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Christiane Brusselmans

By Catherine Dooley & Lisa Gulino


DR. CHRISTIANE BRUSSELMANS (1930-1991) was a Catholic religious educator, catechetical advocate for children and a pioneer in the implementation of the Rite of Christian Initiation in the United States. She authored several innovative Roman Catholic religious education programs for children and their families: We Celebrate the Eucharist; We Celebrate Reconciliation; and SUNDAY: Celebration of the Word. Born in Belgium, her influence in the field of religious education extended to many continents over a period of three decades. In Europe, she taught courses at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium and in the United States at Fordham University, Union Theological Seminary, Boston College and Harvard Divinity School as well as a number of other academic institutions. Brusselmans' vision, determination, and belief in the vocation of the laity and the importance of the family in the mission of the church still resound today.


Early Years and Education

Christiane Brusselmans was born the sixth of ten children of Augusta and Franz Brusselmans on All Saints Day, November 1, 1930 in Louvain, Belgium. The family moved to the village of Korbeek- Lo when Christiane was three and it was her home for the rest of her life. As her brothers and sisters married, several of them had homes on the same property and in this place of great natural beauty she was always surrounded by the family that she loved and who supported her in all of her endeavors. Love of family and appreciation of natural beauty were two of the early experiences that would shape her life and work. It was in the family and from her father and mother, that Christiane received the most memorable "Christian education." The generosity and welcoming spirit of her mother was the pattern of her own openness and warmth towards all that she met. Each night before bed, her father, a professor at the University of Louvain and a Member of Parliament, would bless each child on the forehead. This simple act of faith and trust by her father left a deep impression on Christiane. This ritual, and many others she recalled from her childhood, would affect the way she would catechize and design programs for use with children and parents (Roll, 1992, 3).

The parish church was another influence in her early life. The church, the center of life in Korbeek-Lo, was only a short distance from their home. The ringing of the angelus bell three times daily, about six in the morning, noon, and six in the evening reminded the villagers of the presence of God in their lives. The church bells summoned them on Sunday mornings and her family, with the other families from the village, walked to Mass. Faith was the fabric of life. In reflecting on these experiences, Christiane noted: "It was an experience of communion with one another, and also with nature, which was extremely important as far as celebrating Sunday was concerned" (Zimmerman, 9). As Margaret Power notes, "More than a half century later, the title of Christiane Brusselmans' last published work would bear the same resemblance: "SUNDAY" (Power, 33).

Christiane's childhood was interrupted by the Second World War. Germany, which in 1937 had guaranteed Belgian neutrality, attacked and occupied Belgium in May, 1940. The war years were desperate times in Belgium as in other countries. Schools were closed; citizens fled the cities that were quickly taken over by the prevailing occupying military force; food was scarce and people lived in fear. Life in Belgium was harsh under the occupation by German troops, particularly against the Jews in Belgium. The numbers vary but the 1944 U.S Government War Refugee Board Report estimated that "approximately 50,000 Jews deported from Belgium were killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau gas chambers between April 1942 and April 1944 (Weber, 1999). Any Belgian aiding a Jew was killed or imprisoned. Seeing the Jewish children forced to wear a yellow badge on their clothing was a very sobering memory for Christiane but also a realization of the meaning and the evil of discrimination. Despite the appalling number of Jews who were exterminated, the number of Jews that were rescued and saved by an effective Belgian resistance, hidden in monasteries, convents and private homes, is a testimony to the people's belief in the dignity of all people. The occupiers confiscated food, cars, machinery and anything of value. Liberation by British and American troops, aided by a Belgian underground army, came in September, 1944. The unsuccessful German counteroffensive of December 1944-January 1945 caused even more destruction, adding to damage previously incurred by invasion and by Allied air raids. Christiane in her talks sometimes spoke about the experience of daily life in an occupied homeland: the fear, the powerlessness, the lack of food, the senseless destruction of the university library and other historic buildings. Even her family home at times was taken over by both German and allied troops. She recalls that near the end of World War II, the kitchen of the family homestead served as a military center for American GI's. It was from the GI's that she learned English by singing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and other African American spirituals. She often told audiences how she raised chickens to eat, sell or to barter in order to help provide food for her own family. It was amazing to her listeners that from those years Christiane only seemed to remember the ways in which families helped one another, shared what they had, welcomed the refugees, risked their own safety to stand against oppression and tried to go on with their lives by protecting and providing for their children.

