Catholic Religious Education 2000 Study

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Sun, 12/01/1991
End Date: 
Tue, 03/31/1992

Among the many changes in Catholic life resulting from the Second Vatican Council was the development of new methods of religious education. In order to examine these developments and determine what further changes could be made to enhance Catholic catechesis, George Elford designed the Catholic Religious Education 2000 study. His research centered upon five major questions pertaining to present and future religious education in the United States. First, the study attempted to determine what kinds of persons best embodied the aims of Catholic religious education. Second, researchers probed the extent to which religious education programs contributed to the formation of exemplary Catholics. They surveyed active parishioners and younger Catholics. In the third part of the project, researchers attempted to identify problems facing religious educators. They developed a list of 30 possible problems based on input from leaders in religious education and asked bishops and diocesan educators to rate the seriousness of the problems. Clusters of problems identified as particularly serious related to lay staffing, confusion about mission and purpose of Catholic religious education, financial worries, and questions of emphasis and evaluation, and pedagogical difficulties. The fourth part of the project sought to identify important characteristics of Catholic religious education. Based on surveys of parishes and catechists, researchers concluded that religious education/catechesis is being conducted on a large scale by lay volunteers who are often women. In general religious educators enjoy high morale and are open to change. Finally, researchers investigated Catechists' ability to use new educational technologies effectively. Based upon their findings in this study, the ETS researchers developed a set of nine recommendations on how to improve religious education/catechesis. Among these are changing the process's name to catechesis, developing standards for catechist training and for resources available to catechists, and charging substantial fees for religious education programs.