What is catechesis? The General Directory for Catechesis states “the definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch, but also in communion and intimacy, with Jesus Christ.” (80)
There are many ways to catechize. Though a traditional school model of catechesis is the way that many adult Catholics learned the faith, multiple and alternative catechetical models continue to emerge and have grown in popularity to meet the varied needs of modern families and today’s parishes. Many catechetical and pastoral leaders are offering alternative models of catechesis.
There are multiple models for Catholic catechesis. In a traditional school or parish model children are grouped by age or grade and attend daily or weekly religious education classes to pray together and learn their faith. In a family model, families share responsibility for faith formation with the parish by using resources that explain and enhance their understanding of faith as it is lived in the home. In an at-home model, students receive catechesis at home via homeschooling, rather than as part of a regular parish based catechetical program or Catholic school. An intergenerational model brings the whole community, including parishioners of all ages, together to learn about and share faith. In many summer models, students are grouped by age or grade and come together daily to attend a multi-week intensive program. Finally, a lectionary-based model uses the Sunday Gospel readings and the flow of the liturgical year as the core of its curriculum.
Why Choose an Alternative Catechetical Model?
Alternative catechetical models can offer flexibility for both parishes and families and help parishes reach diverse populations.
Family models provide a way to involve parents more directly in the faith formation of their children. An at-home model suits parents who choose homeschooling for religion over a more traditional model. This model also provide the leeway needed for families with scheduling difficulties or other extenuating circumstances. Family and at-home models also support those who may not be able to attend regular catechetical sessions, such as those living in rural settings. Whole community models engage parishioners of all ages and ground catechesis within a broader parish context. A lectionary-based model forges a strong tie to Scripture and the liturgical year.
Using alternative models or incorporating elements from these models into traditional catechetical programs offers options to parishes as they “inform the faith community and candidates for initiation into the Church about the teachings of Christ.”
What Model Do You Most Often Use for Catechesis?
Which model do you most often use for catechesis in your religious education program? Is it a traditional school model, or a hybrid model that includes family catechesis? Do your students meet mostly by grade level but come together with families for intergenerational meetings at some points throughout the year? Your catechetical model may have elements of multiple catechetical models, or you may use different models within your program.
If you are using the We Believe or We Live Our Faith catechetical programs, you can augment and adjust the program for multiple models.
Implement your catechetical program in 21 sessions instead of 27 with the 21 Session Model Supplement.
Whether your catechetical program is a fully intergenerational model, or you are looking to create new opportunities to bring the entire parish community together for faith sharing, the Intergenerational Model Supplement can help.
Help create a family-centered focus that promotes and increases family involvement in your unique program with the Family Centered Model Supplement.
Provide support to parents who are primarily responsible for the catechesis of their children at home and who are using the We Believe Catholic Identity Edition Parish Edition Student Text and the We Believe Family Book as catechetical materials with the At-Home Catechesis Model Supplement.
How Catechetical Programs Can Reap the Benefits of a Lectionary-Based Model
Following the liturgical year can be an alternative model for Catholic catechesis, whether at home, in your religious education program, or a variation to the traditional week–to–week model that connects to the liturgical year and weekly readings. Many parishes strive to make a deeper connection to the weekly readings at Mass within their catechetical programs. Liturgically based models can be used in conjunction with other models.
With the lectionary as an integral part of the catechetical curriculum, this model provides a strong connection for students and families to the Eucharistic liturgy, particularly the Sunday Gospel, and emphasizes liturgical catechesis, prayer, and Scripture and applying Scripture to daily life.
Support and Enhance Your Catechetical Model with Resources
Find more suggestions for experimenting with alternative Catholic catechetical models within a variety of resources.
SUPPORTING FAMILY-CENTERED MODELS
Experiment with a flipped classroom approach. The flipped classroom philosophy involves taking the portions of learning that typically happen in a classroom (think of the content from formal teaching and readings) and having students complete them at home, ahead of class time. Class time is then spent reinforcing the content that students have read and reviewed before class (think activities, discussion, and projects). In other words, what is typically completed as classwork is homework preceding class, and what is typically assigned as homework, is classwork. This alternative model supports transitioning to an at-home or family-centered catechetical model.
Plan a seasonal event to engage your entire parish community with Gather In My Name whole community events. With the Gather In My NameCome to the Lord's Table– The Eucharistevent, participants of all ages will be able to deepen their participation in the Eucharist by embracing the invitation to "go in peace to love and serve the Lord" as full members as Christ's Body, the Church. They will be able to appreciate the nourishment of the Eucharist and the mission for which we are nourished.
Help the students make connections to the weekly readings and supplement with seasonal, Scriptural-based resources. Preview, discuss, and reflect on the readings students will hear at Mass or heard at Mass this week. Download this exclusive Integrating the LectionaryPlanner designed for catechists to inspire connections to the weekly readings in whatever catechetical model you currently use.