The Kerygma: What It Is and Why It Matters, Part I

Authored by Dr. Chris Burgwald in Issue #6.2 of The Catechetical Review

A Proclamation of Salvation


Over the last several decades, theologians who focus on evangelization in general, and the moment of catechesis within it in particular, have given considerable thought and attention to the topic of the kerygma, and rightly so. The kerygma can be aptly understood to be the summary of the Gospel; and, as such, it is always deserving of closer study, especially so in an age when Catholicism is waning in many places. In this three-part series, I’ll explain what the kerygma is and why it’s important. In this first installment, I’ll provide a basic overview of the kerygma, examine its significance today, and offer a closer look at one of its components more relevant to the work of catechesis in our time.

The Importance of the Kerygma

Let’s first look at the importance of the kerygma in the work of evangelization generally, and catechesis particularly. Understanding the kerygma is essential for at least two reasons. First, the question, “What is the Good News of Jesus Christ?” is obviously an important one. In the Gospel according to St. Mark, Jesus’ very first words are, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (1:15). His first directions are to repent of our sins and to believe in the Good News, the Gospel. Clearly this is a matter of supreme importance; and, therefore, it is essential that we have a clear understanding of the nature of the Gospel.

The second reason that the kerygma is an essential topic is closely related to the first. Considering how important the Gospel is to our Christian faith and to our life as his disciples, studies have shown that far too many Christians (including many Catholics) do not really know what the Gospel is. In fact, it could be fairly argued that not only are many believers ignorant of the actual content of the Gospels, they probably don’t even see it as either Good or as News. And if that’s true of Catholics and other Christians, how much more true must it be of the peoples of the world, all of whom Jesus told us to make disciples?

Understanding the kerygma, the core content of the Gospel, is essential then: first, because of its centrality to Christianity; and second, because of how little it is actually known in the world today, among Catholics, other Christians, and the general populace.

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: Kerygmatic Catechesis and the New Directory
By Dr. James Pauley
Free The much-anticipated Directory for Catechesis is finally here! So many of us involved in the work of catechetical renewal have eagerly awaited its publication. This directory is the third of its kind, following 1971 and 1997 directories that each proposed a vision for catechesis intended to prepare Catholics to live in the modern world as well-... Read more
An Invitation to a Faithful, Dynamic Renewal of Catechesis
By Jem Sullivan
Free This article explores c hapters 1-2 of the new Directory for Catechesis. The publication of a Directory for Catechesis by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization could not have arrived at a more providential moment as the universal Church seeks a renewal of Christian faith in local churches struggling through the effects... Read more
Becoming Windows for the Light of the Living God
By Brad Bursa
This article explores chapters 3-4 of the Directory for Catechesis. O ne could liken c hapters t hree (The Catechist) and f our (The Formation of Catechists) of the new Directory for Catechesis to a meditation on windows and how they are made. Identity and Vocation of the Catechist In the early Church, those who followed the Way were often called... 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