Catholic Educators

Picture of Alfred McBride

Rev. Alfred A. McBride, of the Order of the Canons Regular of Premontre (Norbertines) (1928- ): Author of several seminal books on catechetics in the 1960s as well as a popular presenter on catechetics in the United States immediately following Vatican II and more recently in introducing the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Among his many noteworthy accomplishments is the creation of the Department of Religious Education at the National Catholic Educational Association with associations for both diocesan directors of religious education and parish directors. Fr. McBride's life is a witness to his commitment to insure that the Catholic tradition is faithfully handed on in a systematic and comprehensive fashion.

Biography

Alfred Aloysius McBride was born in Philadelphia on December 12, 1928. His Irish immigrant parents were Charles McBride and Mary Shannon McBride. Charles came from Donegal and Mary emigrated from Roscommon. Alfred was baptized in St. Patrick's Church on December 9, 1930. Due to unfortunate circumstances his parents felt unable to raise him and entrusted him to his widowed aunt, Mary Courtney, and her unmarried brother Michael Corcoran who brought him up.

At age 6, Alfred was enrolled in St. Patrick's elementary school where he was taught by the Chestnut Hill Sisters of St. Joseph. The Church and parish school were situated one block from Rittenhouse Square and just off the business district of central Philadelphia. His parish was founded in 1839 and served the huge flow of Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine. Eventually, many of the parishioners were maids, cooks and coachmen for the wealthy families of that neighborhood. A new, cathedral-size church was built in 1910 and still serves that area.

Alfred's aunt Mary [he called her mom] brought him from a young age to the various evening devotions at the Church. In school he was usually second in his class, except in the fifth grade when he was first. Early on he took piano lessons [25 cents a lesson]. When he was in seventh grade, the music teacher, Sister Alma Christi, asked him if he would like free lessons on how to play the organ. He agreed, only to find out he was soon enlisted to be the volunteer organist for virtually all evening services, including the missions for both men and women and the various novenas and triduums.

At the beginning of his eighth grade Alfred was making his regular confession to Father Graham. After receiving his absolution - and his altar boy assignment for the following week - he heard the priest say, "Al, go across the street to Mrs. Harvey's employment agency. She has a job for you." It turned out to be a job walking an Irish terrier named Skipper owned by Captain Taylor Smith - head of naval intelligence in Philadelphia - and his wife Ellen. Three times a day, during World War II, for the next four years Alfred walked Skipper in the park and became close friends with his Episcopalian employers. They had just arrived from Berlin where Taylor had been naval attaché to the Hitler regime. Taylor never spoke about his assignments, but Ellen was a trove of knowledge about her years in Berlin, giving Alfred a background about the war - and the persecution of the Jews - that was all news to him.

Alfred also acquired jobs delivering dry cleaning for a small firm, sweeping and dusting the floors and pews in his Upper Church and scouring the vigil lights from old wax. He also volunteered to take care of the pamphlet racks, straightening them out, removing non-sellers and ordering new ones. His purchasing standards were simple: Pick popular authors and items that had attractive covers.

Another event in Alfred's eighth grade was competing in a spelling bee at the Jesuit High Preparatory School. His eighth grade teacher, Sister Bartholomew Marie, singled him out for this effort in the hopes that he would win a full scholarship to this prestigious school. One of the last two in the competition, Alfred spelled sagacity - sagacity. The bell tolled and he was finished. In later life, noting he seemed destined for the priesthood, he would say, "It was sagacity that kept me out of the Jesuits." When he sheepishly rang the bell at the convent and Sister Bart opened the door, he told her the bad news. She looked disappointed but her words were wise, "That's all right, Alfred. We will go ahead with your education."

Most of the Catholics in the parish lived in the west end near the Schuylkill River. Alfred grew up in the eastern part where there were few Catholics and not many children. Luckily he found a group of children that huddled around an Italian family - the Moccia's - next door to the Church. The neighborhood boys thought of themselves as the "Rittenhouse Square Gang" who engaged in typical youthful mischief and bonded so well that seven of them stayed in touch over the years and were present at Alfred's Golden Jubilee of priesthood at St. Patrick's in 2003.

In 1942 Alfred enrolled at Southeast Catholic High Schools, owned by the Archdiocese but administered and staffed by the Norbertine Fathers. The school had 1200 boys, 40 Norbertines and a few lay teachers. Most of the Norbertines were young and from Wisconsin. The school buildings were situated in "Little Italy," and the students were a major mixture of boys of Italian and Irish descent with smaller groups whose origins were mainly Polish, German and Lithuanian. All were assigned classes according to their grade school averages.

Alfred wound up in the top class and embarked on four years of religion, English, math, Latin, science and history. Because of his many part-time jobs he had little time for extra-curricular activities and was too small for varsity sports. Still he was enlisted to be a coat-check boy for Saturday night dances and helper with props for the theatricals. He loved spectator sports and was a loyal presence at all basketball and football games. The school band tried to recruit him for the clarinet, but he did not have the "lip."

Gradually he began to show interest in the priesthood. His many years of parish involvement and his exposure to Norbertines five hours a day for four school years laid the groundwork for a vocation. In his senior year, the principal Father De Cleene called him into his office. He said, "Alfred, I believe you have a calling to be a priest. I would be happy to help you become a diocesan priest, or if you so wish, to become a Norbertine." Alfred thanked him and then discussed this at home with Aunt Mary and Uncle Mike. They encouraged him to become a priest. He chose the Norbertines who accepted him into the community as a novice, August 28, 1946. The ceremony took place in the St. Norbert Abbey Church in De Pere, Wisconsin, a town five miles south of Green Bay.

In those days the novitiate was on a ten-acre property on the shores of Lake Monona in Madison, Wisconsin. Farms surrounded the novitiate guaranteeing a feeling of remoteness and quiet. There were eight in his class, five from Philadelphia, one from Delaware and the other two from Wisconsin. Father Leonard Wagner was the novice master. He was raised a farmer and loved hunting and fishing. He taught the "city types" how to uses axes and shovels to dig up tree stumps, clean the chicken house, water the raspberries and other mysteries of husbandry. He augmented the training in prayer and spirituality with an ethic of hard work that included building stone walls by the shore of the lake, a project that lasted many years with successive novice classes.

