Reclaiming the Heart of Adult Catechesis: A Case Study in Search of Processes that Empower Mature Christian Disciples

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Title: Reclaiming the Heart of Adult Catechesis: A Case Study in Search of Processes that Empower Mature Christian Disciples
Authors: Kuzmochka, Carol
Date: 2014-04-30
Abstract: This Doctor of Ministry thesis explores the need to reclaim the heart of adult catechesis as a ministry that exists for the purpose of empowering mature Christian disciples. The encounter on the road to Emmaus provides an inspiring example of a transformative experience that shaped the vision and practice of the early Church. The fifty years since the Second Vatican Council have seen an attempt to reclaim effective adult catechesis modelled in the early Church. However, a disconnect exists between the vision of adult catechesis expressed in the Church’s documents and its practice. Lacunae in empirical research in adult catechesis confound this problem. A central goal of this study is to contribute to a needed body of empirical research that studies adult catechesis. Using a mixed method approach of quantitative and qualitative instruments, I conducted a case study of Putting Out into the Deep, an adult catechetical series that I designed and led, in collaboration with an Advisory Committee, in the Archdiocese of Ottawa. Using case study methodology allowed me to study the series as a bounded system. I gathered a mix of quantitative (a 50 item random sample survey sent to 50 participants in the catechetical series) and qualitative evidence (small group semi-structured interviews with 10 participants and 7 pastoral leaders associated with the series) using multiple data collection techniques. This allowed me to search for processes that empower mature Christian disciples and to identify some obstacles to effective adult catechesis. The Church’s normative documents regarding adult catechesis provide a foundation for theological reflection in this research, and literature from adult catechesis, adult development (and faith development), transformative learning, sociology of religion and practical theology provide the conceptual framework. The case study presents one model of collaborative curriculum building that demonstrates that it is possible to construct adult catechesis that honours both comprehensive adult catechesis, and the significant faith and life questions of participants. The findings from this study both corroborate and expand some current theories related to effective adult catechesis. The findings regarding effective adult catechesis include: it is characterized by processes, such as those used for theological reflection, that engages critical thinking; it is marked by authoritative support, competent leadership and a commitment to the empowerment of mature Christian disciples; it invites the whole community to take responsibility, and involves participants in the ongoing planning and evaluation of the process; it is impeded by pastoral leaders - lay and ordained – who may support it verbally but not in practice; it is impeded by indoctrination. The need to embrace the expertise of transformative learning and adult development theory is particularly evident from the findings. As a work in practical theology seeking renewed praxis, reflection on the Church’s normative texts in dialogue with the research findings emphasizes the duty of those who are responsible for this ministry to engage in critical reflection that identifies obstacles, renews vision, and strengthens commitment to providing effective adult catechesis that empowers mature Christian disciples.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/30968
http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-769
CollectionThèses Saint-Paul // Saint Paul Theses
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