Start a new Study Group

If there is no study group near you, and you wish to start a new study group, please contact the National co-ordinator Máirín Ní Shúilleabháin, who will advise on the initial steps to be taken in your particular area.

With approval from the local bishop, at least one priest spiritual director and facilitator are identified to set up the study group.

The priest spiritual director, with the approval of the local bishop is the link between the bishop (the teacher of the truths of the faith) and the lay faithful.  Where possible it is recommended that more than one priest participate in any group to reduce the pressures due to time constraints of busy parish schedules, but more especially for the spiritual growth, companionship and support which is a key element of the three year programme.  Retired priests are a significant resource.

In the absence of the local parish priest being involved, he is asked out of courtesy to allow the study to take place in his parish.

A study group can be set up in a parish or a cluster of parishes.

The suggestion is that the group meets at a venue such as a parish centre, a religious house etc.  A sense of peace and quiet is essential.  Courtesy demands that we show appreciation for the use of the venue, which is general done by means of a donation.

Once approval from the bishop is received, a spiritual director(s) and facilitator identified and the time and venue agreed, the study group can then be advertised in, for example the Parish Newsletter, church notice boards, flyers, diocesan websites, catholic bookshops, hospitals, libraries etc.  Also by personal invitation, and past/present students often act as ambassadors for the study.

Groups consist of 8 – 20 students, a priest spiritual director and a facilitator (with a background in Catholic theology.  Ideally we would like to have people who have already completed the study involved.

The study is done in the context of prayer, study and evangelisation – this is the beginning of a life-long process in these three key elements.

The group meets weekly on a set evening for 2 hours, generally from 7.30 – 9.30 p.m.

In the preceding week, students study the work set out for the week.

Those present gather around a focal point on which is placed a Crucifix, Bible, a lighted candle, an image of Our Lady and documents of Vatican II

At the beginning of the session, the priest reads the gospel of the following Sunday and gives a short commentary

Students share the key insights of what they have learned from their study

Each student takes responsibility for continuing with the study should they be unavoidably absent

We recommend a daily study of 45 mins. But where this is not possible a block study is undertaken

At the end of each session the priest spiritual director summarises the key points of learning

The evening concludes with Night Prayer of the Church (prepared at the beginning of the study by the facilitator) after which the lights are switched off and the Salve Regina is sung in candlelight.

There may be slight variations from the above process in different groups.

The priest spiritual director commits to doing the study each week and explains and

intervenes during the discussion to clarify or develop points where necessary.

The priest builds up a knowledge of the talents of the members of the group from whom he

can draw support in the parish

The study group work helps the priest to prepare his homilies and helps the priest to develop

a keener pastoral sense

In Ireland as elsewhere the priest needs support and appreciation and he can be assured of

these in the group

The facilitator ensures that the venue is available, that everyone speaks, that no one
dominates, that all the material is covered and the session starts and ends on time.
The facilitator encourages students to share with someone else outside the group an insight they learned during the week, records the attendance and keeps contact details of the students. 
If the group decides, these may be distributed to all in attendance.

Attends punctually every week

Courtesy requires that the student informs the facilitator by text/email if he/she cannot attend

The student commits to studying the assigned work each day.

Makes brief notes of the study of each day

Contributes to the discussion at the weekly session without dominating

Observes confidentiality about personal matters discussed

Supports and prays for the other students in the group

Shares insights from their Catechism studies with their family, work colleagues and others

Takes time to reflect during the three years on how they will contribute to the work of the

New Evangelisation at home, in the Community the workplace, parish and diocese

There is a low drop-out rate

Groups celebrate at Christmas or at the end of the year at individual/diocesan level. This

promotes networking.

Certificates of attendance at the course are awarded by some groups/dioceses at a celebratory

Mass attended by the families of the students

A priest and/or facilitator who is considering setting up a study group is encouraged to visit a

group to experience a session

Presently under review.

When the students finish the course, they are encouraged to get involved in their parish – on

baptism teams,  preparation of children who attend non-Catholic schools for 1st Holy

Communion and Confirmation, parish pastoral councils, using YOUCAT – the youth version

of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

To consider facilitating a new group, if possible

To consider further study in theology.