Yet, it perhaps affected her more than she realized. For the next few years, she searched for some meaning in her life. She made a journey to Lourdes, where she stayed for a year caring for the sick. Part of her search had to do with questions of God, faith and religion. Her father recognized this crisis to be deeper than simply attendance at Sunday Mass (Parker, 19). He suggested that she attend the University lectures given by a new professor, Father Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P. His lectures on the Eucharist motivated her to enroll in religious studies at the University of Louvain, where she was also influenced by many other theologians with broad perspectives (Parker, 19). After receiving the Licence en Sciences Religieuses in 1960, Christiane was encouraged to continue her studies at L' Institut Catholique de Paris where she completed the Maùtrise en Pastorale Catéchétique in 1962.

Both Louvain and Paris offered Christiane vanguard experiences and opportunities. . During her years of studies, Brusselmans took full advantage of extracurricular opportunities. She witnessed the developments of movements such as the Young Christian Workers with their watchwords of engagement, incarnation and presence in the world. She was introduced to liberation theology in informal seminars which introduced her to many prominent international figures, such as Canon Francois Houtart, professor of the sociology of religion at Louvain, an advisor at that time to the Conference of the Latin American Episcopate (CELAM), and now a member of the International Committee of the World Social Forum. He also was mentor to several forerunners in the articulation of liberation theology: Gustavo Gutierrez, who studied philosophy and psychology at Louvain and Camillo Torres, who studied theology and philosophy at Louvain.

In Paris, Christiane experienced the theological foment of movements such as la nouvelle théologie that in reaction to Scholasticism called for a return to the sources of Scripture and the writings of the Fathers of the Church in order to give direction to the current questions facing the church in the world. Many of the great figures in theology and the liturgical movement in France were her teachers: Jean Danielou for patristic studies, Dom Bernard Botte for liturgy, Yves Congar for theology of the laity and Louis Bouyer for Protestant theology. In Paris, she became friends with the missionary orders of the White Fathers and the Holy Ghost Fathers who told her about the formation process offered to those asking to become Christians in the African and Asian countries in which these missionaries ministered. This process was modeled on the catechumenal formation of the early church. Another student at the Institute, Father Michael Dujarier, was completing his doctoral dissertation on the catechumenate of the early church. Hearing both the research and the first hand accounts of missionaries, Christiane realized that the process of conversion was not simply a personal journey but needed to take place within the family and the whole community of believers.

During her years of study in Paris, Christiane worked within an innovative catechumenal process at the parish of Saint Sulpice (Parker, 1992, 19) that recognized the liturgical rites as a means of catechesis together with the catechetical instruction that involved the parents, godparents and local parish of the individual being initiated into the Church. From this formative experience, the desire to restore the catechumenate was to become one of her life works and her sacramental programs for children were based on a catechumenal model (Roll, 1992, 4).

In 1962, Christiane had hoped to return to Louvain to begin doctoral studies but at that time, like other theological schools, the Louvain Faculty of Theology did not admit lay men, women or religious sisters. Only priests and seminarians were accepted for advanced theological degrees. She then applied to the department of religion and religious education at The Catholic University of America. One of the aims of the department was to enable laity to obtain theological degrees. Father Gerard Sloyan, chair of the department of Religion and Religious Education not only accepted her for doctoral studies but invited her to offer a MA level seminar on the catechumenate in order to bring many of the insights of the European liturgical and catechetical movements to the university community.

For Christiane, music and song were important in her catechesis and prayer. It was she who introduced the music of Father Lucien Deiss to the English speaking world. The English edition of Deiss' Biblical Hymns and Psalms (1965), acknowledges that the "the present work is the result of the enthusiasm of Miss Christiane Brusselmans who organized the committee and who wrote a number of the catecheses." (Deiss, 1965, 4).

Christiane completed the doctorate in 1965. Her doctoral dissertation, Les Fonctions de Parrainage des Enfants aux Premiers Siecles de l'Eglise (100-500) under the guidance of Professor Kevin Seasoltz, OSB, reinforced her convictions about the catechumenal process and the role of parents and godparents in the child's sacramental preparation.

