrived at adulthood with a well rounded faith does not need a catechumenal type of catechesis for adults, but other more solid nourishment, to assist him in permanently maturing in the faith. The same is true of those who arrive at old age with well rooted faith. Along with the provision of initiatory programmes, which are absolutely indispensable, the local Church must also provide diversified programmes of permanent catechesis for Christians adults.


We have a long way to go before realizing and trusting this centrality of adult formation. It might be one way in which the Catholic school system handicaps our expectations–not to mention our results.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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