Last but Not Least…Advice for Catechists of Adults

Adult Catechesis is last on my list of webinars but certainly not least! In fact, the General Directory for Catechesis reminds us that Adult Catechesis is the primary form of catechesis!With that in mind, what advice would you offer to someone who is going to be a catechist of adults (e.g. RCIA, Bible study, adult faith sharing, Adult Confirmation prep, etc)? In particular, how is teaching adults different from teaching children? What learning needs to adults have that are unique? Please share your insights and wisdom by adding your comments below. Have a great weekend!

About Joe Paprocki 2742 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at


  1. The number 1 way that I think of Adults as being different is that they are your equals and need to be respected as such. They may not have the same degrees and background but they do have life experience and faith that has been on a journey.

    Number 2 I feel that dialogue is one of the most successful ways of communicating that respect. Only the most highly motivated will sit throught a classroom style presentation ( I’m thinking of furiously taking notes during my grad school days) But most will enjoy even the most heavy topics if you take periodic breaks to let them share their own wisdom, questions and most importantly ideas on how the topic connects to their daily life with their peers.

  2. I find that adults have a lot of wisdom to share on any topic that I have presented. I find that adults like to be engaged in the conversation and be affirmed and then are open to new insights. I also use a story visual or parables to make a point. Some of the adults I work with like to open with prayer and song and others say the songs are too much!!! Teaching adults is fun at any rate.

  3. I find that being non-judgemental with adults is a necessity! Everyone’s journey of conversion is unique and must be treated as such.
    They love to share, and the hospitality that they receive from us is essential to their becomming part of a faith-based community.

    Remeber to listen, be patient, and expect to go with their needs and not necessarily your planned agenda.

  4. The big difference I see between catechising adults rather than children, is that the adults come because they WANT to not because they have to. Faith sharing is the way to go! Whether its using a DVD, video or chapter from a book, start with a Scripture passage related to that fundamental of our faith your presenting and ask them what it means to them in their personal life. Adults, especially cradle Catholics are not adept at using the Bible so this is a hands on experience to become more comfortable with the Word of the Lord. At the end of each session, ask “How will you put your faith into action this week,” based on what we studied tonight? At first they will be hesitant to share alound their personal journey with God, but as a bud bloosoms so does the faith sharing and the rich, deep intimacy with our God.

    I learn more than I teach. Its a humbling but rich experience!

    Another resource for group faith sharing material is from Renew International which has a six week book for adults regarding the changes coming this Advent.
    Contact them at

  5. As an adult student, my heart has been opened to the truth and beauty of Holy Scripture. I simply cannot get enough, and wish our classes were weekly rather than monthly. I appreciate the respect our deacon accords everyone of the participants, whether they respond oftenand eagrly or perhaps hold back somewhat. It is a delicate balance, I’m sure. As a group we adult students tend to have high expectations and may be more critical of our teachers. I applaud you teachers of adults. God bless.

  6. “The big difference I see between catechizing adults rather than children, is that the adults come because they WANT to, not because they have to.”

    Yes. My wife & I taught adult/RCIA before moving to 6th grade. I didn’t have to motivate or entertain adults (although it still helps), and they can sit still and pay attention longer to a developing concept.

    On the other hand, adults bring an awful lot of personal baggage that kids don’t. And kids never think they already know it all, so even if they don’t want to be there, they are still on average more teachable.

  7. How I wish I could teach intermediate kids this year. It would be growth in wisdom for me and for them in catechism.

  8. Having been involved in adult faith formation for 42 years I find that adults participate in adult faith formation for a variety of reasons. Research studies have also confirmed these reasons: 1.A desire to accomplish a specific goal i.e. train for a ministry role or learn specifically about church teachings; 2. Learning for it own sake; 3. Personal and spiritual development; 4.Socialization- just to be with others. 5.Coping with life tasks and life changes i.e. parenting skills, loss of a job; 5. Finally adults attend faith formation because they are activity oriented. They want more than study they want action. These doers are interested in outreach.

    Knowing these reasons is an aid for planning a parish adult enirchment program.

  9. “Socialization- just to be with others.”

    Hey, that’s right…there is a lot of socializing before & after RCIA in our parish.

    Never thought about it before.

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