Handing on the Faith

Master of Arts Students Distribute Catechisms to the Next Generation

On Oct. 11, 1992, Pope John Paul II introduced the Catechism of the Catholic Church to the world, calling it “a very important contribution to that work of renewing the whole life of the Church, as desired and begun by the Second Vatican Council.” Given to the faithful as a “sure norm for teaching the faith,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church offers a faithful and systematic presentation of Church teaching to meet the needs of present and future generations.

In spite of the success of Catechism of the Catholic Church, which was a long-running bestseller, many people remain unaware of the value of this great book. But one group of young adults, led by University of St. Thomas alumni and graduate students, is working to change all of that by seeing to it that the next generation discovers its value, too.

Taking as their starting point the maxim that “faith is a generation away from extinction until it is handed on,” these young alumni – Jason Adkins ‘00,Annamarie Cumpston ‘99 and Stephen Maas ‘00 –formed the Corpus Christi Catechism Fund, a volunteer initiative responding to Pope John Paul II’s call for a new evangelization. The fund developed out of a weekly study group of young adults who wanted to share with others their excitement about the Catholic faith. The goal of the fund is to present a copy of Catechism of the Catholic Church to each of the more than 8,000 people who are confirmed in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis every year.

Adkins, now a student in the Master of Arts in Catholic Studies program, did not discover the value of Catechism of the Catholic Church until coming to St. Thomas as an undergraduate. Neither did Cumpston, who came upon the book during the process of converting to Catholicism. Recognizing the gift that this text is to the Church, they joined forces with Maas, also a student in the Catholic Studies graduate program, and formed the Catechism Fund.

Working under the auspices of Bishop Frederick Campbell, auxiliary bishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the group is seeking to raise $32,000 a year to cover book and administrative costs. A group of volunteers helps to place acknowledgment stickers in each book and to distribute them during the Confirmation ceremony. In the archdiocese, Confirmation is administered at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul and the Co-Cathedral Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. So far, the Catechism Fund has distributed 1,700 volumes last fall and winter, with another 6,500 copies to be handed out in spring 2002.

The work of the Catechism Fund has been favorably received and is beginning to attract notice. The group has been touted in publications such as The Catholic Servant and The Catholic Spirit, and has been featured on the Web site, CatholicExchange.com. In recognition of the group’s work, they were presented the Catholics of the Year award in April by the Catholic Defense League of Minnesota.