After the Madison novitiate, Alfred and his class returned to the Abbey in De Pere. They were enrolled in St. Norbert College which was on the Abbey property and bordered the Fox River. Alfred completed two majors – Philosophy and English [with emphasis on British writers]. After graduation his class began their theological training. In those days the theology students at the Abbey were expected to teach two classes a day to students at St. Norbert High School.

Alfred was appointed to teach the juniors English grammar and composition as well as American literature. Each class had about thirty boys, a number of them from nearby farms and all them robustly interested in the Green Bay Packers. Alfred recalled that he arrived one day with a book of the poems of Emily Dickinson. From memory he recited the lines, "I'm nobody, are you nobody too? … "As the boys heard him say he was nobody, they laughed and agreed. It took him the first year to learn how to control his classes. He followed three simple rules: "Don't smile till Christmas. Be well prepared and always follow through with any demands you make. When writing on the blackboard, learn how to keep your eyes on the students." By his second year he realized that thorough preparation and follow-up was the real secret of control and teaching. In recent times he is often invited to class reunions from those years.

Alfred enjoyed the companionship of the young Norbertine community, twenty of whom were in his theology classes. He joined a study group that followed the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas as the teachers addressed each of the great doctrinal topics. It was customary to use what were called "manuals," basically systematic, comprehensive presentations of dogma, morality, and canon law.

Group sports were encouraged. Alfred learned to ice skate on the frozen river and thought he would like to get into a hockey game. The bruises gave him second thoughts, much the same as happened in basketball that was played in a commando style. Then he discovered the joys of tennis singles which he played for the next 45 years. Even there danger lurked when one of his opponents, angry at the loss of a close point, threw his racket across the net barely missing him.

Ordination came on June 20, 1953. Since five of Alfred's classes were Philadelphians, permission was obtained to have the ceremony in St. Edmund's Church in their home town. They were ordained by Cardinal O'Hara. The temperature was 97 degrees and there was no air-conditioning. On an equally hot Sunday, Alfred celebrated his First Mass at St. Patrick's. The choir of men and boys sang the four- part Missa Choralis. The male singers were hired from the Academy of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music, both of which institutions were in the parish. The joy was immense, but also very sad, since his dearly beloved Aunt Mary and Uncle Michael had died two years before. His small family, headed by his first cousin Catherine Dougherty, her husband Frank and their children along with a number of friends were present. A family style dinner was served after Mass in a brownstone restaurant facing Rittenhouse Square.

Alfred's first assignment was as assistant to the pastor of the Abbey church in De Pere. He also continued his teaching at the high school. Father Blaise Peters was the pastor. He was an organized, apostolic and enthusiastic priest and taught Alfred the ropes of parish life. Every night after supper at the Abbey Father Peters reserved a half hour with his young curate talking over the day and imparting his pastoral wisdom. Alfred was given charge of the high school girls' sodality. In his talks to them he thought their attention was due to his inspiring presentations. Later in life they told him that it was his full head of hair and youthful looks that attracted them.

The Abbey owned and operated WBAY AM-FM radio. The Sunday ten o'clock Mass from the Abbey was always broadcast. As a seminarian Alfred had done commentary on the Mass from the little sound proofed booth in the choir loft. Five years into his priesthood, he was asked to be the celebrant and preacher of this Mass, a charge he fulfilled for the next seven years.

In 1959 a new Abbey was built on a 150-acre property donated to the community by Victor McCormick for that purpose. Abbot Killeen appointed Alfred to be the new novice master. His tenure coincided with the burst of vocations that all the dioceses and orders were enjoying. In preparation he spent another year in Madison learning what needed to be done from Father Wagner. A big difference was that the new abbey had neither a lake nor a need for building a stone wall. Alfred emphasized scripture and the liturgy as essential to the spiritual outlook the novices should adopt.

In 1962 he was sent to Brussels, Belgium to study for one year at the Lumen Vitae Institute. Its emphasis on scripture, liturgy and catechetics suited his approach for training the novices. His year there coincided with the opening of Vatican II. The scripture courses highlighted the history of salvation. The liturgy courses emphasized the need for active participation of the laity, the hope for the vernacular and showing how Christ acted through the ministry of the priest in each sacrament.

Catechetics dwelt on the kerygmatic approach, in which God's revelation calls for a faith response from the listener, a dialogue of salvation. Alfred's second book, Catechetics: A Theology of Proclamation, reflected this way of teaching religion.

He discovered that train service in Europe was comfortable and inexpensive. He often set aside weekends to see Holland, Germany and France. His friends noticed his attachment to travel and dubbed him "Alfred of Tours."

Upon his return to the States and to his novitiate job, he created a series of fifteen talks on catechetics which he offered to the Catholic elementary school teachers, mostly nuns. He was invited to repeat the series in Appleton to a similar audience. He had often thought of being a writer. Just after ordination he wrote a series of articles, mostly popular presentation of Bible stories based on his scripture classes at the high school. All were rejected, convincing him that God did not want him to be a writer.

Then one day Abbot Killeen asked him to help with the weekend retreats for high school students held at the new Abbey. He obtained permission to attend a youth retreat conducted by the Christian Brothers in Chicago to see how it is done. During some down-time there he noticed the typewriter in his room went over to it and began to write an article, "The Psalms Are Songs of Faith." He submitted it to Worship magazine which accepted it and published it in their June-July 1964 issue.

Three months later he received an invitation from Bruce Publishers of Milwaukee to visit them to discuss his revising Bishop Elwell's high school religion series. He did not think he could do a satisfactory job on that but used the occasion to meet the editorial staff and plug the idea of publishing his catechetical lectures in book form. Most of the morning was focused on the Elwell project. When he said he was unable to do it, he took from his coat pocket the outline for the book he wanted to do and offered it to them. It was an impolitic moment; having refused them, how could he expect them to accept his proposal? They didn't.

But, on his way out some one said, "Hey Father, do you have any written homilies we could publish?" Bingo! Alfred had copies of many of his radio sermons, so he could say "Yes." The company contracted a book with him which became Homilies for the New Liturgy, and it sold fifteen-thousand copies in hardback. Then they were ready to publish his catechetics book mentioned above.

In the spring of 1966, Alfred received a letter from Father Gerard Sloyan, head of the department of religious education at Catholic University in Washington, DC. Gerard had read Alfred's book on catechetics and knew of his year at Lumen Vitae which in those days was widely admired for its enlightened approach to teaching religion. He invited Al to be a visiting professor in their department for one year. When approached for permission, Abbot Killeen was not enthusiastic, but finally and cautiously said yes, but only for that one year.

