The shape of a catechumenate: A critical analysis of its educational and organizational structures

James Terence Morgan, Fordham University


The purpose of this research was to examine the educational and organizational structures of the catechumenate, an indefinite period of time devoted to a process of initiating, socializing, and educating adults converts into the Roman Catholic Church.^ The problem investigated was how this process of formation and information, called "conversion therapy," was worked out in parish catechumenates without apparent educational and organizational structures. Theoretically, the newcomers were to learn about the faith through liturgical or ritual experiences and through group reflection and discussion of selected Bible readings as the only textbook needed in their education into the faith.^ The study was conducted through on-site participation and observation at four randomly chosen parish catechumenates, one primary and the others secondary. The empirical findings from the sites were crosschecked by the use of other data sources obtained inside and outside the sites.^ After being analyzed through a four-fold framework from organizational theory and broad categories from educational theory, the empirically-based findings indicated that the catechumenates reflected, organizationally and educationally, the institutional Church. Furthermore, pastors, directors, and catechists engaged in facilitating the conversion therapy process for uninitiated and unbaptized adults also needed to adapt the process to the unique catechetical and pastoral needs of the baptized but uncatechized Catholics within the catechumenate structure. In caring for both groups within the same catechumenate, volunteer catechists new to but willing to try the more experiential Lectionary-based catechesis approach would return to the more didactic approach of the religion classroom when using catechetical materials to supplement or substitute for the Scriptures. When the number and presence of the baptized and uncatechized Catholics were overwhelming in the catechumenal setting, the latter approach in catechesis was favored and carried out by those leading the catechesis.^ From the findings, the original aim of the catechumenate, the ritual initiation of unbaptized adults through conversion therapy based on Lectionary-based catechesis, has been and is being adapted at local level, so much so, that the shape and the future of the catechumenate is yet to be determined. ^

Subject Area

Adult education|Religious education

Recommended Citation

Morgan, James Terence, "The shape of a catechumenate: A critical analysis of its educational and organizational structures" (1990). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9109266.