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David Riley

By Dan Thomas



David Riley (b. 1949) Graduate of the University of Notre Dame, BA in Arts and Letters, MA in Religious Education. Consultant and Regional Director for the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, Archdiocese of Cincinnati. David was among the first Roman Catholic religious educators to study the documents of the Second Vatican Council from the perspective of adult religious education (today called adult faith formation). He, with several other diocesan and parish leaders, used this insight to develop programs, both parochial and diocesan, to further the formation of the adult church in order that they could carry out the role of the laity as put forth in the documents of Vatican II.


Today Beckley is a thriving small town in Raleigh County and parts of Fayette County, West Virginia known as the “Gateway to Southern West Virginia. It was named in honor of John James Beckley, who was the first Clerk of the House of Representatives and the first Librarian of Congress. His son, Alfred Beckley, (US Army general and Confederate militia commander, born in Washington, D.C.) founded Beckley. It is the home of Beckley Exhibition Coal and the Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia. This museum reminds one of the key role coal mining played in its history and the effect that it had on the Riley family.

Homer Riley was born in West Virginia, Baptist country with few Catholics.  Iris, David’s mother, was a high school graduate who became Catholic at sixteen years of age due to the influence of her sister who had married a Catholic man.

David Riley was born in Beckley on May 2, 1949 and his family lived in the nearby town of Man.  Man was also part of the West Virginia coalfields with its history of union-management battles, mining disasters, and extremely difficult and sometimes dangerous working conditions. It was not a place to get safe and secure employment. Homer owned a grocery store with his father-in-law there, but it failed due to the generosity of too much credit by its owners. Because of this impact the Riley family moved to Columbus, Ohio in 1954, in search of work.  Homer found a job with the grocery chain called Big Bear stores. The Riley’s eventually had four children: David (the oldest), Deborah, John Patrick, and Mary Beth. Homer converted to Catholicism in his forties.  His son, Dave, then in his twenties, served as his sponsor.

David was baptized as an infant in Man, and attended grade school at St. James the Less Parish in Columbus Ohio.  He, like many young men of his era, wanted to be a priest and attended the diocesan minor seminary as a commuter for a few months until his family moved to St. Clairsville, Ohio near Wheeling, West Virginia.  David did not return to the seminary.  After two years the family returned to Columbus and he attended high school at Francis De Sales high school, graduating in 1967.  While in high school, David served as president of the Catholic Students Mission Crusade, which allowed him to attend a convention at the University of Notre Dame. He was so impressed with the university that he decided to apply when it came time and he was accepted.  From an early age David developed an interest in religion probably due to the influence of his mother, as he did not come from the typical Irish Catholic family.

David attended the University of Notre Dame from 1967-71, a time of much turmoil in the country over the Vietnam War and the cultural revolution of the 1960s.  Moreover, the Second Vatican Council had just ended and the years following saw great changes in the Catholic Church.  These were years, which Dave describes as follows:

My college years were searching years during which time I was not an active member of the Church. But even then I was looking for a faith that was rooted in experience and one that made sense in my life, a way to believe, a way to reconcile the teachings of the faith with human experience. (Fisher, 1984, p. 120)

The peace movement impacted the university and its students powerfully. In May 1970 the Kent State University shooting shut down the campus of Notre Dame so that final exams were cancelled that year. This event had a profound effect on David in that it made education and even career choices seem small and insignificant in the face of such violence against his own generation by our own military.

David began college with the intention of becoming a doctor and his degree was in pre-professional studies; he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree with the necessary courses in science to qualify for medical school. At this point in his life he was not ready to make the single-minded commitment of the next four years of his life to study. So he elected not to go on into medicine.  Instead he graduated and found a job teaching in a small Catholic school in South Bend Indiana and married Mary Beth whom he had met and fallen in love with during his junior year.  They eventually had three children, Peter, Emily, and Matthew.