Al took up residence in Caldwell Hall that August and prepared to teach a survey of scripture to the university sophomores, an ecumenical/interfaith course to Protestant, Jewish and other non-Catholic freshmen. All students were required to take four courses in religion. The four-semester Judaeo-Christian Studies courses were offered to those who were not Catholic. Al also taught two courses to graduate students: The History of Catechetics and The Human Dimension of Catechetics.

He never dreamed he would be caught up that spring semester of l967 with a strike at the University. The popular professor of moral theology, Charles Curran, some of whose positions were considered unacceptable by the administration was denied tenure even though his application had been approved by various committees including Appointments and Promotions. The denial provoked a crisis that in which the majority of the faculty voted to go on strike in defense of Curran. A week followed in which no classes were taught and Al found himself walking one day in a picket line carrying a sign supporting Curran. Eventually the administration changed its mind and Curran was given tenure.

At a "victory" Mass in the Trinity College chapel which was next to Catholic U, Al was the homilist. He may have assumed too much when he attributed the outcome to the Holy Spirit. One of the priest leaders told him it was their human courage not divine intervention that brought this about.

In the summer of 1968 Al was embroiled in another campus controversy due to Pope Paul VI's encyclical, Humanae Vitae. A protest letter was circulated among the faculty and he signed it. The administration decided to remove any faculty members who refused to retract their protest, which none of them did. A faculty committee was appointed to investigate the situation. They recommended retaining the signers and that was accepted.

Father Sloyan encouraged Al to get a doctorate. "You can only be a visiting professor for three years. After that you need a doctorate to become a university professor and enter the tenure track." Abbot Killeen extended the permission for Al to be visiting professor for three years. Following Sloyan's advice, Al applied for graduate school at CUA and was accepted by the religious education department and was given a university grant for full room, board and tuition. Abbot Killeen himself had a doctorate from the school so he was inclined to approve Al's pursuit, which he did.

Al enjoyed his three years as a graduate student. He liked his courses, the faculty and the leadership of Father Berard Mathaler who succeeded Gerry Sloyan who became a professor at Temple University in Philadelphia. Catholic University permitted Al to keep his two rooms in Caldwell Hall. For his dissertation he did a study of the writings of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. The Rabbi had become a popular lecturer on religious education for both Protestants and Catholics. He was also a social activist, supporting the Civil Rights movement and the opposition to the Viet Nam War. Al's dissertation applied the spiritual and philosophic wisdom of Heschel to the teaching of religion. The Carmelite scripture scholar, Christian Ceroke, was his dissertation director.

Al received a great deal of help from Aileen Gus Grognet. She was converted from Judaism by Archbishop Hallinan and was a director of the Center for Applied Linguistics in DC. She understood the story- telling technique that Heschel used as well as the Jewish cultural background from which he came. Al remains deeply grateful for her exceptional help. At lunch with her after passing his defense of his dissertation, Aileen raised a glass of champagne to him and said, "To Life!"

Al sent a copy of his dissertation to Rabbi Heschel who responded with this hand-written letter: May 23, 1972 Dear Rev. McBride, I have read your dissertation with interest and pleasure. It is a very fine piece of work, perceptive and well balanced. I hope it will find many readers. Is it your intention to publish it? If so it would be good to meet and to discuss some of the ideas.W ith sincere appreciation and warm regards, Sincerely, A. J. Heschel

Regrettably Heschel died on December 23 of that year and Al never had the chance to accept his invitation.

Near the end of his graduate studies Al was invited by Sister Sarah Fassenmeier, head of the school of education to be on a committee to compose a booklet, "The Qualities and Competencies of a Religion Teacher." He became friends with a fellow committee member, Father Jack Meyers, a Dallas priest who was head of the superintendents' office the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) whose offices were at Dupont Circle in downtown Washington, DC.

One day Jack asked him, "What are you going to do with your doctorate?" Al replied, "I really don't know." Jack said, "Why don't you come to NCEA and create a department of religious education for us?" As their conversation progressed, Al became enthusiastic about the offer. He wondered if the president of the association, Father Al Koob, O.Praem, would like the idea of another Norbertine on the staff. As it turned out he did not mind the idea at all. Abbot Killeen liked the idea too, and so Al joined NCEA that autumn.

Al became familiar with the world of administrators and a number of troubles that they faced. Catholic schools were in crisis due to the transition from faculties of women and men religious to lay teachers. Widespread experimentation in liturgy and the loss of emphasis on doctrinal content in religious education caused confusion. Catholic identity was at stake. Too much change too fast took its toll.

Barely a month after Al joined NCEA in 1972, a tragedy occurred. Al Koob fell through a sidewalk grating and suffered multiple injuries and slight brain damage. He tried to make a comeback at the office but could not cope. Koob resigned and retired to Daylesford Abbey in suburban Philadelphia. The board selected Jack Meyers as next president.

Al needed a good deal of coaching to get up to speed in his new job. He received guidance from Jack Meyers, the newly appointed president, as well as other staff members: George Elford, a former superintendent of schools and engaged in research; Frank Bredeweg a skilled business manager and presently a financial consultant to the schools; Frank Barrett, a veteran administrator and now head of the superintendents' office. This group met for lunch at least three times a week. It was like an informal seminar for the "new kid on the block." Monthly staff meetings and the annual retreat rounded out Al's training.

Al formed a national association of diocesan directors of religious education and a similar one for parish directors. Each group had a board of directors that met periodically. The diocesan association met annually in winter in a warm place. It was a working meeting where a topic was chosen - such as evangelization - and ideas were voiced and summarized with a view to publication. Alfred took the results and wrote a booklet based on them. These booklets were published by NCEA and enjoyed wide circulation.

The annual convention now included a religious education component organized by Al. In time this grew substantially with offerings for parishes, schools and administrators. Cooperation with the religious education office at the Bishops' Conference was a priority. When that office published the influential pastoral letter, "To Teach as Jesus Did," Al's office organized an NCEA traveling workshop that offered practical applications of the bishops' pastoral and presented them in 25 cities over a period of two years.

George Elford and Jack Meyers believed there should be a religion test for graduating eighth graders. Al was asked to oversee this project that would evaluate the beliefs, attitudes and practices of the students. Al convened a week- long meeting of leaders from schools, parishes and dioceses to discuss the issues and gain support for the project and overcome strong resistance to the idea. The Educational Testing Service would create the test format and do the correcting and reporting the results to the teachers and administrators. This project has endured for over 35 years. Tests were also devised for high school junior and fifth graders. This project was part of the long road back to a systematic, comprehensive religious education.