Into the Field

In 1969, Christiane began as a lecturer in Catechetics at the Katholieke Univesiteit Leuven located in Flanders, the Flemish speaking northern part of Belgium. She returned to a very different situation than one she had known as a student. Previously, the University conducted classes in both French and Flemish. The struggle for Flemish identity and rights had many repercussions in Belgium. One outcome was the division of the University in 1970 into the French speaking Universite Catholique de Louvain (UCL) in Louvain-la- Neuve, a newly constructed campus in the southern part of Belgium while the Dutch speaking Katholieke Unversiteit Leuven, (KUL), with an English-speaking section remained in the historic town of Leuven. Christiane taught one semester in Leuven and in alternate semesters at Fordham University's Graduate Institute of Religious Education, Boston College, North American College in Rome; Harvard Divinity School, Union Theological Seminary and Boston College among other academic institutions.

Contributions to the field

As James Parker notes: "It was not in the Louvain classroom, however, that Christiane became so widely known and loved. Her real platform was at workshops and congresses around the world." (Parker, 1992, 20). She influenced a generation of seminarians, priests, religious and laity through her workshops, presentations at diocesan religious education conventions, national and international gatherings of teachers and catechists, priests and religious in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Africa, New Zealand, China, Ireland, England, France Germany, Holland and in almost all of the fifty states in the United States.

To these workshops, she brought her experiences of the catechumenate at St. Sulpice in Paris, and her work with the Louvain American College seminarians at Our Lady of Mercy, the American parish in Brussels. It was in the parish that Christiane with the students, particularly Brian Haggerty, began to put her ideas about a catechumenal formation for children into practice. From these beginnings, the process of catechesis that centered on the liturgy and incorporated parents and the local community as an integral part of their children's formation would gradually find "their way into parishes throughout the United States and the English speaking world." (Codd, 2007, 80-81).

Indeed those ideas did find their way into parishes. Almost forty years later, We Celebrate the Eucharist (1971) and We Celebrate Reconciliation (1972), Brusselmans' sacramental program and its subsequent revision, has sold more than 2.5 million copies since the first printing making it one of the most widely used sacramental preparation series published after Vatican II. It was translated into Dutch, French, Spanish and German. (Silver Burdette Ginn, 2007). The program, written with Brian A. Haggerty, included the child's book, a family guide, catechist guide, program director's manual and a book of celebrations. The family guide and the book of celebrations were unique features and the heart of this program. For Brusselmans the involvement of family, friends, and parish members to support, teach, pray and witness to the children was indispensable as was the opportunity to celebrate together what were called para-liturgical celebrations with the proclamation of the word, reflection on the word in terms of one's life, and the ritual actions. These Celebrations of the Word were integral not only to the child's journey but the community's as well and were proximate preparation for the celebration of the sacraments. Rich with biblical, liturgical and sacramental catechesis, the community developed in its own spiritual growth. The Eucharist was no longer seen as an isolated sacrament but as part of the sacraments of initiation. Given prominent place throughout the Brusselmans's series were the Celebrations of the Word and the role of parents and local community. She did this not just by providing background material for the children but by developing home lessons entrusting parents with the task of instructing their own children in their faith. In today's milieu, these components seem ordinary but in the 1970's it was an extraordinary contribution. Brusselmans' vision was lighting the way to the renewal and restoration of the Rite of Christian Initiation especially as it applied to children. Brusselmans used the principles of the Rite of Christian Initiation as the foundation for the programs of sacramental preparation. The books also reflected Christiane's love of beauty. The first edition had a beautiful gold cover and for years was known as the "gold book." The books were not only theologically and liturgically sound, but respected the psychological and pedagogical levels of the child. Robert Browning and Roy Reed name the Brusselmans/Haggerty book: We Celebrate Reconciliation: The Lord Forgives (rev.1990) as "one of the best:"

This curriculum is a very sensitive, affirming, caring approach to the experience of forgiveness and reconciliation. It culminates in joyous participation in the Sacrament of Reconciliation … The series reveals a relational interpretation of God's love and the importance of love from and for family, peers and other human relations in the wider community. There is a strong recognition of the gifts God has given us and a call to share those gifts with others. (Browning and Reed, 179).

Brusselmans also prepared the book, Religion for Little Children: A Parent's Guide (1970) as a means of helping parents in their efforts to impart the Gospel to their family. The book obviously met a need and in 1977 another edition was published: A Parents' Guide: Religion for Little Children, including an appendix for the 76 most asked questions and their answers.

