Catechisms for Children and Young Adults
The word “catechism” is derived from an ancient Greek word meaning a “document or text which summarizes and explains doctrine.” It is traditionally used for teaching and reference. The Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes and explains the doctrine of the Catholic Church.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that “Catechesis is an education in the faith of children, young people, and adults which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted, generally speaking, in an organic and systematic way, with a view to initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life.”
Since the adult generation of the Catholic Church has a duty and obligation to catechize – teach the Faith to – children properly so that they may carry forth throughout their own lives, it is only fitting that there are many Catholic catechisms available for children of every age.
The Baltimore Catechism is likely the most familiar children’s catechism to many Catholics. Many adult Catholics remember studying the Baltimore Catechism as children. There are two distinct sets or series bearing the name of Baltimore Catechism: the original Baltimore Catechism and the New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism.
The Original Baltimore Catechism – The Baltimore Catechism was first published in the late 1800s. The books simply titled “Baltimore Catechism” are reprints of the books available in the 1800s. They are divided into topics or “lessons” in a simple, straightforward question and answer format. A selection of basic, core Catholic prayers is also included. There are three books: the Baltimore Catechism Number 1, Number 2, and Number 3. No. 1 is a simplified version intended for grades 4-7, No. 2 is the main edition and is intended for grades 6-9, and No. 3 is an expanded edition intended for grades 10-12.
The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism – This series was based on the original Baltimore Catechisms and was written in the 1960s. The subject matter is the same, however it is presented along with explanations in updated language and a different format to create a strong teaching tool. The questions and answers of the Baltimore Catechism are still used, however they are presented along with explanations in more modern language, a relevant Scripture passage, and questions to answer and discuss to help the child apply the teachings. There are 3 books within this line as well; however, the numbering system is different. The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism No. 0 (also called the First Communion Catechism) is for 1st and 2nd grade, No. 1 is for grades 3-5, and No. 2 is for grades 6-9.
New American Catechism
The St. Joseph New American Catechism is similar in form to the New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism, combining questions and answers about Catholic doctrine with Bible verses, and questions to answer and discuss. However the “Q and A” portions are not based only on the Baltimore Catechism of the late 1800s but also on the “Basic Teachings for Catholic Religious Education” from 1973. In this line No. 0 is again directed at students at the 1st to 2nd grade level, No. 1 is for grades 3-5, No. 2 is for grades 6-8 and No. 3 is for grades 9-12 and beyond.
Aquinas and More is also pleased to carry a selection of illustrated catechisms, ideal for introducing children to the catechism. Some can be used even before children are ready to study books like the Baltimore Catechisms, and can also be used to supplement and encourage interest once they do reach that stage of study. The Illustrated Catechism for Little Children and My First Catechism are ideal first catechisms for children. Both use the question and answer format but are simplified – a great introduction to studying the faith – and include rich illustrations. The book An Illustrated Catechism is a resource that does not use the question and answer format but direct, easy-to-grasp explanations paired with vividly colored pictures.
Mother Mary, a Marian Catechism
Mother Mary is a specialized Marian Catechism. It is directed towards teaching the sometimes difficult to understand Marian doctrines in a way that is accessible and engaging to children. It is full of bright colors and images and is very discussion- and activity-driven to engage a child in studying thoroughly.
St. Patrick’s Summer: A Children’s Adventure Catechism
St. Patrick’s Summer: A Children’s Adventure Catechism is an innovate catechism. It is written in a story/novel format and teaches about the history of the Faith, from the Old Testament through the New Testament of the Bible.
As mentioned above, the Baltimore Catechism No. 3 and the St. Joseph New American Catechism No. 3 are both intended for high school use. Also available is Fr. McBride’s Teen Catechism, which is based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Depending on the teen’s age and what he or she has already studied of the Catechism, he or she may also be interested in the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
View all of our youth catechisms by clicking here.