In the winter of 1977 Al obtained a sabbatical for the 8 week Hilary term at Oxford University. He lived at Campion Hall, the Jesuit residence, known for having been designed by the respected architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. Al learned that students enrolled in the university were instructed by a tutor and not required to attend lectures. Each student was able to take two tutorials a term. Almost every don each year was required to offer at least one series of eight lectures in his field. Often these were summaries of a field that students could use in preparing for an examination.

Al discovered that dozens of lecture series were available each term and they were open to the public. Among the series that he chose were two memorable ones. The first was on the comedies of Shakespeare delivered by Dr. Wilders who had been trained as an actor as well as an academic. His large lecture hall was always filled and his absorbing talks were a marvel of timing.

The other series was delivered by Dr. John MacQuarrie on the subject of Christology. Unlike most lecturers who gave only one talk a week, John presented three. His Scotsman's burr and remarkable clarity about difficult theological points marked him as an engaging teacher. He held the Lady Margaret Chair of theology at Christ Church College that was built by Cardinal Wolsey just before the Reformation. This distinguished appointment included a three storey home in the quadrangle during his tenure in the post. One of the perks of the course: Al had dinner with John and his wife at their home.

During his term at Oxford, Al attended Cardinal Suenens' retreat for the University. It was the first time since the Reformation that a Catholic was invited to do so. Suenens chose as his theme, "Your God and Mine." He preached his sermons in the Sheldonian Theater, named after Archbishop Sheldon who paid for it and designed by Christopher Wren who also was the architect of St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Each day Suenens visited the various colleges on the campus and held informal discussions with students. On the final night the officers of the university in colorful robes attended his sermon. The service concluded with a soaring hymn to the Holy Spirit, Come Thou O Love Divine. Al asked one of the senior dons what he thought of Suenens. He replied, "The best we've had since Temple." He referred to the revered Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple, [d. 1944] whom George Bernard Shaw admiringly called a "realized impossibility."

After seven years at NCEA and six years at the university, Al felt the need to return to his community which he did in 1979. For the next four years he served as a planner for St. Norbert Abbey and its ministries. This involved planning the annual chapter meeting of the community as well as serving on the boards of St. Norbert College, Abbot Pennings and Premontre high schools as well as the abbot's council.

In 1983 Al received a letter from Archbishop Robert Sanchez who resided in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Sanchez asked if he would be interested in becoming president of the University of Albuquerque. It was a small Catholic institution founded by the Franciscan Sisters of Colorado Springs in 1950. Al traveled to New Mexico to meet with the archbishop and the board members. He liked the challenge though, as things turned out, he did not realize how difficult it would be. Abbot Mackin supported the idea, and Al became president of the school in 1983.

It was a small institution of 1500 students, half of whom were part-time adult students. The problems were too numerous to mention here, other than to state that finances were the major concern. There was no endowment and cash flow was a constant worry in a tuition driven school. By the end of his third year there, the money crisis was grave. The board and archbishop devised a plan to try for one more year. The following year it was clear the school needed to be closed. Al presided over the grim situation. The State University of New Mexico offered to house the student records. A College Fair helped in relocating the present students and a Job Fair provided employment for most of the staff. Relocating faculty members was not so easy and some did not find new teaching jobs.

A few weeks before the school closed its doors a young man, angered by the rejection of his girl friend, entered a classroom at the nursing school. Holding a gun he ordered the students to leave, all except his girl. She ran in panic. He shot her in the back and then shot himself in the head. Al was at the scene a few minutes after it happened. They were still alive and he did what he could to minister to them. A medical helicopter flew them to the hospital where they died soon after. It was a tragic event that accentuated the sorrow over the end of the university.

On the brighter side Al made a number of friends in that community. Though his fundraising was too little and too late, Al did have some minor success. He became accustomed to visit potential donors, making the pitch and asking for a certain amount of money. Often the prospects were people of other denominations. One of the couples were puzzled and said, "But Father, we're Methodists." "I know," he replied, "there is a Methodist in my madness." They did pledge a donation.

Earlier in that last summer, Al received a call from Father Tom Gallagher, secretary for education at the Bishops Conference in DC. He invited Al to a one-day meeting in Washington to discuss the catechesis meant to prepare people for the second pastoral visit of the Pope to the United States. It was a lively meeting dominated by grievances about Pope John Paul's opposition to women's ordination and some other matters. But after lunch the venting was over and the members settled on various themes that could be used. Later that summer (1986) when Tom heard of Al's leaving Albuquerque; he offered him the post of writing the catechesis and partaking in other aspects of the preparation. With the Abbot's approval, Al went to DC and began working on the catechesis.

As matters turned out, Al was also asked to be a special representative of the bishops to the media during the pastoral visit. The pope would travel to the nine American cities on Shepherd One, while some of the media flew on Shepherd's Two and Three. Al was on number Two. His main task was to be available in the media center of each city, always located in a hotel ballroom designated for the purpose. The pope's first meeting was with the clergy in the Miami cathedral. Father Frank McNulty spoke on behalf of the priests and hinted at the possibility of having married clergy. John Paul replied, "It's a long, long road to Tipperary."

Al recalled that Joel Berger of the New York Times interviewed him several times about issues raised by the Pope. Joel would then come back to him to verify statements Al had made. Yet, somewhat paranoid, Al checked the next day's Times. No surprises. Each day he would be permitted to attend an event to get the feel of the crowd reactions and the pope's appearances. He chose an airport arrival event in Monterey that enabled him to shake hands with the mayor, Clint Eastwood, while waiting to shake the pope's hands. It "made his day" twice.

As this phase of his life concluded, Al received an invitation from Paulist Father Alvin Illig, founder of their DC-based evangelization office and inspired by Pope Paul VI's document on the topic. Al worked three years with them, teaching a course on evangelization and editing a tabloid newspaper, "Information From…Name of Parish," that was filled with ideas for evangelizing and tailored to news from the subscribing parish. He also wrote a question and answer catechism column for their popular Share the Word magazine and helped out in various projects. After three years his catechism columns were put in book form and titled "Invitation: The Search for God, Self and Church." It was a Catholic Learning Guide for Adults that was published in l984. Its third edition was published in 2006.