As James Parker noted, it was primarily in the congresses and conventions that Christiane became known and loved but she also made her mark in the various initiatives that she realized (Parker, 20). Knowing the essential aspects of sacramental preparation, enriched by theological studies, and an active listening to the experiences of missionaries who had developed a process of initiation for those coming to faith, Brusselmans was prepared when the church published the provisional texts of The Rites of Christian Initiation of Adults in 1972. Few took note, but Brusselmans recognized the stages of catechesis and liturgy outlined by the rites as a radical (back to the roots) way of conversion and catechesis. The restoration of this ancient process of initiating people into the Church was surely the work of the Holy Spirit and it served even more to fuel the fire of Brusselmans's passion for liturgical and sacramental catechesis and the restoration of the catechumenate.

While lecturing at Harvard University, in 1975-76 one of the women students approached Christiane to ask if she would prepare her for baptism. Christiane agreed, explained the Rite of Christian Initiation and quickly gathered a group of students and faculty to meet weekly in her apartment to reflect on the scriptures discuss aspects of Catholicism and pray together. She collaborated with the University chaplains to learn and implement the Rite. Several years later, the student was baptized, confirmed and received the Eucharist at the Easter vigil. Christiane was the woman's sponsor (Jones, 1998). For Brusselmans, the burning question was how to get parishes to replicate the Harvard experience. As Jim Parker remarks, "that challenge would daunt all but a Christiane" (Parker, 20).

In 1978, in her own inimitable way, she convinced the W.H. Sadlier Publishing Company, known for innovation, to take another step into the future. Brusselmans, again with her love for beauty convened thirty-two catechetical and liturgical experts at Senanque, a twelfth century Cistercian monastery in the Provence region of southern France, to discuss the restoration of the Rite of Christian Initiation in the parishes throughout the world.

The symposium brought together bishops, pastors, scholars and catechetical leaders from the United States, France, Canada and West Africa. The symposium offered an important opportunity for sharing the experiences of the catechumenate, reviewing the liturgies of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and reflecting on practical applications and implementations of catechumenate. The proceedings of the symposium were published by W. H. Sadlier Company under the title of Becoming A Catholic Christian (1979) which recorded the accounts of the parishes in the United States and in France that had begun to implement the catechumenate and also offered papers on the various rites of the catechumenate. The primary themes that arose at the symposium concerned the involvement of the total faith community, the continual conversion of that community and the meaning of integration into that community (Reedy, 340).

Later that summer the Sadlier Company sponsored three weeklong institutes on the catechumenate in three parts of the United States. Msgr. Thomas Ivory who was a presenter at the first week observes that "these weeks were the forerunners of the "Beginnings and Beyond" institutes now held by North American Forum on the Catechumenate (Ivory, 9).

While teaching at Harvard, Christiane attended the lectures of Lawrence Kohlberg and James Fowler and saw the links between their work and the research being done in the Center for Religious Psychology founded by Antoine Vergote in Belgium. In Brusselmans's words,

I began to think that it would be a very good thing indeed if representative scholars of both the North American approach and the European approach could be brought together to exchange and discuss the things that unite and differentiate them. To be a bridge builder-that was my dream. (Brusselmans, 1980, xi).

Sponsored by Silver Burdette Publishers, Brusselmans, the" bridge builder," convened twenty European, Canadian and United States scholars at the Abbey Senanque in France in 1979. The participants not only represented different continents but a broad ecumenical perspective. Bringing the differing schools of thought together allowed for a collaborative venture and exchange of approaches to educating for religious and moral growth. In the introduction to the proceedings, she explains why she chose the Abby as the location.

This obviously was the perfect place to realize my dream of bringing together those scholars from North America and from Europe who represented such divergent traditions of moral and religious research. And the men and women who finally gathered there reminded me of those who built and created the Abbey of Senanque. Like the architects and masons of the Middle Ages, they succeeded in finding unity in the diversity of tasks and talents they represented.

The presenters were a veritable "Who's Who" in the field of Moral Theology and moral and religious development. Scholars from the North American Universities who presented papers were Lawrence Kohlberg, F.Clark Power, William Rodgers, Carol Gilligan Robert Kegan (Harvard University); James Fowler (Emory University); James Loder (Princeton); James O'Donohoe , Thomas Lickona (Boston College); Ana Maria Rizzuto (Tufts), Stanley Hauerwas (Notre Dame), and Edmund Sullivan (University of Toronto). These scholars shared their on-going research in moral and religious development and discussed the practical educational implications of their research. The works of the North Americans explored the cognitive theories on moral and religious development. The European scholars, Antoine Vergote,( KU Leuven and UCL) Herman Lombaerts, Dirk Hutsebaut, Jef Bulckens (KU Leuven); Jean-Marie Jaspard (UCL); Fritz Oser (Fribourg), Enda McDonagh (Maynooth University),) explored the relational and affective dimensions of moral and religious development resulting in psychoanalytical theories. The papers from the symposium were published by Silver Burdett Company, entitled, Toward Moral and Religious Maturity (1980). A search of the Web indicates that articles in this work still continue to be widely used in graduate seminars in moral and religious education in many universities and colleges.