It was during this time of searching, and being asked to teach religion to children, he found his way back into the active practice of the faith. One of the significant experiences of this time, Dave describes in this way:

I was persuaded by a friend to make a Cursillo weekend. I went, curious but skeptical. During the weekend I experienced a kind of love and concern that I had not thought possible in the Church. (Fisher, 1984, p. 120)

This conversion experience led him to pursue a Masters in Religious Education at Notre Dame. One of the significant influences on him was a professor named Morton Kelsey, a Jungian analyst, psychologist, and an Episcopal priest. Thus began Dave’s life-long interest in Jung and Jungian psychology, which gave him a new perspective from which to understand human nature and religion.

Another significant influence on him was that of James Michael Lee, the head of the graduate program at Notre Dame, who took a new and unusual approach to religious education. Calling it the Social Science Approach to religious education, he believed that the teaching and learning of religion was best understood not from a theological perspective, but through the discipline and principles of education. Thus, the program at Notre Dame was regarded as somewhat controversial for its time.  In Lee’s massive and masterful trilogy, The Shape of Religious Instruction, The Flow of Religious Instruction, and The Content of Religious Instruction, Lee spelled this out in great detail his theory and bolstered it with voluminous research studies.  David’s practical approach to religious education began here.

Other Notre Dame influences were Harold Burgess, who was a doctoral student in the Notre Dame program at the time along with Robert O’Gorman, also a Ph.D. student who went on to write the influential book, The Church That Was a School.  While at Notre Dame David had the good fortune to meet and get to know Sr. Jose Hobday, who came to the university to speak at a conference on prayer and spirituality.

Other writers who influenced his thinking were Thomas Merton, and Jung’s own works, which he found more useful in many ways than most of the theology that was being written at the time.  Jung offered a framework or worldview that offered an anthropological basis for religion as a naturally occurring phenomenon within the psyche.

Adult Religious Education

After teaching religion at a Catholic high school in Lima, Ohio for a year, Dave realized his calling was to parish work. He accepted a position as Adult Religious Education Coordinator at Holy Trinity Parish in Norfolk, Virginia.  One of the issues raised by this work was how the Church and its pastors dealt with this new group of laity working in the Church. This was a new development in the Church’s life and raised such challenges as just wages and fair treatment of these “ministers.”

Additionally, the leadership of diocesan office staff members, Ed Murray, John Roberto,  Jim DeBoy, Chris Villapondo, and Ed Gordon promoted the core insight that Adult Religious Education had to become central to the future of the Catholic Church if the vision of the Second Vatican Council was ever to be fully realized. Many of the Church’s catechetical documents advocated the positioning of adult religious education at the center of the church’s catechetical ministry, but it remained (and in many ways still remains) more in theory than in practice.

It was during this time that some understanding of the significance of adult education in general and of adult religious education began to develop. This process was as follows:

In 1970, The Modern Practice of Adult Education by Malcolm Knowles is published. It introduced the concept of “andragogy,” the education of adults as contrasted with “pedagogy,” the education of children.

In 1971, General Catechetical Directory (GCD) was published in response to the directives of the Second Vatican Council. It established adult catechesis as the “chief form of catechesis” (#20).

In 1972, the Latin version of Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults published, followed in 1974 by the English translation. The Rite had a profound impact on the formation process of all adults, not just catechumens.

In 1974, the Third General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops addressed the topic of evangelization. In the following year, the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi was published. In 1977, the Fourth General Assembly of the Synod of Bishop addressed the topic of catechesis. The following year, Catechesi Tradendae was published; it reiterated and expanded on the centrality of adult catechesis.

In 1979, Sharing the Light of Faith: National Catechetical Directory for Catholics of the United States was published. It was developed through a groundbreaking national consultation process, which utilized adult learning principles.

1979—The National Advisory Committee on Adult Religious Education (NACARE) was established within the Department of Education at the United States Catholic Conference. The committee produced a number of adult religious education resources and hosted a national symposium on adult faith formation in 1983. It later played a major role in the development of both Serving Life and Faith and Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us.  David would later serve as a consultant to NACARE.

