You are here:   Education > Catechumenate > Catechumenate History

Catechumenate History

Early Church

Small communities took individuals into their company and introduced them to their way of life. Religious persecution prevails and so a strong faith is demanded in face of possible martyrdom.

150 - 200 AD

Initiation begins to take on formal shape and requirements - the beginnings of a "catechumenate' as we know it today. The conversion of Gentiles called for a more comprehensive formation in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Testimonies: 1) first Apology of Justin, 2) Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus.

3-4th Century

Most developed (at least 3 year process). The Peace of Constantine in 315 AD made Christianity legal; now there are large numbers of candidates, but poor quality control.

5th Century

Disintegration of the catechumenate occurs because of a large numbers of conversions and the practice of infant baptism.

16th Century

Dominicans and Augustinians tried to counteract the mass baptisms. In 1538 an Episcopal conference urged pastors to return to missionary principles of ACLU and establish a catechumenate.

20th Century

Revival of catechumenal structures in Africa and France. In France great problems arose because of the large numbers of non-practicing Catholics. In Africa, the White Fathers recognized the need to build the Church from the grass roots.

The Vatican II Council

Called for the reinstatement of the Catechumenate. Bishops' voted on restoration of the catechumenate with a vote of 2,165 Yes's, 9 No's, and 1 null. In 1966 the provisional ritual was distributed followed by the 2nd draft in 1969 which was distributed for experimentation. In 1972 the Vatican promulgated the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults and in 1986 the US bishops approved US additions to the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults and National Statutes and a national plan of implementation.

September 1988

Mandatory implementation of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults in the United States.
Diocese of Buffalo - Sign up for updates