One of Al's best Norbertine priest friends, Roman Vanasse, had been named Spiritual Director of the World Wide mission called Aid to the Church in Need. It was founded by Norbertine Father Werenfried Van Straaten after World War II to provide food, clothing and Sacraments for the thousands of refugees who fled west from the countries behind the Iron Curtain. In time the organization devoted itself to the spiritual needs of Catholics behind the Iron Curtain or anywhere in the world where the Church was being persecuted.

In a phone discussion with Roman the topic of a spiritual director for the U.S. branch of the mission came up. Al expressed interest and soon he found himself in this new post. The national office was in Rockville Center, NY. Robert Lulley was in charge of the operation. Al's main responsibility was to preach in parishes around the country about the needs of the people served by the organization. It also allowed him time to write six brief, popular commentaries on the four Gospels, Acts and the book of Revelation. Because he was known to be a prolific writer, he was often asked how many books he wrote, to which he replied, "Alas, quantity is not the same as quality."

In 1992 the Vatican published the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a pet project of Pope John Paul II that involved consultations with the world's bishops. A colleague and former student of Al's, Father James Hawker, archdiocesan director of religious education, asked him if he would be willing to spend a year in Boston introducing people to the new catechism. He emphasized that Cardinal Bernard Law was very interested in this plan. It was an attractive invitation to be active in promoting this historic document, the second such universal catechism in Church history. His abbot approved accepting this call.

Al sought a seminary setting for his residence and was welcomed to Pope John XXIII Seminary in Weston, MA. The rector, Msgr. Connie McCrae, asked him to teach one course each semester. Always wanting to teach, Al complied with the request and taught courses on "The Priest in Catechetical Ministry" and the "History of Catechesis." His work with the archdiocese included study days on the new catechism for regional meetings of Catholic elementary and high school teachers, parish program teachers, campus ministers, diocesan clergy and other groups. Despite some controversy about the need for a catechism and fears that it would impede progress, the acceptance was largely positive. Its subsequent importance and successful influence has grown cumulatively through the years.

At the end of that year, Msgr. Francis Kelly was appointed as new rector of the seminary. Frank was a student of Al's at Catholic University and later his successor at NCEA and a long time personal friend. Frank asked him to stay on at the school as full time faculty member. In saying yes, Al felt a little like the "man who came to dinner - and stayed." Cardinal Cushing had founded the seminary as a school for "late vocations." The cardinal did not do this to offset a shortage of priests for he had none in his time; he simply believed that God was calling older men to priesthood and there should be a place for them.

Al commented on the student body, "Today we speak of them as "second career" vocations: men who have been doctors, lawyers, military officers, bankers, teachers, psychologists, widowed and single, business executives, research biologists, computer analysts, etc. The seminary enrolls 70-75 students each year and there is a two-level screening process, the first conducted by the sponsoring diocese or religious order and the second by the seminary itself. Attrition is small and stability is the rule. Because of their age the style of teaching is as an adult education model. The results are impressive and confirm the vision of Cushing."

Al developed a number of electives during his nine years at Pope John: Apologetics, Images of Mary, Book of Revelation and Catechetics. His regular offerings were the homiletics courses, one for the first year men and the other for the third year men, meaning he taught all the students two courses in preaching. Everyone was expected to preach every week for each course. All talks were video-taped and reviewed individually with Al. He told them he could not make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, but he could make a cotton, nylon or linen one.

The balance of academics, liturgy, prayer and spiritual direction and exercise contributed to a satisfying community and fellowship. There were no walls dividing faculty and students, though mutual respect was maintained. Most weekends throughout those years Al helped out at Sacred Heart parish in Quincy just south of Boston and the site of the colonial home of John Adams. Al's close friend and the pastor of Sacred Heart parish, Father Neil Heerey, died two years after Al's arrival.

Later on the priest abuse crisis hit Boston with the severity of a tornado. Al who liked to give cheerful homilies at Sacred Heart knew that he needed to address the painful issues several times in those three years, acknowledging the tragedies and yet insisting, "It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness."

In 2003 Al celebrated his golden jubilee as a priest. At 74 he decided it was time to go home to De Pere and rejoin his community. He said that his nine years at the seminary were among the happiest of his life.

Back in De Pere his request for residence at St. Joseph Priory on the campus of St. Norbert College was granted. He hoped to withdraw from a full time post but soon was offered several new jobs which he refused. At the same time he remained on the Board of Good Will Publishers in Charlotte, NC, and was appointed to the Board of Trustees at St. Norbert College and the Board Directors of Our Sunday Visitor and the U.S. Bishops' Committee on catechesis.

He serves as one of the cantors of morning and evening prayer at the Priory, looks after the gardens and actively participates in the life of the community, serving on the government committee and being a liaison between the Norbertine Associates and the professed community. He has completed two manuscripts for publication, "A Short History of the Mass" for the St. Anthony Messenger Press and "How to Preach Better, Briefer, Bolder," [With a preface from Archbishop Timothy Dolan] for Our Sunday Visitor. These works are planned for publication in Spring 2007.

He continues to give the annual retreat to the first year seminarians at Blessed John XXIII Seminary and accepts two parish missions a year. He has been the invited presider for the Holy Week Triduum at St. Thomas the Apostle parish in Millis, MA, for over 12 years thanks to the generosity of the pastor, Father Henry Chambers. Al also volunteers to celebrate a radio Mass twice a week at the Relevant Radio headquarters in Green Bay. The Catholic radio network, founded in 2001 by Mark Follett, reaches a potential audience of 26 million people in Wisconsin, Twin Cities, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Long Island, New York City, Newark, New Haven, Ft, Myers and Naples, and is expanding. Its motto is, "Bridging the gap between faith and everyday life." It programming is a lively mix of talk shows on a variety of faith and life topics.

For many years Al was a tennis player, jogger and downhill skier. After an arthroscopy of his left knee that scraped away a torn meniscus and some arthritis, he has taken up walking as much as eight hundred miles a year. He likes chocolate sundaes and a nip of scotch in the evening. He reads a lot of mystery stories, biography, history and anything he can find on St. Augustine, whose commentaries on the Psalms he often reads on the internet to accompany his praying the hours.

He remains particularly grateful to his prayer sisters at the Sioux City Carmel in Iowa. He first wrote to them in 1953 and received Sister Gabriel Dolan for 25 years. After her death, Sister Therese took over for 25 more years until her own death. Sister Jeanne Marie is his latest prayer friend. Their Order has been enormously beneficial for the spiritual growth of priests, and Al has known their power in his life.