Another important influence on David was the work of Joseph and Mercedes Iannone on family religious education. As a result of a workshop in the Arlington diocese on family religious education, David created family learning teams. These were parent-led neighborhood groups formed to do religious education in homes.

Work in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati

In 1978 David moved to St. Mary Church in Oxford Ohio to be closer to he and his wife’s families and remained there until 1982 when he took a position with the Office of Religious Education in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati where he would remain for thirty years.

Mary Perkins Ryan was another pioneer in liturgical and catechetical circles, whose work had an influence on Dave’s thought and practice. She began as a leader in the liturgical field with such works as At Your Ease in the Catholic Church (1937), Your Catholic Language (1940), and Learning How to Pray (1948). She is one of the early thinkers, who saw the importance of moving from a school model of religious education to include the entire parish community Her challenging 1964 book, Are Parochial Schools the Answer?: Catholic Education in the Light of the Council shocked the Catholic community and raised new issues for the Church and religious educators to wrestle with. This is a question that Dave has raised in many of the contexts in which he has worked.

One of the crucial issues is how religious education can be done effectively when the amount of time spent in parish religious education programs is an hour a week for 32-36 weeks a year. A second element is the profession of religious education, which in its early days was staffed by people with limited preparation in education and theology. One who raised these concerns in a 1983 study entitled National Profile of Professional Religious Education Coordinators/Directors was Thomas Walters. As a result of two workshops at which Tom Walters presented his work and Matt Hayes facilitated a process, through David’s and others’ leadership, the diocesan office and the two DRE organizations in the archdiocese created several committees to focus on renewing parish religious education in the archdiocese.

In his later years as a member of the staff of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis the archdiocese of Cincinnati launched an initiative known as Christ at the Center.  CATC, as it was called, was developed in response to the New Evangelization movement in the Catholic Church and current research that describes the dramatic decline in participation of youth and adults in Church life, as reported by National Study on Youth and Religion (2005), the CARA study on Mass attendance (2008), as well as its own recent Archdiocesan assessments.

Approved and supported by Archbishop of Cincinnati, the staffs of the departments and offices of the Archdiocese became engaged in an organic, Spirit-led, viral, collaborative, interdisciplinary, open-ended, and evolving strategy that places Christ at the center of all archdiocesan efforts on the behalf of families, parishes and schools. Compelled by the words of Pope Benedict XVI on the New Evangelization,No more business as usual…,” Christ at the Center offers new ways of thinking and engaging people, parishes and schools in embracing Catholicism as a comprehensive way of life.

In addition to serving on the Steering Committee of CATC, David served as chairperson of one of its subcommittees, The Domestic Church Committee.  This committee worked on identifying resources for families to use in nurturing their faith.


In 1979, NACARE was established within the USCC Department of Education. It served to gather information on the needs, opportunities, trends, challenges, theories and practices of adult faith formation within the Catholic Church of the United States, and undertook various projects to promote the mission of adult faith formation in this country.

Sister Maureen Shaughnessy served as Assistant Secretary for Catechesis and Leadership Formation at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, DC from 1996 until June 2003. She has also served as a national leader in adult catechesis and as staff to the US Bishops. During her tenure there, the key document on which all this work is based, Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us was approved and published by the U.S. Bishops in 2000.

David was involved with the National Advisory Committee on Adult Religious Education (NACARE) as a consultant for Adult Faith Formation, a new term for describing what the Church was about in its work with adults. In this capacity he worked with members of the committee and others in the field to produce the document, Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us, the US Bishops’ pastoral on Adult Faith Formation. After the publication of the document he worked with Jack Mc Bride, to write the Leaders Guide to "Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us."

