What is Youth Formation?

In the Catholic Church, CCD stands for the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. This was actually an association founded in Rome in 1562 for the purpose of providing religious instruction. (See the Catholic Encyclopedia article here.) While the acronym is still widely used, we prefer to call religious education for teens and young adults simply “youth formation.” Formation is lifelong. The resources used in the Diocese of Tyler are meant to unify and standardize what catechists and parents teach youth ages thirteen to twenty-one. The purpose is to show them that the faith is “ever-ancient, ever-new.”

What Materials Do We Use?

Written by Fr. Justin Braun, the St. Philip Institute has produced The Way of Christ for Teens: “To Whom Shall We Go?” for the Diocese of Tyler. Student texts are only available in English, but the Spanish teacher’s manual (Manual del Maestro) is free online. These texts are engaging and easy for a catechist or teen to use on his or her own. Catechists should cover the material in the lessons from the student book directly. Supplemental materials are also recommended on a separate website.

The Way of Christ for Teens: “To Whom Shall We Go?” is the youth formation year one text for the fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church, the basics of what Catholics believe, and how young Catholics should discern their vocations. The Student Edition has 28 lessons complete with an overview, saint quote, opening prayer, Sacred Scripture and Catechism of the Catholic Church references, lesson content, and discussion questions for a full year of catechism classes. The Teacher Edition has the same content as the Student Edition plus teaching suggestions. The lesson plans for each lesson are laid out and ready to use.

Using the time honored method of Lectio Divina and supported by the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, each lesson contains a passage from Sacred Scripture and discussion about doctrinal and spiritual connections in real life situations. With help from the saints and wisdom from catechists, students will engage the life of the Church’s liturgical patrimony and be led through the devotional hallmarks of Catholic piety, including the Rosary, The Stations of the Cross, and Eucharistic Adoration. The goal is to help them solidify the connection between knowledge of and relationship to Christ, the one to whom we go.

Pastors, catechists, and others who have questions about curriculum options for faith formation should contact the Director of Faith Formation, Dr. Luke Arredondo. This new book is only one year, so there is flexibility in the use of other materials.

Fr. Braun explains why he wrote the book!

This curriculum is for high school students in a variety of settings: as part of weekly youth group meetings, in small faith sharing groups, and even in large group faith formation settings. Whether you meet in your parish classrooms, a local coffee shop, or an outdoor picnic, the curriculum leads students through the primary themes of discernment and prayer in the Catholic faith.