Estes Park, Colorado

In October of 1981, Christiane again organized a gathering held at Estes Park, Colorado, (another place of great natural beauty). This time she brought together more than 200 participants interested in the restoration of the Catechumenate. It was at this meeting that the North American Forum on the Catechumenate came into existence (Forum 1992, 1). James Dunning described it in this way: Christiane "handed over her ministry with adult initiation to the North Americans and told yours truly to mobilize our energies – Jim I give this to you. Do it" (Forum 2005, 8). And he did. These forums continue to instruct hundreds of priests, religious and laity on the implementation of the Rite of Christian Initiation, which Christiane called "the best kept secret of Vatican II!" In the early years, Brusselmans would speak at the gatherings of the Forum. True to her style, Christiane would envision, discuss and formulate an idea, inspire others, then encourage them to take the idea and implement it.

Out of her conviction of the importance of initiation in the context of local church, one of Father Dunning's initiatives before his death in 1995 was to forge a relationship between the catechumenate and the North American Forum for Small Christian Communities (NAFSCC). He said, "I see little long term hope for the catechumenate unless there is connection between small Christian communizes and the catechumenate, before, during and after initiation" (Catechumenate, 29). The groups of Small Christian Communities would also be catechumenal communities and would enable the catechumens to be part of community striving to become the body of Christ in mission for the sake of the world.

In 1985 Brusselmans convened an international symposium in Bruges on "The Future of the Local Church." Her intuition was that the restoration of the catechumenate in which people in small communities came together for reflection on the scripture, were formed by the Word and "could be church in the most basic sense of the word: gathering for celebration and service." (Parker, 1). These gatherings could recognize the needs of their area and commit themselves to service to the neighborhoods in which they lived. In the 1980's the Catholic Church in the United States was beginning to experience the phenomenon of "priestless parishes" that was already common in Europe and other parts of the world. The small communities in the other parts of the world were addressing the problem of the shortage of priests and developing not only a new model of being church but a new way of pasturing for the ordained. It was Christiane's aim to enable the U.S. delegates, bishops, priests and laity, to learn from those who within their own culture had faced this reality. The participants were from five different continents. In the commentary on the conference, James Parker (Parker, 2) identified four different models that reflected the local church in particular areas: liberation model, post Christian, catechumenal and diaspora. Instead of the title, "priestess parishes" or "Sunday celebrations in the absence of a priest," the presenters spoke of "The Sunday Assembly animated by the laity" (Parker, Griffin, 1985). Like a prophet who reads the signs of the times, Brusselmans addressed the question of priestless parishes, the involvement of laity and a vision of the church in the twenty-first century. "Of all her projects, this symposium, held in Bruges in 1985, is the only one yet to bear fruit." (Parker, 20).

In the last years of her life, Dr. Brusselmans returned to her first love: children and the sacraments of initiation. Convinced of the formative power of the Word of God, she wanted the children to take part in the Liturgy of the Word at the Eucharistic celebration in a meaningful way. Working with Sister Paule Freeburg, D.C. and Christopher Walker, Christiane began to implement the principles and vision in the Vatican document, Directory for Masses with Children. In the materials that she named SUNDAY, she placed the focus particularly on the importance of the Liturgy of the Word in the child's religious formation. These materials for leaders and reflection activities for the children enable them to enter into the biblical images and metaphors as well as the liturgical signs and gestures. It is an open-ended process respectful of the children's innate relationship with God and enables the children to reflect on the scriptures in light of the experience of God in their lives and in the world in which they live. Within the context of liturgy, the children are able to hear God's Word in language they understand.

In these years, Brusselmans also set about implementing the Rite of Christian Initiation adapted to children of catechetical age. Together with James Moudry, they founded an Institute for the Christian Initiation of Children in 1989, which was modeled on the institutes for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults sponsored by the North American Forum. Moudry and Brusselmans worked together until illness incapacitated her in 1990 (Gibeau, 1993).

