Adolescent Catechesis

The Partnership for Adolescent Catechesis (PAC)

… began in 2003 as a national collaborative focused on promoting a comprehensive and contemporary vision of adolescent catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church, committed to developing effective structures and approaches to Catholic faith formation and evangelization of younger and older adolescents in parishes and schools.

The three national organizations comprising the Partnership for Adolescent Catechesis are the:

Together the PAC strategically developed and coordinated the National Initiative on Adolescent Catechesis (NIAC) which produced the following outcomes through 2018:

  1. Developed and published through each organization, ten monographs focusing on various dimensions and issues impacting adolescent catechesis today and compile and publish these into a first volume of articlesSource Book on Adolescent Catechesis: Volume 1. (Completed Summer 2008).
  2. Convened a National Symposium on Adolescent Catechesis, a think-tank comprised of a select and culturally diverse multidisciplinary group of 100 leaders representing parish, school, diocesan and national organizations, bishops, academicians, parents and publishers who addressed the key question: “What is necessary for effective adolescent catechesis in the Catholic Church given the current and emerging environments in the United States?” (Completed Fall 2008).
  3. Published a second volume containing the major Symposium synthesis papers and addresses from the Symposium, the Symposium outcomes, and the next steps which emerged from the Symposium dialogues. Published as Source Book on Adolescent Catechesis: Volume 2 (Completed Summer 2009).
  4. Conducted research using insights and outcomes from the National Symposium and published the research results on our NIAC website (Completed in 2013)
  5. Conducted training in-services for diocesan, parish and school leaders using newly developed insights, resources, and assessment and training tools arising from the previous steps of the National Initiative (Completed in 2014).
  6. Published a national document on adolescent catechesis that serves to guide future efforts at engaging and accompanying young people on the road toward missionary discipleship. Published as: The Joy of Adolescent Catechesis (Completed 2017).
  7. Conducted a free webinar series on the Joy of Adolescent Catechesis and its implementation (2017-18).

A Vision for Adolescent Catechesis

The following vision and outcomes statement was developed by the PAC to guide the direction of faith formation with young people in the United States. It is published in The Joy of Adolescent Catechesis (2017)


Young people grow in their Catholic faith by falling in love with the person and message of Jesus Christ, and mature in faith when they let that love form and transform them within the Church, a community of disciples.  Adolescent catechesis is one stage of a lifelong process of embracing the Catholic way of life that forms young disciples by empowering them to know and follow Christ in their daily lives, thus becoming leaven for the Kingdom of God in the world. The following are foundational and interdependently connected elements in this process:

  • Empowered Parents and Faith-Filled Families:  Catholic parents and families must be primary in thinking, planning, and programming so that they are empowered to develop a rich and vibrant Catholic faith within the home as domestic church.  Parishes serve as lifelong partners with parents in this effort ;
  • Vibrant, Youth-Friendly Parishes:  Youth must find welcome and meaningful engagement in parishes alive with rich and vibrant faith, requiring collaboration among parish leaders working together for the renewal of parish life;
  • Fruitful Partnerships: Because “it takes a whole church,” intentional and mutual partnerships must be formed and nurtured among parents, parishes, dioceses, Catholic schools, apostolic movements and adolescents working toward a common goal;
  • Comprehensive Ministry to Youth with Intentional and Systematic Faith Formation:  Innovative, comprehensive learning approaches and dynamic resources must be developed along with effective and well-formed adults willing to apprentice (acompañar) young people in the faith
  • Inclusion, Trust and Acceptance:  An environment of inclusion, trust and acceptance must be fostered in parishes, schools and the larger community, embracing young people and families from different cultural, racial and ethnic backgrounds .

This vision of adolescent catechesis calls for nothing less than re-imagining current faith formation and pastoral ministry efforts with young people and their families. It requires leaders at all levels to engage in honest assessments of current efforts and systems in order to create new relationships and patterns of ministry which work together to form disciples of Jesus Christ.


The effectiveness of parish, school and family efforts in adolescent faith formation can be assessed by witnessing faith communities alive with young people who demonstrate their love for God and their Catholic faith by:

  • Sustaining a personal relationship with Jesus Christ supported through regular prayer, faith sharing and scripture reading.
  • Sharing the Good News through words and actions, through Christian service and working for peace, justice and human dignity.
  • Participating fully, consciously, actively and regularly in the celebrations of the sacramental life of the Catholic Church.
  • Articulating the fundamental teachings of the Catholic faith and demonstrating a commitment to learning and growing in this faith.
  • Applying Catholic ethics, virtues, principles, values and social teaching to moral decision- making, life situations, and in interactions with the larger culture.
  • Discerning and using their gifts to actively belong to and participate in the life and mission of the parish, school, and larger community.
  • Celebrating cultural/racial and ethnic diversity as a gift from God, and pursuing the development of Christian community across cultural/racial and ethnic backgrounds in their parishes, schools, and broader communities.
  • Exploring God’s call to vocation through prayer, reflection, and discernment.

Adolescent Catechesis Vision, Outcome and Indicators Document – Outcomes should have specific indicators, behaviors or beliefs that serve as signs of the outcome in young people. These indicators can point to growth and progress as well as serve as the starting point in developing processes and attitudes that foster the outcomes.

Catechetical Documents








PAC Produced Research and Surveys

A Faithful Challenge: A Longitudinal Analysis of the National Study of Youth and Religion Sample of Catholic Adolescents and Emerging Adults in Light of the Outcomes for Adolescent Catechesis – This study analyzes how NSYR Wave 1 Catholic teenagers were formed in faith and the impact of that formation on Wave 3 Catholic emerging adults in light of the eight outcomes. Two things stand out, among the findings of this analysis. First, the positive impact of any faith formation effort including Catholic School, Parish Religious Education, Youth Group, and Confirmation Preparation Programs versus none is clear in this analysis, indicating the Church must continue to be faithful and intentional in its efforts to catechize its young members. Second, formation by committed parents in the teenage years has the most significant impact on forming faith-filled emerging adults.

Confirmation Celebration Age in the U.S. – These are the preliminary reports on the average age of confirmation in Roman Catholic dioceses nationally as of 2010. This report was the result of a voluntary survey sent to diocesan Directors of Religious Education and Directors of Youth Ministry. The reports are divided by episcopal region. The full national report is linked above.