He praises God for his family and friends and a number of special people who reached out to him and helped make him the man he is. He prays every day the favorite words of Abbot Bernard Pennings, founder of his Abbey, "Not unto me, not unto me, O Lord, but to your name be the glory."


Bibliography

Books

  • McBride, A. (l964). Homilies for the new liturgy. Milwaukee: Bruce.
  • McBride, A. (l966). Catechetics: A theology of proclamation. Milwaukee: Bruce.
  • McBride, A. (l968). A short course on the Bible. Milwaukee: Bruce.
  • McBride, A. (l968). Human dimension of catechetics. Milwaukee: Bruce.
  • McBride, A. (l970). Growing in grace (A Bible history). Charlotte, NC: Good Will Publishers.
  • McBride, A. (l971). The pearl and the seed church history. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
  • McBride, A. (l973). Heschel: Religious educator. Denville, NJ: Dimension Publishers.
  • McBride, A. (l978). Creative teaching in Catholic education. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
  • McBride, A. (l979). Death shall have no dominion (Death studies course for secondary school). Dubuque: W. C. Brown.
  • McBride, A. (l980). Fulfillment of the promise (Church history). Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Press.
  • McBride, A. (l981). Saints are people. Dubuque: W. C. Brown.
  • McBride, A. (l981). Staying faithful. Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press.
  • McBride, A. (l981). The Christian formation of the Catholic educator. Washington, DC: NCEA Press.
  • McBride, A. (l983). (Revised Edition, l996). The story of the church. Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press.
  • McBride, A. (1984). Invitation: Catholic learning guide for adults. Washington, DC: Paulist National Catholic Evangelization Association Press. (Revised Edition in light of the new Catechism, l994).
  • McBride, A. (1983). Year of the Lord Cycle A homilies. Dubuque: W. C. Brown.
  • McBride, A. (1983). Year of the Lord Cycle B homilies. Dubuque: W. C. Brown.
  • McBride, A. (1983). Year of the Lord Cycle C homilies. Dubuque: W. C. Brown.
  • McBride, A. (1990). Father McBride homily reflections, Cycle A. Green Bay, WI: James Alt Publishers.
  • McBride, A. (1990). Father McBride homily reflections, Cycle B. Green Bay, WI: James Alt Publishers.
  • McBride, A. (1990). Father McBride homily reflections, Cycle C. Green Bay, WI: James Alt Publishers.
  • McBride, A. (l991). Pilgrim age 2000, A celebration of faith. Published by Pauline books and Media 1999. [Commissioned by the Archdiocese of Boston in preparation for the Millennium].
  • McBride, A. (1991). The seven last words of Jesus. Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press.
  • McBride, A. (l991). The gospel of the Holy Spirit, meditation and commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Press.
  • McBride, A. (1991). The divine presence of Jesus, meditation and commentary on the Gospel of John. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Press.
  • McBride, A. (l991). The human face of Jesus, meditation and commentary on the Gospel of Luke. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Press.
  • McBride, A. (l991). To love and be loved by Jesus, meditation and commentary on the Gospel of Mark. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Press.
  • McBride, A. (l991). The kingdom and the glory, meditation and commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Press.
  • McBride, A. (l992). The second coming of Jesus, meditation and commentary on the Book of Revelation. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Press.
  • McBride, A. (l993). Images of Jesus, ten invitations to intimacy. Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press.
  • McBride, A. (l994). Essentials of the faith, A guide to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Press.
  • McBride, A. (l996). Father McBride's teen catechism. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Press.
  • McBride, A. (l996). A retreat with Pope John XXIII. Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press.
  • McBride, A. (l997). Father McBride's family catechism. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Press.
  • McBride, A. (l997). Images of Mary. Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press.
  • McBride, A. (l998). Millennium: End of time? A new beginning? Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Press.
  • McBride, A. (l999). Pilgrimage 2000, A celebration of faith. New York: Pauline Books.
  • McBride, A. (1999). Celebrating the Mass. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Press.
  • McBride, A. (2001). Catholic beliefs from a to z: An inspirational dictionary. Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press.
  • McBride, A. (2004). The Holy Eucharist prayer book. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Press.
  • McBride, A. (2004). Teen guide to the Bible. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Press.
  • McBride, A. (Spring 2007). A short history of the Mass. Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press.
  • McBride, A. (Spring 2007). How to preach better, briefer, bolder. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Press.