This leader's guide provides step-by-step guidance in bringing the vision of adult faith formation to life at the parish and diocesan level. The guide includes easy-to-follow models of group sessions aimed at helping adult believers better understand their faith, proclaim their faith, and live their faith. Adaptable to a wide range of parish and diocesan groups and committees, the sessions can be facilitated by anyone interested in helping adults to be touched and transformed by the life-giving message of Jesus. Includes the complete text of Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us. (USCCB web site)

Move to the Dayton Region

In 1995, David moved from the Cincinnati office to the Dayton region to become Regional Director. Adult Faith Formation (as it was coming to be called) was a primary focus for David.  He developed a training course for parish Adult Faith Formation leaders and, in concert with Jane Pierron, a manual for parishes.  Later Jane and David with Kristina Krimm, revised it, leading to its publication by the NCCL (National Conference of Catechetical Leaders) under the title Nurturing Adult Faith.

With Jack McBride, David worked with the National Issues Forums, sponsored by the Kettering Foundation, to create a program entitled the “National Issues Forums in the Catholic Community.”   NIFCC as it was called sought to help Catholics reflect on the key civic issues of the day through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching.

David was a member of the St. Anthony Messenger Press Catechetical Advisory Board (2002-07) whose purpose was to advise them on key issues in the catechesis of adults.  He also served as books and media reviewer for Catechist magazine for several years. In 2003-4, he wrote a column entitled “Adult Faith Formation” in FaithWorks, a newsletter edited by Jean Marie Hiesberger.  He was a catechetical advisor to the adult module for an audio video training program produced by RCL Benziger publishing entitled Echoes of Faith.  In addition he was awarded the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership’s Distinguished Service Award in 2009.  He also organized the Dayton Deanery Evangelization Team, which won the NCCL’s New Wineskins Award for best efforts in evangelization in 2010.

As Regional Director, one of his primary focuses was Adult Faith Formation. The Dayton Region Adult Faith Formation committee and the Dayton Deanery Evangelization Team were two of the grassroots groups that David organized to create and carry out actions in this area.

Other areas of David’s work included ways to involve parents in the religious formation of their children. Whole Community Catechesis was a significant method for doing this. Workshops by Bill Huebsch and Leisa Ansliger reached many of the catechetical leaders in the Archdiocese in order to familiarize them with these approaches.

David’s work with the catechetical leaders of the Dayton Region of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati was always one of supportive care and listening. While he developed many creative responses to the challenging issues confronting faith formation of the various age groups, these were done in concert with those they impacted. He was a listener who supported his colleagues and catechetical leaders in their difficulties and struggles, both personal and professional.

As one looks at all the activities David was involved in over the years, one sees a commitment to excellence in how adult faith formation was done and support for the profession of lay ecclesial ministry. Both of these are essential for the future development and growth of the Catholic Church in the United States. Without David and people like him, this work might have happened less quickly and less professionally.

The National Conference for Catechetical Leadership

David’s involvement in NCCL, a national organization of parish and diocesan catechetical leaders, dated back to the mid 1980’s and in 2003 he helped form the Adult Faith Formation Committee for that organization. Among his other NCCL activities, David chaired a subcommittee that conducted and published Best Practices in Adult Faith Formation: A National Study, which was published in 2006.  In 2009 David received the NCCL’s Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to the catechetical community and to NCCL.

Contributions to Christian Education

One of the most significant movements in the Catholic Church as a result of Vatican II was the change in the role of the laity. The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, promulgated in November 1964, speaks of the Church as “the people of God” thus treating all its members as equally called by God in and through their baptism. As stated in # 31:

The term laity is here understood to mean all the faithful except those in holy orders and those in the state of religious life specially approved by the Church. These faithful are by baptism made one body with Christ and are constituted among the People of God; they are in their own way made sharers in the priestly, prophetical, and kingly functions of Christ; and they carry out for their own part the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world. (Lumen Gentium, paragraph 31)

The laity is given a specific area of responsibility in the paragraph following the above:

