Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

November 10, 2008

The "Both/And" Approach to Catechesis

Last week's National Symposium on Adolescent Catechesis was a series of fruitful presentations and discussions on the topic with catechetical leaders from a variety of perspectives (e.g., bishops, diocesan, academics, schools, parish, parents, publishers). In his presentation "Adolescent Catechesis: Where Are We Now and Going" Dr. Thomas Groome presented a map for forging ahead in this area. A main focus of his presentation was the need for a both/and approach to catechesis. Among the points Groome made:

In sum, catechsis is constituted by "transmission of the Gospelmessage and experience of Christian life" (GDC #87). There is a need to receive, deepen, and apass on the Gospel faith andto experience Christian living. Both kerygmatic and experiential.

Literacy in Catholic faith should be both informative and performative. It requires both instruction and practice (especially of justice and compassion).

In pedagogy the Church also urges the both/and approaches. This means that pedagogies that are both inductive—from life to Faith and deductive—from Faith to life must be utilized.

A pedagogy that is both experiential and kerygmatic must promote "a correct correlation and interaction between profound human experiences and the revealed message" (GDC #153).

Groome summarized such pedagogy as "enabling people to bring their lives to their Faith and their Faith to their lives, with the intent of lived Catholic Faith; life to Faith to life.

How does the "both/and" approach apply to your role in catechesis?

What opportunites are you offering your students that are both informative and performative?

How are the life experiences of your students incorporated to lessons of faith?

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