Articles

  • McBride, A. (1964, June-July). Psalms are songs of faith. Worship, 427-29.
  • McBride, A. (1965, July 7). The living room pulpit. Ave Maria, 8-9.
  • McBride, A. (l967, April) The secular meaning of Easter. Religion Teachers Journal, 16-17.
  • McBride, A. (1969, August 3) See the children you are looking at. Catechesis Today, 1-4.
  • McBride, A. (1969, November) The strategy of Christian hope. The Lamp, 17-19.
  • McBride, A. (1971, December). Faith: Death or Easter. Momentum, 14, 16.
  • McBride, A. (l972, April 13). The challenge of the Jesus movement. Origins.
  • McBride, A. (l972, May). What is religious education? Momentum, 24-28.
  • McBride, A. (1972, May). After the secular city: The new quest for God. The Lamp, 15-17.
  • McBride, A. (l972, August 10). The catechetical movement: A recent history. Origins.
  • McBride, A. (1972, October). Rescue mission for Catholic schools. People (Journal of the National Council of Catholic Laity), 5-6.
  • McBride, A. (l972, October). Universal faith: Particular religion. Momentum, 22-26.
  • McBride, A. (l973. October). First confession: Seven reminders. Momentum, 22-26.
  • McBride, A. (April 21, l973). Values are back in the picture. America, 359-61.
  • McBride, A. (l973, Summer). The national dimension of religious education. Notre Dame Journal of Education, 101-3.
  • McBride, A. (l973, Summer). The nature of the church and its educational mission. Notre Dame Journal of Education, 293-5.
  • McBride, A. (1973, October) First confession: Seven reminders. Momentum, 23-26.
  • McBride, A. (1973, December). Moral education and the Kohlberg thesis. Momentum, 22-27.
  • McBride, A. (l974, February). 20 tips for adult education. Momentum, 22-26.
  • McBride, A. (1974, March). Religious experience: Public utterance and dogma development. American Ecclesiastical Review, 162-176.
  • McBride, A. (l974, Spring). Trends in religious education: Planning for the coming decade. Living Light, 17-26.
  • McBride, A. (1974, June 13). Putting the future into planning. Origins, 33, 35-7.
  • McBride, A. (1974, October) The new evangelization and youth. Momentum, 24-29.
  • McBride, A. (1975, May) Spiritual education: Fowler's stages of faith. Momentum, 22- 25.
  • McBride, A. (1975, September). Your media library. Catholic Library World, 152-3.
  • McBride, A. (1975, September). A fond farewell to questions. Catechist, 5-8.
  • McBride, A. (1976, February). Should everyone teach religion? Momentum, 31-4.
  • McBride, A. (1976, April 18). Catholic schools an experience in faith. Our Sunday Visitor, 3.
  • McBride, A. (1976, April 18). Catholic schools: an experience in faith. Our Sunday Visitor, 3.
  • McBride, A. (1976, October). A new future for CCD. Momentum, 5-8.
  • McBride, A. (1976, March). Preparing teachers and administrators for the field of religious education. Horizons, 59-64.
  • McBride, A. (1976, March). America's spiritual illiterates. Catechist.
  • McBride, A. (1976, September 12). How to reach our uninstructed youth. Our Sunday Visitor, 1-5.
  • McBride, A. (1977, February). NPCD: A fifth anniversary present. Momentum, 32-34.
  • McBride, A. (1977, February). Surviving by not surviving. St. Anthony Messenger.
  • McBride, A. (1977, March 27). Many peoples, shared faith. Our Sunday Visitor, 1.
  • McBride, A. (1977, March). Adult education: A ministry to life cycles. Religious Education.
  • McBride, A. (1977, October). The Eucharist and youth ministry. Momentum, 26-29.
  • McBride, A. (1977, October). Adore the Lord and make friends. Catechist.
  • McBride, A. (1978, December) Catechists and the charismatic movement. Catechist, 28-29.
  • McBride, A. (1979, March 18). Symbolic events are signs of the times. Our Sunday Visitor.
  • McBride, A. (1979, April 8). No more religious illiterates. Our Sunday Visitor, 6.
  • McBride, A. (1979, October). Recommitment to the educational ministry. Momentum, 39-41.
  • McBride, A. (1980, February). How can you improve Sunday homilies? St Anthony Messenger, 22-26.
  • McBride, A. (1980, May). The value neutral Catholic college. Momentum, 31-34.
  • McBride, A. (1980, Summer). The selection of content for homilies. Living Light, 171-4.
  • McBride, A. (l982). 1l Articles for the Know Your Faith series. United States Catholic Conference.
  • McBride, A. (l982). 6 Articles for Hi-Time. Catholicism: Faith of Millions.
  • McBride, A. (1984, February). The church in the year 2000. St. Anthony Messenger, 29-33.
  • McBride, A. (1984, September). Why go to a catholic school? Catholic Update, 1-4.
  • McBride, A. (1986, September). A papal glance at the USA. Columbia, 13-15.
  • McBride, A. (1989, September). The Ten Commandments. Catholic Update, 1-4.
  • McBride, A. (1990, January). Catholic evangelization. Ligourian, 20-24.
  • McBride, A. (1990, February). A utopian vision. Momentum, 51-52.
  • McBride, A. (1990, May). The evangelizing deacon. Deacon Digest, 14-16.
  • McBride, A. (1990, May 19). Stormy councils - peaceful truths. America, 502-4.
  • McBride, A. (1990, May/June). Mary. guiding star of evangelization. Soul, 9.
  • McBride, A. (1990, October). Preaching is hard work. Priest, 14-16.
  • McBride, A. (1991, February).Lent: A journey into the inner self. Catholic Update, 1-4.
  • McBride, A. (1991, March). Why Jesus felt forsaken on the cross. St. Anthony Messenger, 11-14.
  • McBride, A. (May, 1991). Mary of Nazareth. Catholic Update, 1-4.
  • McBride, A. (1991, June 15). Resurrection of religion in the U.S.S.R. America, 650-3.
  • McBride, A. (1992, January 12). A descent into hell. Our Sunday Visitor, 10-11.
  • McBride, A. (1992, November-December). A god in a cave – a child in a temple. Catholic Heritage, 13-17.
  • McBride, A. (1992, December 13).Nine prayer steps to Christmas - a Christmas novena. Our Sunday Visitor, 14-15.
  • McBride, A. (1993, April). A tale of two catechisms. Catholic Heritage, 59-61.
  • McBride, A. (1993, June). The priest as catechetical leader - Part I. Priest, 15-20.
  • McBride, A. (1993, July). The priest as catechetical leader - Part II. Priest, 29-33.
  • McBride, A. (1993, September- October). The four pillars of the new Catechism. Momentum, 49-51.
  • McBride, A. (1993, October). The works of mercy - Jesus' plan for social change. Catholic Update, 1-4.
  • McBride, A. (1994, March/April).When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. Catholic Heritage, 8-13.
  • McBride, A. (1994, June 5). Answering questions about the New Catechism. Our Sunday Visitor, 3.
  • McBride, A. (1994, July/August). The saints of summer. Catholic Heritage, 22-23.
  • McBride, A. (1994, September). Imparting moral virtues - your kids and the catechism. The Family, 19-22.
  • McBride, A. (1994, November). From Mount Sinai to the sermon on the mount. Scripture from Scratch, 1-4.
  • McBride, A, (1994, November-December). Advent customs that prepare us for Christ's coming. Catholic Heritage, 28-30.
  • McBride, A. (1995, May). David: Israel's poet. Scripture from Scratch, 1-4.
  • McBride, A. (1995, September/October). What does the catechism teach us about faith? Lay Witness, 4, 13.
  • McBride, A. (1995, October). Restoring catechesis. Crisis, 30-32.
  • McBride, A. (1996, July/August). Celibacy for the sake of the kingdom. Catholic Heritage, 11-12.
  • McBride, A. (1996, September). Tips for learning more about your faith. New Covenant, 6-7.
  • McBride, A. (1996, November). The role of catechesis in the new evangelization. Lay Witness, 4-5, 20.
  • McBride, A. (1996, November/December). Communion of saints. Catholic Heritage, 15, 33.
  • McBride, A. (1997, January/February). Is there salvation outside the church? Catholic Heritage, 16-18.
  • McBride, A. (1997, March/April). The Easter story as scripture tells it. Catholic Heritage, 29.
  • McBride, A. (1997, April 25). The mission of the Holy Spirit. Boston Pilot, 1.
  • McBride, A. (1997, June 15). How St. Augustine would teach CCD. Our Sunday Visitor, 5.
  • McBride, A. (1997, November-December). The Church teaches Mary was born without Original Sin. Catholic Heritage, 15.
  • McBride, A. (1998, January 4). Year filled with spirit. Our Sunday Visitor, 10-11.
  • McBride, A. (1998, April). The millennial mark of the spirit. Lay Witness, 12-13, 33.
  • McBride, A. (1998, May/June). He ascended into heaven. Catholic Heritage, 29.
  • McBride, A. (1999, January). The four last things. Priest, 10-15.
  • McBride, A. (1999, January-February). Celebrating the feast of the Presentation. Catholic Heritage, 27-29.
  • McBride, A. (1999, April). Our journey to authentic conversion. Lay Witness.
  • McBride, A. (1999, September). The Lord hears the cry of the poor. Lay Witness, 4-5.
  • McBride, A. (1999, September- October). True God from true God: The Nicene Creed. Catholic Heritage, 16-18.
  • McBride, A. (1999, October 8). Who was the man of the year at the turn of the first millennium? Boston Pilot, 15.
  • McBride, A. (2000, March-April). The Resurrection. Catholic Parent, 20-21.
  • McBride, A. 20 columns on Veritatis Splendor by Pope John Paul II. Our Sunday Visitor.
  • McBride, A. (2000, November). What's going on? How catechesis prepares us for liturgy. Lay Witness, 6-7.
  • McBride, A. (2000, Winter). Are we living at the end of time? Catholic Digest, 54-67.
  • McBride, A. (2002, February 11). Should we curse the darkness or light a candle? Boston Pilot.
  • McBride, A. (2002, June). Love God-The first three commandments. Youth Update, 1-4.
  • McBride, A. (2002, July). Cardinal Newman's 200th birthday. Priest, 45-47.
  • McBride, A. (2002, August 7). Love people: Seven of Ten Commandments. Youth Update, 1-4.
  • McBride, A. (2002, September 5). The Church as a communion. Catholic Standard and Times, (Insert 1-4).
  • McBride, A. (2002) I will give you a new heart. Communicator [Norbertine Magazine].
  • McBride, A. (2004, February 5). The four pillars of peace. Origins, 583-4.
  • McBride, A. (2005, Issue 2). The power of prayer. Soul, 24-26.
  • McBride, A. (2005, September 11). Event shows Christianity in Europe is not dead. Our Sunday Visitor, 2.
  • McBride, A. (One Every 2 months 2006). Six articles on the Eucharist. Deacon Digest. Titles: The Last Supper; House Eucharists; Eucharist goes to church; The Mass of the Middle Ages; The Tridentine Mass; The Mass of the Vatican II era.