What specifically characterizes the laity is their secular nature...But the laity, by their very vocation, seeks the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God. They live in the world, that is, in each and in all of the secular professions and occupations. They live in the ordinary circumstances of family and social life, from which the very web of their existence is woven. They are called there by God that by exercising their proper function and led by the spirit of the Gospel they may work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven. In this way they may make Christ known to others, especially by the testimony of a life resplendent in faith, hope and charity. Therefore, since they are tightly bound up in all types of temporal affairs it is their special task to order and to throw light upon these affairs in such a way that they may come into being and then continually increase according to Christ to the praise of the Creator and the Redeemer…. (Lumen Gentium, paragraph 31)

As the Catholic Church began to reflect on the meaning of this momentous document with its many implications, the importance of what was called “adult religious education” came to the fore. If the laity was responsible for bringing the message of God’s reign to our world, they had to come to know, reflect on, and put into action this message.

In addition, Vatican II emphasized the role of parents in the formation and education of their children as follows:

In connection with the prophetic function is that state of life which is sanctified by a special sacrament obviously of great importance, namely, married and family life. For where Christianity pervades the entire mode of family life, and gradually transforms it, one will find there both the practice and an excellent school of the lay apostolate. In such a home husbands and wives find their proper vocation in being witnesses of the faith and love of Christ to one another and to their children. The Christian family loudly proclaims both the present virtues of the Kingdom of God and the hope of a blessed life to come. Thus by its example and its witness it accuses the world of sin and enlightens those who seek the truth…. (Lumen Gentium, paragraph 35)

“Therefore, let the laity devotedly strive to acquire a more profound grasp of revealed truth, and let them insistently beg of God the gift of wisdom.” (Lumen Genitum, paragraph 35)

It is in the light of these statements and as a result of efforts to help Catholics to understand and respond to Vatican II, that those in the field of religious education moved to create educational opportunities for Catholic adults/parents. David Riley was one of the early pioneers in this effort.

While working in Dayton, David also was a part of the beginning of the Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation, an international online learning program for adults sponsored by the University of Dayton’s Institute for Pastoral Initiatives.  David, along with colleague, Jane Pierron, authored the first course that the VLCFF conducted.  Since then the program has served thousands of adult Catholics, catechists and other lay ministers. 

David also was one of the early pioneers in working for the just treatment and just salaries for parish and diocese catechetical leaders. He wrote a study guide for the National Association of Church Personnel Administrators document, Just Treatment for Those Who Work for the Church. His essay in Why We Serve: Personal Stories of Catholic Lay Ministers, edited by Douglas Fisher, captures well the challenges of working for the Catholic Church as a layperson.

Both of the major areas of David’s work have been and will continue to be important aspects of the work of Catholic faith formation. If the Church is going to continue to form adults well, it is essential that it develop the theory and practice of this discipline. It is also crucial that its ministers who are, and will continue to be, predominately laypeople, be formed for this ministry. But it is also crucial that these lay ministers receive the support they need both financially and professionally. It is in these areas that David has helped build a foundation that can lead to structures that work for all.

Writings Cited:

“Minister and Professional,” in Why We Serve: Personal Stories of Catholic Lay Ministers edited by Douglas Fisher, Paulist Press, New York, 1984, p. 120.

The Modern Practice of Adult Education:From Pedagogy to Andragogy Revised and Updated by Malcolm Knowles (1980) Cambridge New York NY 10106

General Catechetical Directory Rome, April 11, 1971

Evangelii Nuntiandi an apostolic exhortation issued on 8 December 1975 by Pope Paul VI

Catechesi Tradendae Apostolic Exhortation of Pope John Paul II, issued in 1979, on catechesis in our time

Lumen Gentium, paragraphs 31, 35

Sharing the Light of Faith: National Catechetical Directory for Catholics of the United States United States Catholic Conference

Serving Life and Faith Adult Religious Education and the American Catholic Community (Publication / Office of Publishing and Promotion Services, United States Catholic Conference)

Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us: A Pastoral Plan for Adult Faith Formation in the United States issued by NCCB/USCC (now USCCB), November 17, 1999
Copyright © 1999, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

National Profile of Professional Religious Education Coordinators/directors Thomas Walters National Conference of Catechetical Leaders, 1983 - 109 pages

USCCB Website:


Books/Chapters in Books

(1984). Minister and professional. In D. Fisher (Ed.), Why we serve: Personal stories of Catholic lay ministers (pp. 119-132). New York: Paulist Press.