Christiane had an extraordinary gift of bringing people together. "To be a bridge-builder – that was my dream" she said. "Her concrete accomplishments stand on their own; but her real legacy lies in the thousands of people whose faith-lives were touched in some way by her personality. … she had the power to inspire, mobilize, energize and sometimes exasperate her co-workers, "(Roll-Ivory, 1992, 9) but always in the service of the gospel. She was a bridge-builder bringing people together. She saw a need, energized others to meet the need, handed it on and went on to the next project. For her, relationship was the heart of ministry.

Most people who met her only saw the joy, the dedication, the faithfulness, graciousness, hospitality, and the genuine interest in others. Seldom would they suspect the struggle that came from a bipolar illness that marked her entire life until she finally succumbed to the depression and ended her life. Many people who heard her speak loved her stories. She was a wonderful story teller. The stories were humorous, poignant, and meaningful. James Moudry (1991, 11) remarks that "every story had a message to help her audiences understand the mysterious workings of God in the lives of children and parents." She too recognized the active presence of God in her life and she held firmly to the conviction that God was loving and merciful. It was in possession of this truth that she lived and died.

Contributions to Christian Education

Over 2.5 million children and their families have been prepared for the sacraments through her publications. There is perhaps no book for sacramental preparation written 35 years ago that was so solidly grounded in the church's catechetical and liturgical tradition that after only minor revisions it continues to be a valuable resource today.

Her efforts for the restoration of the Rite of Christian Initiation have contributed to the establishment of the catechumenate in the majority of parishes in the United States and in many other countries. In many parishes RCIA teams are part of the fabric of the parish life as they imitate Brusselmans's fervent desire for initiation into a faith community. James Schellman speaks for many in his 2005 reflection on the death of both Christiane Brusselmans and James Dunning:

Each year we observe their passing from us, and with each year that passes we realize more and more how much we owe them. Their vision of what the implementation of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults offered for the renewal of the church and the transformation of the world is the ground on which all of us within Forum have found our footing ever since. These passionate and prophetic figures formed so many in that vision and fired our resolution to see it though. (Schellman, 7).

The children's liturgy of the Word has been implemented in the majority of parishes throughout the United States, and the Sunday publication she founded continues to be a source for reflection on the Word of God. Her vision of family catechesis with involvement of the whole parish in biblical, liturgical, and sacramental catechesis is echoed in the "new" intergenerational and whole community model of parish catechesis.

In a book of essays titled, The Candles Are Still Burning, written as a tribute to Brusselmans, the editors stated,

"Christiane Brusselmans influenced the lives of numerous people on a world-wide level with a vision of the sacraments which touched the deepest roots of their human experience. It was a uniting and integration vision, which integrated reflection on lived experience with the liturgical celebratory dimension and both of these within the hope of a renewed and revivified Church which listened and responded to the breath of the Spirit. (Gray, vii).

The authors of this text use the candle at the Easter Vigil as an appropriate image to describe Brusselmans' influence in the field of catechetical ministry. The one candle that received its flame from the Paschal Candle is passed from person to person until the church is ablaze with light. Brusselmans' own flame spread to others between and throughout many countries and continues today. Brusselmans's vision, passion, unwavering and untiring commitment to the restoration of the catechumenate, to the liturgy of the word and to sacramental catechesis has ignited and spread throughout the parishes of this land and has shaped the process not only in Europe but in Africa and Asia. . Many of her students are now professors, pastors, catechetical leaders and authors working in many different levels of church ministry and academia. They fan the flames; shape the present, empower future leaders, and read the "signs of the times." They keep the candles burning.

Works Cited

  • Browning, Robert L. & Reed, Roy A. (2004). Forgiveness, reconciliation and moral courage. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans.
  • Brusselmans, Christiane. (1980). Foreward. In Toward Moral and Religious Maturity. Morristown, N.J.: Silver Burdett Company.
  • Carson, Patricia. (1974). The fair face of Flanders. (Rev. ed.) Ghent: E Story-Scientia.
  • Gibeau, Dawn (1993, December 10). Baptism reformed as end of rich process – Institute for Christian Initiation of Children. National Catholic Reporter, 10.
  • Heaton, Andree, Gray, Mary C., & Sullivan, Danny. (Eds.). (1995). The candles are still burning: Essays in honor of Christiane Brusselmans. London: Geoffrey Chapman.
  • Jones, Arthur. (1998, March 13). Winding paths lead to fresh view of church. National Catholic Reporter, 15.
  • Moriarty, Robert. (1995, March). Diary. Catechumenate: A Journal of Christian Initiation, 29-33.
  • Parker, James & Griffin, Bert. (1985). The future of the Eucharistic church: Report on the Bruges, Belgium symposium [VCR]. Portland, Oregon: Archdiocese of Portland Media Center.
  • Power, Margaret Myrtle. (2006). A lamp to our feet and a light to our path: Christiane Brusselmans and narrative in Religious Education. Ph.D. Dissertation, New York: Fordham University Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education.
  • Schellman, James. (2005). Fondly remembering Jim and Christiane. Forum: The North American Forum on the Catechumenate 22 (2). Silver Burdette Ginn Publishing Company. Web site:
  • Weber, Mark. (March/April 1999). Belgium and its Jews during the war. The Journal for Historical Review 18 (2), 2.



