Many Faces of Adult Learners (AFL 3)Course Level: Advanced

Course Summary

In Catechesi Tradendae, (On Catechesis in Our Times, #43), Pope John Paul II wrote that the catechesis of adults is "the principal form of catechesis, because it is addressed to persons who have the greatest responsibilities and the capacity to live the Christian message in its fully developed form." In 1999, the bishops of the United States presented us with a pastoral plan for fulfilling the challenge of forming and transforming adults into persons with mature faith. This document is Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us: A Pastoral Plan for Adult Faith Formation in the United States.

Before we can successfully catechize adults, however, we must first understand who the adults in our Church are. In this course we shall briefly explore the elements which determine how we plan for and implement adult learning and faith formation opportunities in our parishes.

This course is part of a specialized Certificate in Adult Formation Leadership and is meant to be taken as part of a sequence. This course presupposes knowledge in the previous courses. Refer to the certificate page for more information.

Successful completion of this course earns 2.5 CEU's. Click here for more information about CEU's.

General Course Objectives

  • To appreciate the impact that the age of adults and the generation into which they are born influence their spiritual and moral views.
  • To appreciate the cultural diversity in our Church and recognize the different ethnic and racial groups which make up a growing number of U.S. Catholics.
  • To become familiar with theories of faith and moral development.
  • To explore the unique faith needs adults experience as they move through young adulthood to their retirement years.
  • To learn about the ways adult perceive and process information.

Course Materials

  • Required Book: Jane Regan Toward an Adult Church: A Vision of Faith Formation Loyola Press (February 2002) ISBN: 0829418067; ISBN-13: 978-0829418064
  • Optional Book: Evelyn Eaton Whitehead and James D. Whitehead Christian Adulthood: A Journey of Self Discovery Liguori Publications ISBN: 076481284X; ISBN-13: 978-0764812842
  • Optional Book: Neil A. Parent A Concise Guide to Adult Faith Formation Ave Maria Press, 2009 ISBN: 1594712085; ISBN13: 978-1594712081

Course Structure and Highlights

  • Week 1: The Adults in Our Church: Ages and Generational Considerations
    • To understand the social, cultural and historical context for religious identity among the four generations of United States Catholics.
    • To examine the differences in attitudes, beliefs and practices among age cohorts.
    • To consider the implications for adult faith formation.
  • Week 2: Cultural Diversity in Our Church
    • To appreciate the challenges and opportunities of the growing cultural diversity in our Church.
    • To identify the various cultural groups that make up the population of the U.S. Church.
    • To recognize the impact of cultural diversity on our planning and implementation of adult learning and faith formation offerings
  • Week 3: Faith Development
    • To become familiar with the developmental theories of Jean Piaget, Robert Kegan, Erik Erikson and James Fowler.
    • To understand James Fowler’s description of faith and the faith stages of adults.
    • To become aware of some of the critiques of Fowler’s theory.
    • To recognize the implications of adult faith development for planning and implementing adult faith formation in a parish.
  • Week 4: Life Meets Faith
    • To recognize the six core human values
    • To understand the life tasks of each decade of adulthood
    • To appreciate the spiritual tasks of the phases of adult life
    • To explore some implications of the characteristics of different adult age groups for adult learning and faith formation
  • Week 5: Adult Learning Styles: Why and How Adults Learn
    • To recognize the various ways adults perceive and process information.
    • To appreciate the factors that help adults have a successful learning experience.
    • To understand three modes of learning.
    • To discover how transformative learning leads to evangelization.