(1992). Ministries growing together.  Edited by Kenneth T. Gleason, Kevin Jones-Prendergast, Marilyn Kielbasa, and David M. Riley. Winona, MN: Saint Mary’s Press.

(1994). Catechists in formation: Introduction to catechetical methods, Second Edition, by Peter Ries, consultant David Riley. Mission Hills, CA: Benzinger Publishing Co.

(1995). Catechist in formation: Program manual, by Peter Ries, consultant David Riley. Mission Hills, CA: Benzinger Publishing Co.

(1995). The University of Dayton catechist formation program, leader’s guide: Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures, by David Riley, Peter Li. Dayton, OH: University of Dayton.

(1998). You have been called! by David M. Riley, Patricia A. Rau, Peter Li. Dayton, OH: University of Dayton.

(2000). Leader’s guide to: Our hearts were burning within us. Washington, DC: Department of Education, United States Catholic Conference.

(2003). Nurturing adult faith, a manual for parish leaders, Edited by Kristina Krimm, Jane A. Pierron, and David M. Riley. Washington, DC: National Conference for Catechetical Leadership.

(2006). Best practices in adult faith formation: A national study. by David Riley and Jack McBride. Washington, DC: National Conference for Catechetical Leadership.


(2003, Aug/Sept). Adult faith formation: What is it really? FaithWorks, 6(1), 7.

(2003, Nov). If they come, you will build it. FaithWorks, 6(3), 7.

(2003, Dec). The parish as curriculum. FaithWorks, 6(4), 7.

(2004, Jan). Can I get a witness? FaithWorks, 6(5), 7.

(2004, Mar). Adult faith formation in cyberspace. FaithWorks, 6(7), 7.

(2004, May/June). Faith formation for the generations. FaithWorks, 6(9),7. 

Excerpts from Publications

There is a painful disparity between Church teaching on justice in labor and current Church policies. I never wanted to be a hired hand, but seeing myself in that way, as someone who markets his skills in exchange for a wage, ironically, was necessary to my survival. In the absence of the Church, I learned to be the good shepherd to myself. The Church never taught me that. I still see my work as ministry, but I have come to terms with the fact that I cannot give my heart to it blindly. To do so is to have it broken again and again. I know now that it is not an either-or situation. I must become both a minister and a professional.

Why We Serve: Personal Stories of Catholic Lay Ministers, edited by Douglas Fisher, Paulist Press, New York//Ramsey, 1984, “Minister and Professional,” p. 131-2.

I recently heard a speaker at a large convention say that he believed that many Catholic adults have never actually experienced Christ and the saving power of Christ in their lives.  They have never experienced first hand the radical transformation that comes when one is overwhelmed by the unconditional love and acceptance by the living, loving presence of Jesus Christ. I had often thought about this when I worked as a DRE in a parish. But lately, since my work path has shifted to the diocesan level, I had not really reflected on just how critically important is this simple fact. Without a genuine encounter and living relationship with Christ, everything we do in the Church makes no sense whatsoever.

“Can I Get a Witness?,” FaithWorks, Vol. 6, No. 5, Jan. 2004, p. 7

Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us: A Pastoral Plan for Adult Faith Formation in the United States…is a clear call to reinvigorate the effort to foster adult faith formation throughout the United States. Dedicated faith communities of adult believers commit themselves to a lifelong journey of understanding their faith, proclaiming their faith, and living their faith. The effort that nurtures the development of this adult faith community must be intentional, organized, and faithful.