Excerpts from Publications

McBride, A. (l966). Catechetics: A theology of proclamation. Milwaukee: Bruce. The Introduction.

The catechist stands at a significant juncture in the evangelizing process. Through the catechist funnels the lofty insights of the research theologian, the exciting world of the biblical scholar, the toneless objective findings of the social sciences. The catechists must mediate these to humans whose variety of social, psychological and educational patterns is almost numbing. I want my book to serve as a shout of encouragement to stay on the firing line until the news sounds so good that nations will bend the knee in joy as they become the eschatological congregations of these latter days, affirming Jesus as Christ and Lord.

McBride, A. (l968). Human dimension of catechetics. Milwaukee: Bruce. The Introduction.

My purpose in this book is to speak for the immanent dimension of catechesis. What are the questions raised by the city of man to which catechesis should address itself? What are some of the directions of modern educational theory which could facilitate the catechetical enterprise? How does existential philosophy articulate the human dilemmas that should ultimately know the saving force of Christianity? What is there about the literature of alienation that calls for an evangelical response? …

Speaking for the immanent dimension is not meant to exclude the transcendent, I have done that in my previous work, Catechetics: A Theology of Proclamation. I see this book as complementary to that one. We will never completely solve the ambiguous tension that results from the transcendent- immanent polarities, at least not until the Second Coming. In the meantime we must try to speak to both sides as honestly as we can.

McBride, A. (l994). Essentials of the faith, A guide to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Press. The Introduction.

What is the best teaching method for using the Catechism of the Catholic Church? The Catechism contains no recommendations for any particular teaching method. However, all publishers, writers and teachers should remember this is a revelation- based catechesis. The focus is on the Father's saving action in history through his Son, Jesus Christ, and continued by the Holy Spirit through the Church and the Sacraments. The human response is grace-filled faith. This interaction is a dialogue of salvation between God and humans.

A great variety of methods are suitable for communicating the faith in textbooks and materials guided by the Catechism. These would include:

(1) A scope and sequence of materials spread out over the primary, intermediate, junior high and secondary levels, adapted to the mentality and readiness of the students.

(2) The use of enrichment materials from the Bible, Liturgy, Church history, the lives of the saints, the witness of outstanding believers, the writings of saints and other spiritual authors, appropriate examples from the culture and background of the students.

(3) The use of all the learning faculties of the students: reason, intuition, imagination, logic and memory.

(4) The use of the human experience of the students to involve them in the catechetical teachings under consideration. This method begins where the students are and brings them to where they ought to be. It starts with what they know to bring them to what they do not know. It assumes that the goal and focus of this effort is spiritual growth by knowing Jesus Christ personally and acquiring a knowledge of his message - becoming Catholics who are religiously literate and capable of sharing their faith.

(5) The use of a broad range of new techniques for adult education. Catechesis should not stop with the young, but be a lifelong pursuit of every Catholic adult.


Recommended Readings

McBride, A. (l966). Catechetics: A theology of proclamation. Milwaukee: Bruce.
McBride, A. (l968). Human dimension of catechetics. Milwaukee: Bruce.
McBride, A. (l994). Essentials of the faith, A guide to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Press.

Author Information

Thomas P. Walters, Ph.D.

Thomas P. Walters, Ph.D., received a doctorate in educational psychology from Wayne State University in 1980. He is the academic dean at Saint Meinrad School of Theology, where he also teaches courses in catechetics and religious education. His most recent publications are Living in an Age of Hope: A Profile of Effective Catechetical Leaders (NCEA, 2003) and Lay Ministers and Their Spiritual Practices (Our Sunday Visitor, 2003).

Biola University
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