By Claudia Mathis
Bob Walters, Diocesan Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, is excited and pleased about the launching of YOUCAT, a new youth catechism based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC, 1997 edition).
“It’s an untapped resource,” said Walters. “I’m thrilled to be able to offer it in order to assist parents in discipling their teens.”
The office of youth and young adult ministry has introduced YOUCAT as a Year of Faith resource for youth and youth groups.
YOUCAT catechism is written in language that is suitable for young people and explains the Catholic faith as it was presented in the Catechism.
The book, entitled YOUCAT, was published in 2010 under the editorial direction of the Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Cardinal Schonborn.
The idea for writing the youth-oriented catechism germinated with the Compendium of Catechism of the Catholic Church, which was presented in 2006 in Vienna. One of the attendees at the press conference stated that the Catechism wasn’t useful to young people and that a catechism that could reach them was sorely needed.
A group of writers came together to devise a basic text based on the Catechism. They discussed the text with 50 young people from all over the world. The content of YOUCAT is based on the everyday faith practices of young people.
Pope Benedict XVI has supported the project from the very beginning. He wrote the forward for the book, which he wholeheartedly recommends that young people read and study.
Walters is in awe of the movement.
“This is the first time that the universal church has ever commissioned a catechism for youth,” he stated. “For the church to take on this role is monumental.”
Walters cited facts from a national study on youth and religion that emphasized the need for a clarification of their basic beliefs.
“Across the board,” Walters said, “people who are 16 to 35 years old don’t know the basics of their faith — they don’t know what they believe.”
He feels the use of YOUCAT will make a monumental difference in the development of the youths’ faith.
“You can’t believe what you don’t know,” said Walters. “The more you know about Jesus, the more you can love Him.”
The book cover is bright yellow. “It’s inviting instead of intimidating,” commented Walters.
The format of the book is unique. The work is structured in a question-and-answer format and numbers after each answer refer readers to the more extensive and in-depth treatments in the Catechism. A commentary following the answer is meant to give the young person additional help in understanding the questions that are discussed and their significance in his or her life. In addition, the new catechism offers pictures, definitions, citations from Scripture and quotations from saints, reliable teachers of the faith and from non-religious authors. At the conclusion of the book, there is an index of subjects and persons.
YOUCAT is divided into four sections: “What We Believe,” “How We Celebrate the Christian Mysteries,” “How We Are to Have Life in Christ” and “How We Should Pray.”
“There’s a wisdom in question-and-answer catechism,” said Walters. “That’s the beauty of YOUCAT — it allows them to probe the depths of their faith, one question at a time.”
Walters provided an example of how to use the catechism in one’s home and also as a youth minister. He suggested having one person read a question out loud and then ask for responses. Then, after reading the catechism answer out loud, ask if anyone has any questions.
Walters said that YOUCAT has been distributed to youth ministers at their regional meetings. He is also working with other dioceses to gather more resources, which will be provided to the youth ministers by the end of January.
He said that there is a big interest in the new catechism and that 500 orders have been placed for the book.
“Schools, parishes and youth groups have ordered them,” said Walters. “Most adults like it. It’s easier for catechists to digest. The more they become comfortable with it, the more they will use it.”