  • Brusselmans, C. (1970). Religion for little children. A parent's guide. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Press.

Books: Co-author

  • Brusselmans, C. & Wakin, E. (1977). A parents' guide: Religion for little children, including an appendix for the 76 most asked questions and their answers. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor.

Books edited

  • (1980). Toward moral and religious maturity. Morristown, NJ: Silver Burdett Company.
  • (1967). A la Messe avec nous. Paris, France: Mame.
  • (1967). Reçois la foi de Dieu. Paris, France: Mame.
  • (1967). I go to Mass with God's family. New York: McMillan; London: Burns and Oates.
  • (1971, 1990). Brusselmans, C.& Haggerty. B. 1st and 4th editions.; We celebrate the Eucharist. Morristown, NJ: Silver Burdett Company. The components are: Child's book, Family Guide, Catechist Guide, Program Director's manual, Book of celebrations, Guidelines for parents and teachers, We Celebrate Reconciliation, The Good Shepherd (ages -7-9), The Lord Forgives (ages 9-12), Child's book, Catechist Guide, Family Guide, Program Director's Manual, Celebrations book
  • (1972). I receive God's peace. New Jersey: Dimension Books.
  • (1981). Jesus loves children. New York: W.H. Sadlier
  • (1989). SUNDAY: A children's lectionary. Loveland, OH: Treeehaus Communications, Inc.
  • (1989). SUNDAY: Leaders Weekly Guide. Loveland, OH: Treehaus Communications, Inc.


  • (1964). The relationship between teaching and celebration. In The Challenge of the Council: Person, Parish, World, 210-216. Washington, DC: The Liturgical Conference.
  • (1968). Christian Parents and Infant Baptism. (Trans. Francis Christian). Louvain Studies 2, 29-48.
  • (1970). A catechesis adapted to the present age and the liturgical initiation of children. In Alois Muller (Ed.), Catechetics for the Future, 69-76. New York: Herder and Herder.
  • (1975). Children and the sacrament of reconciliation. Worship, 49, 149-157.
  • (1977). Preface. In William J. Reedy (Ed.), Becoming a Catholic Christian: A symposium on Christian initiation, 5-6. New York: William H. Sadlier Co.
  • (1978). Christian initiation: The initiation of children into the Eucharist. Centro pro unione Bulletin 13, 20-24.
  • (1979). Introduction. In Michel Dujarier, A history of the catechumenate: the first six centuries, 5-7. New York: W.H. Sadlier.
  • (1994). The Christian initiation of children. In Victoria M. Tufano (Ed.), Readings in the Christian Initiation of Children, 35-43. Chicago, IL: Liturgy Training Publications.

