Core Course

Introduction to the Catholic Faith

Course Description

In the documents of Vatican II, the baptized are called to holiness and to greater understanding of their unique role in building the Kingdom of God. An informational and enriching introduction to the Catholic faith and theology, this course will enable you to take greater responsibility in promoting the life and mission of the Church. Using the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults as a primary text, this course will explore six core areas and will serve as a good foundation for those who seek to continue theological studies or develop theological competency for ministry. Theology is a fascinating and vital subject that challenges those who study it to think critically and personally about human existence, the world we live in and our relationship with God and one another. It is recommended (but not required) as a first course for those new to theological study.

Course Content

Unit 1: Faith Development

  1. Faith as a Personal and Communal Response to God's Self-Revelation
  2. Stages of Faith Development
  3. Faith as "Content" as Well as a Dynamic Spiritual Reality

Unit 2: Scripture

  1. Revelation Transmitted through Scripture and Tradition
  2. Development of the Bible
  3. Overview of the Old Testament
  4. Overview of the New Testament
  5. Interpretation of the Scriptures

Unit 3: The Creed/ Jesus Christ

  1. Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds
  2. Trinity
  3. Person of Jesus Christ
  4. Christology

Unit 4: The Church

  1. Models of the Church
  2. Marks of the Church
  3. Mary and Saints

Unit 5: Sacraments, Liturgy and Prayer

  1. Liturgy as Act of the Church
  2. Seven Sacraments
  3. Importance of Prayer

Unit 6: Morality

  1. Elements of Christian Morality
  2. Sources of Catholic Morality
  3. Basics of Catholic Social Teaching

Course Format

  • Developed by Mary Jane Silvia, Director for Youth Ministry, and Mary Ellen Mahon, Director for Catechetical Formation, Diocese of Manchester.
  • Seven weeks in duration, with one week for orientation.
  • Typically 15-20 students in each course.
  • In addition to assigned readings from United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, additional lecture material provided online.
  • Supplemental readings are provided to encourage further exploration of topic, internet links provided for all readings.
  • Weekly written assignments (150-200 words) required.
  • Weekly facilitator-moderated chat sessions with students in course.

Required Texts

  • United States Catholic Catechism for Adults (USCCA) book cover

    Participants in this course must have their own copy of the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006 -- please note that it has a red cover, as shown at right. This book is available to read online, or it can be purchased in paper or electronic form.

Participation Requirements

  • Weekly reading of lecture texts and assigned readings.
  • Participation in class discussion using discussion area (minimum 2 comments, questions or responses weekly.)
  • Weekly written assignment (150-200 words.)
  • Weekly chat session with other students in course (4 required throughout course.)
  • Course evaluation.

Time Expectations

4 to 6 hours a week (time varies from student to student depending on your learning style and schedule.)

Course Certificate

A Certificate of Completion awarding 35 Contact Hours will be sent upon completion of all course requirements.

Meet the Developer

Mary Ellen Mahon

Mary Ellen Mahon

Mary Ellen Mahon holds a BA in theology from Trinity College, Washington, DC and a MA in Religious Studies from LaSalle University, Philadelphia, PA. She has been involved in catechetical ministry as a Parish Catechetical Leader and as a religion teacher in Catholic junior high and high schools. She has been a Master Catechist in diocesan catechist certification programs, developed lay ministry formation courses, a high school curriculum integrating Catholic Social Teaching and service and a child safety curriculum. She has facilitated retreats and days of prayer with adolescents and adults. Since 2004 Mary Ellen has been serving as Diocesan Director for Catechetical Formation for the Diocese of Manchester, NH.

Mary Jane Silvia

Mary Jane Silvia

Mary Jane Silvia holds a BA in Religious Studies and English from St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN, and a MA in Pastoral Ministry from LaSalle University, Philadelphia, PA. She has been involved in catechetical ministry as a theology teacher in junior high and high school and served as a high school campus minister for 15 years. Mary Jane has also coordinated youth and young adult ministry for parishes. Her ministry has also included developing and implementing retreat experiences for youth and adults. From 2004 – 2008 Mary Jane served as Diocesan Director for Youth Ministry in the Diocese of Manchester and since then has been serving as Director of Campus Ministry at Rivier University, Nashua, NH.