Adult Faith Formation Programs and Research Projects

Adult Faith Formation Research Projects

In 2023, the CCCB Episcopal Commission for Evangelization and Catechesis (ECEC) met with representatives of nine institutions (members of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCUC) and Canadian Catholic seminaries) to discuss their lay formation programs. As a result, the Office for Evangelization and Catechesis (English Sector) created an information resource bank with a list of lay formation programs and research projects that are offered at these Catholic institutions of higher learning. The hope is that this information will be of use to Lay Pastoral Workers, Catholic Teachers and Administrators, Clergy, Religious Men/Women, Interested Lay People Who Are Not in Ministry, Catholic Health Care Workers and other interested persons.

The information gathered to-date is available below. This resource will be updated in consultation with the universities, colleges and seminaries going forward. Please contact each institution for more information about its programs or research projects.

Adult Faith Formation Programs and Research


Saint Paul University (University), Ottawa, ON

Centre for Religious Education and Catechesis Research Project

An Action Research project designed to address the most serious challenges to effective adult faith education and to identify effective practice in adult faith education/catechesis.  And to present findings in accessible resources that can support pastoral leaders and catechists in their practice (see links to 3 practice-based resources below).

Vision, Aims, Research Question

Empirical research can contribute to stronger practice in adult faith education/catechesis by helping us identify practice that empowers individuals’ personal faith-life and our communal life and mission as mature Christian disciples, and also by adding to our understanding of the faith-life gap. Aims: to share the findings with leaders in the field to support more effective practice as well as make a contribution to empirical research in this field which has been clearly identified as greatly lacking (in Canada and elsewhere); to provide educational events that support effective practice in adult faith education/catechesis. Research question: What practices in adult faith education/catechesis bridge the gap between faith and life and support meaning-making and agency as mature Christian Disciples?

Research Hypothesis

In Adult Faith Education/Catechesis effective practice is advanced by the wisdom that is generated when leaders in the field engage collectively (as a Community of Practice) in a shared cyclical process of observing, reflecting, planning and acting (Action Research) to address the identified challenges.

Methodology

Action Research.

Methods

Focus Groups; Semi-structured Interviews.

Approach

Qualitative Research.

Research process in gathering and analyzing data

We have completed 3 phases of research (each with its own findings and resources—see below) and a fourth is currently underway. Data is gathered from the focus group meetings (whose members use observation and field notes to record experiences in their respective contexts as they engage in practice and interaction with other practitioners and present their experiences at meetings where generative conversations are facilitated to further the insights and learnings) and from semi-structured interviews with other leaders in the field. All meetings and interviews are recorded and transcribed by the lead researcher for data analysis. Coding and Thematic analysis are used to identify categories/themes which, in turn, form the basis for evolving research questions and the foundation for final findings during each phase of research (various instruments are used for this). I’m happy to provide articles about the Qualitative Research Approach, The Action Research Methodology and the Methods of Focus Group and Semi-structured Interviews (as well as data analysis) if it could be helpful.

Participant Profiles

  • Clergy
  • Religious Men/Women
  • Catechists
  • Lay Ministers
  • Catholic Teachers and Administrators
  • Indigenous Persons
  • University Professors

Recruited Focus Group members must be recognized as respected/effective leaders in the field. We have intentionally included leaders from each region of the country (including the chairs of the catechetical associations of east, west and central) as well as Indigenous and Newcomer voices.

Application

How will this research contribute to the development of lay formation programs?

  1. Focus Group members (leaders in the field) who participate in this research project are finding it very formative for their leadership (e.g., Anne Walsh—who is a leader in the field—recently shared with me, “This is where I am coming for formation”—referring to her (ongoing) engagement as a focus group member;
  2. Our resources are being widely used in the field and leaders are reporting great help for their practice from the resources;
  3. We offer symposia and other educational gatherings to explore and discuss effective practice in adult faith education/catechesis;
  4. We will begin a certificate program for Adult Faith Education/Catechesis in the Fall 2024.
  5. We have a Project with Novalis (currently underway) to produce a Canadian Text Book for Adult Faith Education based upon our findings.

Findings