Articles/ Reviews about Christiane Brusselman

  • (August, 1977). Key faith communities: Family, parish, school. National Catholic Reporter, 11-14.
  • Browning, R. L. & Reed, R. (2004). Forgiveness, reconciliation and moral courage. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
  • Codd, K. (2007). The American College of Louvain. The Catholic Historical Review 93, 80-81.
  • Dooley, C. (1992). Christiane Brusselmans (1930-1991) An appreciation. The Living Light, 28, 256-258.
  • Gray, M. C., Heaton, A. & Sullivan, D., (Eds.). (1995). The candles are still burning: Directions in sacrament and spirituality: Essays in honor of Christiane Brusselmans. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.
  • Gibeau, D. (1993). Baptism reformed as end of rich process – Institute for Christian Initiation of Children. National Catholic Reporter, December 10.
  • Ivory, T.P. & Roll, S. K. (1992). It is a joy for me to do it: An appreciation of Christiane Brusselmans. Louvain Studies, 17, 3-9.
  • Ivory, T. (2003). 25 years ago: Remembering the Senanque Symposium. Forum: The North American Forum on the catechumenate 20 (2).
  • Kramer, T. E. (1979). [Review of the book Becoming a Catholic Christian: A symposium on Christian initiation]. Worship 53, 78-80.
  • Laverdiere, E. (1990). [Review of SUNDAY book of readings adapted for children, Year A]. Catechumenate: A Journal of Christian Initiation, 12 (4): 39-41.
  • Moudry, J. (December, 1991). Regarding Christiane Brusselmans. Catholic Bulletin, Archdiocese of St. Paul Minnesota, 11.
  • O'Leary, B. (1992). A most unforgettable person. Forum: The North American Forum on the Catechumenate. 9 (2): 1, 5.
  • Parker, J. (1992). The mother of Christian initiation; In memoriam: Christiane Brusselmans. Commonweal, 119, 19-21.
  • Rolheiser, Ronald. (December, 1991). RCIA program: A child of Brusselmans. Prairie messenger, 4-6. Muenster, Saskatchewan: Published by the Benedictine Monks of St. Peter's Abbey.
  • Schellman, James. (2005). Fondly remembering Jim and Christiane. Forum: The North American Forum on the Catechumenate 22 (2).
  • Wilde, James. (November 1989). [Review of SUNDAY]. Catechumenate: A Journal of Christian Initiation, 11 (6), 38-39.

Theses/ Dissertations on Brusselmans

  • Zimmerman, Marian A. (1987). Christiane Brusselmans: Bridge builder and visionary of the contemporary liturgical movement. M.A. Thesis. St. John's University, Collegeville, MN.
  • Paulli, Kenneth Paul. (1999). "And they also teach": A gardnerian analysis of roman liturgical ritual. Ph.D dissertation. Columbia University.
  • Power, Margaret M. (2006). A lamp to our feet and a light to our faith: Christiane Brusselmans and narrative in Religious Education. Ph.D. Dissertation. Fordham University, New York.

Excerpts from Publications

(1970, 76). A catechesis adapted to the present age and liturgical initiation of children. In Alois Muller (Ed.), Catechesis for the future. Herder and Herder.

The massive abandonment of faith forces pastors and catechists to emerge from the too restricted setting of certain traditional institutions. It obliges them to rediscover the value of the Christian family as a fundamental institution of the church. The whole effort of pastoral Catechetics in the future must be turned towards the family

(1964, 210). The relationship between teaching and celebration. In The challenge of the council: Person, parish, world, 210-216. Washington, D.C.: The Liturgical Conference.

The catechetical renewal has been marked by different phases. First, there was a renewal of method, then of doctrinal content. Next the Bible was restored to its place of honor in our programs of catechesis. If however, we wish to make true Christians of our children, it does not suffice to teach them their religion. We must make them parishioners, that, we must prepare them to enter into the liturgy of the Church. We must give them a liturgical initiation; in this area, there is still much progress to be made.

(1979, 10). Preface. In William J. Reedy (Ed.), Becoming A Catholic Christian: A symposium on Christian initiation, 5-6. New York: William H. Sadlier.

The church is and has to become more and more missionary. Two things have convinced me of this: first, reflection on the lives of the people, young and old that I meet, and second, my own experience of Christian community with groups that are surfacing throughout the world today. It is partly because the Church has too often forgotten its missionary character that a profound de-Christianization is abroad today.

  • (1968). Christian parents and infant baptism. (Trans. Francis Christian). . Louvain Studies 2, 29-48.
  • (1970). A catechesis adapted to the present age and the liturgical initiation of children. In Alois Muller (Ed.), Catechetics for the future, 69-76. . New York: Herder and Herder.
  • (1994). The Christian initiation of children. In Victoria M. Tufano (Ed.), Readings in the Christian initiation of children, 35-43. Chicago, IL: Liturgy Training Publications.

Author Information

Catherine Dooley

Catherine Dooley, O.P. received her Ph.D. from the Katholieke Unversiteit Leuven, Belgium (KUL) in sacramental theology and is a professor of Catechetics and Liturgy at The Catholic University of America. She was a student of Christiane Brusselmans at Harvard Divinity School and valued her friendship of twenty five years.

Lisa Gulino

Lisa Gulino is a graduate student in the Doctorate of Ministry program at The Catholic University of America and previously served as Diocesan Director of Adult education and Evangelization in the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts.