• Greek: katechizo, to teach by word of mouth


In the New Testament the term “catechesis” denotes oral religious instruction (Acts 18; Galatians 6). Among the early patristic writers it denotes both the act of instructing and the subject-matter of the instruction. With the organization of the catechumenate it took on a more precise and restricted meaning: the oral instruction preparatory to Baptism. With the decline of the catechumenate the term came to designate the religious instruction of children.

Since Luther’s time the term “catechism” has been used to designate a compendium of Christian doctrine for children, arranged in the form of questions and answers. Luther, however, did not originate the catechism either as to form or content. The first manual resembling our modern catechism was used by Alcuin (735-804); it is a Latin explanation, in questions and answers, of the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer.

MLA Citation

  • “catechesis”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 24 September 2013. Web. 3 August 2020. <>