Catechesis with or without religious education? Searching for the absent partner in the “National Directory for Catechesis” (2005): A constructive and critical appraisal

Marylin T Kravatz, Fordham University


The publication of the National Directory for Catechesis (NDC) on May 1, 2005, by the U.S. bishops, marked a significant moment for the catechetical mission of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. The bishops see the NDC's role as continuing to facilitate the renewal and development of catechesis in the U.S. The document contributes to this task by providing the fundamental theological and pastoral principles drawn from church teaching, and by offering guidelines for the application of these principles. This study explores the "who," "what," "where," "when," and "how" of contemporary catechesis. The National Directory for Catechesis serves as a lens through which this is unveiled. A constructive and critical appraisal of the document and its significant themes is a major part of the study. The primary purpose of the research is to disclose a significant element lacking in the NDC, namely, religious education. It proposes a creative tension between catechesis and religious education. This calls for a dialogical conversation in order to find mutual ground that can be beneficial for both. To structure this conversation, the study also addresses the history and evolving thought of contemporary religious education. The purpose is to open up the possibility of exploring the absence of this dialogical partner in the National Directory for Catechesis. Through an interdisciplinary approach that is humanistic, philosophical and historical, the study places the NDC in creative tension with the meaning and practice of religious education. The metaphor of "searching for an absent partner" serves as the organizing focus for the study, and acts as a guiding interpretive lens for an active dialogue between the NDC, theorists of catechesis and religious education. The historical analysis also demonstrates the uniqueness of catechesis and religious education, and assists in answering a central question of the research: Will catechesis take religious education as a conversation partner? And, will religious education return the favor? This study concludes that catechesis and religious education remain distinct enterprises that have their own specific identities and make their own particular contributions toward educating for a religious way of life. The work is an invitation for catechesis and religious education to generate a continuous healthy dialogue, to mutually enrich each other, while maintaining their distinct identities.

Subject Area

Religious education|Religion

Recommended Citation

Kravatz, Marylin T, "Catechesis with or without religious education? Searching for the absent partner in the “National Directory for Catechesis” (2005): A constructive and critical appraisal" (2006). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3222143.