There are a lot of resources out there for Catholic adults to use to learn their faith. But there are some problems that keep most Catholic adults from learning their faith on a regular basis.
1. Most Catholic adult education available today doesn't teach the way adults learn.
2. Most Catholic adult education is very theoretical and doesn't teach you how to apply what you are learning so you can grow in your faith life
3. There is no cohesive program that can lead you through spiritual growth step by step, tailored to your needs and to the way you learn.
From the Abbey exists to tackle these problems. Its mission is to create a personalized learning system that teaches you how to apply Catholic teachings to your life in very practical ways so you can grow in your faith. Using technology that is usually used for tailored marketing, From the Abbey can tailor your instructional path according to your interests and needs and the way you learn. The more you interact with From the Abbey by clicking on email links, filling out survey questions, and participating in membership activities, the more From the Abbey will conform your learning experience to you.
I started From the Abbey to be the adult education service that I wish I had. When I was interviewing for my first job, I had applied to teach English, history and/or psychology at a Catholic high school. During the interview, the principal asked me if I would be willing to teach a morality class to juniors. I told him that I wasn't really qualified. He said that my experience teaching high school catechesis stood out to him (not much experience or training, in my opinion). When I said that I would be willing to give it a try, the principal hired me on the spot. Apparently they couldn't find anyone else who was even willing to give it a try. That first year of teaching morality was truly a trial by fire. I was learning literally one hour ahead of my students. And my students could tell that I didn't really know what I was talking about. I nearly had a rebellion on my hands by the end of the year. I decided that if I was going to continue teaching this class, I needed to become much more knowledgeable. So I signed up for a master's degree program with the Institute for Religious and Pastoral Studies out of the University of Dallas (now the Institute for Pastoral Theology out of Ave Maria University).
During my entrance interview for this degree program, the interviewer asked me, "So tell me a little bit about what impact the documents of Vatican II have had in your life." After a pregnant pause, I responded, "To tell you the truth, I didn't even know there were documents to read from Vatican II!" I thought the interview would end then and there. Much to my surprise, the person interviewing me said, "Don't worry about it. We get that answer all the time!"
Two things struck me during my master's degree studies:
1. Learning the faith and applying to our lives is really exciting! I wasn't at all looking forward to going back to school a year after graduating from my bachelor degree program. But this course was different. It was about learning the faith (intensely) for the sake of growing in intimacy with God. And this was truly an adventure that increased my hunger to learn while it fed me what I needed.
2. A lot of what I learned - especially in the first year of the program - was stuff that every Catholic adult should be learning! I remember even getting angry at one point, thinking, "Why did I have to come to a master's degree program to learn this? Why isn't this being taught in every parish?"
Those two thoughts slowly gave life to the idea of From the Abbey. I realized that part of my adventure in faith was a call to share the JOY of learning our faith and applying it to our lives with other adults - adults like you!
First I took what I learned back to the high school. I was determined not only to know my stuff, but to motivate high school juniors to learn the Church's moral teachings. By the time I left high school teaching to become a stay-home dad after 10 years of teaching, other teachers were telling me that they were hearing students in the hallway say that morality was their favorite class!
After becoming a stay-home dad for our two adopted children, God laid it on my heart to do the same thing for Catholic adults. So I started to research adult education to figure out how adults learn. I am applying that research to the Catholic adult education programs I am offering through From the Abbey.
You'll quickly discover as you explore these programs that From the Abbey offers something unique
1. While other Catholic bookstores try to be the biggest source of gift items and bargain books, From the Abbey's Bookstore (www.fromtheabbey.net) focuses on helping customers learn. The Bookstore offers you guidance to find how you learn best so you can get the resources that serve you the best.
2. There are a lot of learning resources out there, but most of them are focused on teaching concepts. From the Abbey's Catholic adult learning programs (www.fromtheabbey.com) focus on applying these concepts to your life to help you grow in your faith.
3. From the Abbey is the only resource out there (so far) to help parishes design their Catholic adult education programs based on Catholic adult education research (www.newcatholicevangelization.com).
I want to invite you to discover for yourself what From the Abbey can do for you. I encourage you to get involved in a FREE email tutorial called "The Keys to Spiritual Growth." This tutorial will introduce you to the foundational concepts and practices that make up the core of From the Abbey's teachings. If you like what you see, this tutorial will open the door to other free tutorials on each of the Keys. Eventually, there will be a course available to purchase on each of the Keys that will go really deep in helping you apply the Key to your life to unlock your spiritual growth. So sign up for this introductory tutorial and see what From the Abbey can do for you. I'll see you on the inside!