The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

A Half Century of Progress: The Church’s Ministry of Catechesis Part One: International Catechetical Study Weeks (1959–1964)

Authored by Monsignor John Pollard in Issue #8.1 of Catechetical Review

Editor’s Introduction: The last one hundred years have seen significant developments in how the Church has understood the nature of her catechetical mission. There has been both a movement toward the past and a movement toward the future: a desire to recover the dynamism seen in the teaching of Christ and the catechesis of the early Church as well as an eagerness to help catechists meet new challenges by thoughtfully engaging contemporary insights. Three catechetical directories have been written, as well as summaries from numerous Study Weeks and official documents, through which we can trace a compelling description of how the catechetical mission might be best carried out. Monsignor John Pollard, a man who has served as a prominent catechetical thinker and leader as many of these developments have taken place, presents this helpful series detailing the trajectory of how the Church has articulated her catechetical mission to make disciples. We hope you enjoy this series.

Even before Pope John XXIII convoked the Second Vatican Council, the Church was wrestling with the challenge of remaining relevant in a rapidly secularizing world. This sense was felt among Church leaders, theologians, catechists, and the lay faithful in general. Within the fields of catechetics and liturgy, a renewal and reform movement began to surface that saw value in bringing catechetical and liturgical leaders from different parts of the world together to share their experiences of proclaiming the Gospel and celebrating the rites of the Church within the cultures of their respective countries.

In the history of the modern catechetical movement, the series of six International Catechetical Study Weeks that were held in Nijmegen, Holland (1959); Eichstätt, Germany (1960); Bangkok, Thailand (1962); Katigondo Seminary, Uganda (1964); Manila, Philippines (1967); and Medellin, Columbia (1968) appear now, over fifty years later, to have been significant directional moments in the renewal and reform of catechetics. When taken together, the resolutions, conclusions, and summaries of these six International Catechetical Study Weeks constitute an important element of the framework within which catechetics has evolved before, during, and after the Second Vatican Council. Especially in the days before Vatican II, there seemed to be heightened worldwide interest in global concerns, diversity within the Church, and the Church’s coexistence in the world with both other Christian and non-Christian religious traditions. The International Catechetical Study Weeks directly involved the participants with these concerns precisely because they were international in scope and missionary in focus.


The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!

This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

Editor's Reflections: Toward a Eucharistic Revival
By Dr. James Pauley
Free The Feast of Corpus Christi last month was a momentous event in the life of the Church in the United States. The celebration of this liturgy begins a Eucharistic revival, a period of historic importance that will culminate in a National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis in the summer of 2024. The need for “revival” in relation to the Eucharist... Read more
The Spiritual Life: How the Eucharist Catechizes about the Meaning of Life
By Bishop Andrew Cozzens
Free The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is currently undertaking a Eucharistic revival. The idea for it began in 2019 when the bishops decided that we needed to respond to the moment of crisis in belief in the Eucharist in which we find ourselves—not only the discouraging results of the 2019 Pew study that reported that less than 30... Read more
The Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist
By Brian Pedraza
Free The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist should be numbered among the most kerygmatic of the Church’s doctrines. Here is where the Son of God, who out of the immensity of his divine love became incarnate, has chosen to dwell amongst his people until the end of time. Here is where divine charity makes itself available to the human heart. Here... Read more


Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now