If you have attended Catholic school, learning the teachings and traditions of the church is highly likely part of your curriculum. But what about children that are in public schools and those that don’t have a religion program? How will they know about the word of God and the Catholic faith? Well, that’s what the CCD is for.
CCD stands for the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. It refers to a religious education program set up for all ages and all Catholics. But for many, it was almost exclusively used for children who are not attending Catholic schools, sharing with them the body of doctrine that makes up our faith.
So how did the CCD come to be, and who are the people behind it? More importantly, what has come of it, and how did it help the Catholic church? Continue reading to know the answers to these questions.
What is the History of the CCD?
The CCD started in the 16th century in Milan, Italy. During this time, there was widespread ignorance and indifference toward the Catholic church’s teachings and practices. So to counteract this, devout individuals started to organize groups of priests, laity, catechists, and laymen to teach and share the word of God with the youth, particularly during Holy Days and Sundays in parishes.
The organization was able to give instructions in schools, private houses, streets, and lanes. Pope St. Pius V even encouraged it through the Holy See, recommending its establishment in every parish in 1571. The movement then quickly spread through many cities in Italy, including Rome. It also reached France and Germany.
Many of the great saints in the post-Trent epoch supported the movement and assisted Pontiff, Pius V in setting up the confraternity, including Saint Robert Bellarmine, Saint Peter Canisius, and Saint Charles Borromeo. It was then carried out and improved by succeeding Popes.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Pope Pius X revitalized the confraternity. Like Pope Pius V, he ordered for it to be put up in all parishes in the hopes to help the pastor with mainly lay people helping teach the catechism to children and even adults. This command can be found in the 1917 Code of Canon Law (711.2).
During Pope Pius XI’s pontification, the congregation further ordered national offices and diocesans to be established to support, promote, and coordinate the work of the CCD at local levels.
What are the Benefits of CCD?
For many years, the CCD has taught catechism to children and youth. With this program, those that did not attend Catholic school can know about the teachings of the Church and what makes up our faith and belief. This helped clear up the misunderstandings and questions surrounding our religion and traditions.
The CCD is involved in preparing kids and the youth for the sacraments, including the Eucharist, Reconciliation, and Confirmation. Thus, helping them grow closer to Jesus. It also allows children to actively participate in liturgy and prayer, helping them develop into children who are committed to their faith and the church.
By spreading the word of God, the CCD also helps build a community with the same belief and moral base, bringing all of us together. Furthermore, it offers a safe environment in which the children can learn, grow, and thrive.
Who Teaches CCD Classes?
People who teach religion and CCD classes are called catechists. In some parishes, these are people who are certified as catechists. On the other hand, some parishes have volunteers and lay persons who simply want to help teach the Faith. These are regular people, who may not have answers to everything but have gone through appropriate classes and have prepared well enough for such a solemn responsibility.
It should be noted, however, that while CCD offers religious education, parents still need to teach their children in the Faith. This is because parents have the main role in their children’s education, especially when it comes to religion. This includes taking them to mass, praying with them every day, and becoming good examples for them.
Where is the CCD Now?
The CCD has had significant contributions to the Catholic church, especially in educating children who are attending public schools and preparing them for the sacraments. However, it wasn’t mentioned in the General Catechetical Directory in 1971. By 1975, its structures went into decline, and the confraternity was suppressed. Soon, it was no longer the organized and successful program it was before.
But because of the CCD’s initiative to have lay helpers teach children and the youth on matters of the Catholic faith, the Church saw a real need for providing religious education to its people. And this remains even to this day.
Now, while some parishes still have the CCD program for providing Catechism classes to children and youth, some moved on to offering a bigger, broader, and more comprehensive faith-formation program for people of all ages. This is called Catechesis or Parish Religious Education.
What is Catechesis?
Catechesis, as mentioned in the General Directory for Catechesis (105), is “nothing other than the process of transmitting the Gospel, as the Christian community has received it, understands it, celebrates it, lives it, and communicates it in many ways.” It also mentions that this doctrine, which is conveyed by the ecclesial community, is one. So while the word of God is transmitted in many different cultural idioms and languages, the Gospel and faith which is taught to every Catholic are the same.
Additionally, catechesis allows us to understand the meaning of Christ’s words and actions. In its heart, its true purpose is to put “people in communion with Jesus Christ”. This is because only He can lead us to the love of the Father in the Spirit and make us share in the life of the Holy Trinity. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 426)
That said, each parish has something for everyone in sharing the teachings of the Catholic Church. Whether for children, youth, and adults. There are even classes for those converting from another religion known as the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) classes.