The State of Adolescent Catechesis Today: A Review of the Literature

Article excerpt

Third in a continuing series of articles exploring facets of adolescent catechesis, following publication of the ''National Directory for Catechesis"

The two-fold purpose of this article is to review current literature and develop implications and conclusions regarding the state of adolescent catechesis today. The scope of this review was limited because of time and space constraints and is heavily weighted toward sociological research.

Annotated

Bibliography on Adolescent Catechesis

A. Sociological Research

1. East, T., Eckert, A. M., Kurtz, D., & Singer-Towns, B. (2004). Effective Practices for Dynamic Youth Ministry. Winona, MN: Saint Mary's Press.

The Center for Ministry Development and Saint Mary's Press sponsored a national symposium on effective youth ministry practices in Catholic parishes. More than 400 youth and adults engaged in youth ministry from 100 parishes were interviewed as part of this qualitative research. The symposium provided summaries of 36 key findings from youth, adult youth ministers and parish staff interviews. Five key areas of high impact were summarized, with the first described as "faith formation/adolescent catechesis that is engaging and connected to lives of youth" (p. 1).

2. Ebaugh, H. R. (2005). Handbook of Religion and Social Institutions. New York: Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.

This handbook is written for sociologists interested in recent studies and theoretical approaches that relate religious variables to their particular areas of interest. Three chapters especially are important to note. David Sikkink and Jonathan Hill write an in-depth review of the history and politics of education related to religion and review research on Catholic school effectiveness. W. Bradford Wilcox provides an overview of current research on the influence of the family on faith practice. Peter Benson and Pamela Ebstyne King provide one of the best summaries available on current research on youth and religion.

3. Francis, L. J., Robins, M. & Astley, J. (Eds.). (2005). Religion, Education, and Adolescence: International Empirical Perspectives. Cardiff, UK: University of Wales Press.

A collection of 12 presentations from the 2002 International Seminar on Religious Education and Values that provide securely grounded research into adolescents' views of religion in the United Kingdom, Europe and Israel. Of particular interest are the eight key conclusions the editors identify resulting from this focused collection on adolescence, religion and education. Four of these include: Europe and Israel are not heading toward rapid secularization; religion remains a significant factor in the lives of young Europeans; young people are redefining their religious traditions; and the task of the religious educator is enriched and enabled by the discipline of empirical enquiry that listens to young people themselves (p. 11).

4. Hudson, W. (2002). Window on Mission: A CHS 2000 Report on Academic and Co-Curricular Programs and Services and Religious Education and Formation. Washington, DC: National Catholic Educational Association.

This report summarizes survey data from a sample of 300 Catholic high schools. It provides important benchmark data on instructional inputs for adolescent catechesis including staffing, curriculum, assessment and formation. It reports that 88 percent of Catholic high schools require students to take four credits or 480 hours of religious instruction and, on average, perform 51 hours of service.

5. Markuly, M. S. (2002). "Being Faithful-Pursuing Success: Tools for Assessment." The Living Light, 38 (3). 61-77.

This text raises two very important questions: How do we really know what religious education outcomes we accomplish and, more importantly, what instructional practices most effectively help accomplish these outcomes? The author argues that pursuing empirical research and evaluation in adolescent catechesis will set religious education on the slow but steady path of making improvements. …