The four day National Symposium was held near Baltimore in Linthicum Heights, MD in November, 2008 and served as the second step in a seven year National Initiative facilitated by the Partnership for Adolescent Catechesis, a collective effort by the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, the National Catholic Educational Association, the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership, with support from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Symposium began with a provoking question: “What is necessary for effective adolescent catechesis in the Catholic Church given the current and emerging environments in the United States?” It was hoped that the answers would serve to break free the dam and allow the living waters of adolescent catechesis to flow in new and necessary ways throughout this country.
The one hundred and eighteen academicians, practitioners, and national leaders attending the National Symposium on Adolescent Catechesis proved to be an impressive think tank. Together they represented fifteen national organizations, ten universities, seven publishers, and numerous parishes, schools, diocesan officials and bishops from over thirty-five dioceses. During the Symposium, participants heard from experts in adolescents and catechesis as well as reflections on those practicing in the field and even of young people themselves through video interviews and a live “fish bowl” session. Symposium participants joined in table groups for facilitated discussions covering issues such as the critical cultural realities facing young people, outcomes of effective catechesis, characteristics of the formative community, systems and approaches of catechesis, and emerging directions.