Leader’s Guide to: Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us, Department of Education, United States Catholic Conference, Washington DC, 2000, p. 2.

Issues, Questions, and Recommendations

1. Center adult faith formation on spiritual growth processes…

2.     Provide opportunities for adults to build relationships with one another…

3.     Create learning environments that are friendly, flexible and informal…

4.     Be sensitive to the scarcity of time that adults experience…

5.     Create Synergy…

6.     Listen very carefully to what people are talking about…

7.     Gather and train a parish adult faith formation team…

Best Practices in Adult Faith Formation: A National Study, David Riley and Jack McBride, National Conference for Catechetical Leadership, Washington DC, 2006, p. 27-8.

Are Parochial Schools the Answer?: Catholic Education in the Light of the Council. Mary Perkins Ryan Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964

This was an outstanding and significant book that raised the question about the role of Catholic schools resulting from the emphasis of Vatican II on the role of the laity in the Church. The focus needed to change from the education of children to the formation of adult believers.

Why We Serve: Personal Stories of Catholic Lay Ministers, edited by Douglas Fisher, Paulist Press, New York//Ramsey, 1984, “Minister and Professional,” pp. 119-132.

This essay is a short history of David Riley’s work in ministry in the Catholic Church. It captures the struggles, problems and issues of ministry in the Catholic Church.

Catechists in Formation: Introduction to Catechetical Methods, Second Edition, Peter Ries, consultant David Riley, Benzinger Publishing Co., Mission Hills, CA, 1994.

Catechist in Formation: Program Manual, Peter Ries, consultant David Riley, Benzinger Publishing Co., Mission Hills, CA, 1995.

These two booklets are contributions to catechist formation, a concern in developing the faith of the catechist to prepare them to work with young people.

The University of Dayton Catechist Formation Program, Leader’s Guide: Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures, David Riley, Peter Li, Dayton OH, 1995.

The Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation at the University of Dayton offers online courses for adults who are interested in growing in their faith either as catechists or as adults interested in deepening their faith. This is a manual for the course introducing the Hebrew Scriptures.

You Have Been Called! David M. Riley and Patricia A. Rau, Peter Li, Dayton OH, 1998.

What is the vocation and ministry of the parish catechist? This is the question this book addresses, challenging the catechist to reflect on their ministry.

Leader’s Guide to: Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us, Department of Education, United States Catholic Conference, Washington DC, 2000.

One of the most significant documents to come out of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in the area of Adult Faith Formation was Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us. This Leader’s Guide aids those interested in studying the document in their dioceses and parishes. It is an outstanding resource! It uses adult education principles to study adult faith formation.

Nurturing Adult Faith, A Manual for Parish Leaders, edited by Kristina Krimm, Jane A. Pierron, and David M. Riley, National Conference for Catechetical Leadership, Washington DC, 2003.

This resource was put together be three members of the staff of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati for parish Adult Faith Formation Leaders to use with parish Adult Faith Formation Teams. It was used by a number of parishes and published by the National Conference of Catechetical Leadership for use by other dioceses.

Best Practices in Adult Faith Formation: A National Study, David Riley and Jack McBride, National Conference for Catechetical Leadership, Washington DC, 2006.

Jack McBride and David Riley published this study, which shared the results of a survey by a sub-committee of the Adult Faith Formation Committee of NCCL. This national survey provided examples of AFF best practices in dioceses throughout the United States.

Author Information

Dan Thomas


Dan Thomas Dayton OH (1940); Chaminade HS 1958; University of Dayton (BA History, 1962), (MA History 1984), (MA Pastoral Ministry 1988); High School teacher 1962-1980; Director of Religious Education: Immaculate Conception Parish (1980-96), St. Columkille Parish (1996-2001), Corpus Christi Parish (2001-2005), St. John the Baptist Parish (2005- 2010). Catechist magazine writer. Book reviewer, Catechetical Leader magazine. Retired from Parish Ministry 2010.