A History of the Catechumenate

A History of the Catechumenate: the First Six Centuries, written by Rev. Michele Dujarier, provides timeless information and a rich resource for anyone involved with the RCIA or who wants to learn more about the Church and her history. Published in 1979, this book describes the rise and decline of the catechumenate in the Early Church, various restoration attempts, and achievements in restoring the catechumenate during the past half century.

Christiane Brusselmans, in her introduction to this book, said "I know of no better study of the history of the catechumenate in the early Church existing today."

Of Father Dujarier's approach to the topic, Ms. Brusselmans wrote that "he searches for the practical truth of the matter in order to apply it to his immediate concerns: conversion, faith and baptism as the seal and sign of that conversion and faith."

For the next several weeks this book will appear here in installments so you can journey through the experiences of the early Church as it structured the catechumenate.

If you would like to order the book, please see the Sadlier Religion Catalog.

Table of Contents

Christiane Brusselmans presents a succinct overview of the book and of the history of the catechumenate.

Part 1: The Major Options of the New Testament Era
  • Some Norms from the Initial Period
    This segment reviews the requirements the early Church established for the selection of those in ministry.
  • A Perennial Objection
    This week reviews the centuries old discussion regarding the length and requirements of baptismal preparation.
  • The Requirements for Admission to Baptism
    An examination of the first years of the Church indicates that access to baptism seems to involve two distinct stages and two thresholds.
  • The Jewish Practices
    The religious currents that flourished during the New Testament era and their influence on Christian institutions are examined during this week's segment.

Part 2: The Structuring of the Catechumenate (Second-Third Centuries)

  • An Abiding Concern for Pastoral Authenticity
    This week looks at two early writers who emphasize the need for a period of time to consolidate the conversion and to form the convert.
  • In Rome ca. 150
    This chapter traces the beginnings of what today is known as the "catechumenate."
  • In Egypt ca. 190-200
    The customs and vocabulary that manifest the existence of serious catechumenal formation at this place and time provide the foundation of this week's chapter.

  • In North Africa ca. 200-210
    This week continues the examination of the catechumenal reality in this part of the world during the first centuries.

  • In Rome ca. 215
    The chapter details the thorough catechumenal stages at the beginning of the third century in Rome.

  • In Egypt and Palestine ca. 230-240 Part 1
    This week concentrates on the efforts of Origen and Hippolytus to maintain a catechumenate of quality.

  • In Egypt and Palestine ca. 230-240 Part 2
    Continues the review of that catechumenate in Egypt and Palestine process during this period of Church history.
  • In Syria and Palestine ca. 250
    The practice of catechumenal stages developed spontaneously everywhere as evidenced by documents from this area of the world.
  • At the Dawn of the Fourth Century
    This briefly describes information provided by some councils that confirms the catechumenal pedagogy and indicates a certain relaxation of discipline.

Part 3: The Vicissitudes of the Catechumenate (Fourth-Sixth Centuries)

In the conclusion of his work, Father Dujarier explores the significance of the catechumenal experience of the first six centuries of the history of the Church.


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