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Jane Regan

By Wayne A. Cavalier, OP


JANE E. REGAN (b. September 30, 1952) is Director of Continuing Education and Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Education at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry.  A Roman Catholic, her research and teaching focus primarily on adult faith formation and the interdisciplinary work of bringing adult development and adult learning theory and the dynamics of faith communities into theoretical and pastoral dialogue. She has long argued for the centrality of adult faith formation in the mission of evangelization for the life and vitality of the church.   In addition to her scholarly work, Professor Regan serves as a consultant on the local, regional, and national levels on the important work of assisting catechetical leaders to transform present faith formation practice to realize the vision of an adult church in mission. Her wide-ranging publication and teaching activities address the theory and practice of faith formation at the scholarly, professional, and practical levels.


Jane E. Regan was born on September 30, 1952 in Southington, CT to John and Jean (Dunnigan) Regan, both Roman Catholics. She was baptized at St. Thomas Roman Catholic Church in Southington and has been a practicing Roman Catholic all her life. She was the third of 4 children, 2 girls and 2 boys. Jane was a precocious child among precocious siblings. She attended Notre Dame Academy for her elementary education, followed by Waterbury Catholic High School; both schools were sponsored by the sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame. Her primary influences in religious education during her childhood included her Catholic schooling as well as her involvement in parish life.  From an early age Jane remembers her mother’s engagement with the parish, particularly teaching in the religious education program (CCD).  The sisters of the Missionary Servants of the Blessed Trinity staffed the parish and through them as well as her mother’s example Jane came to appreciate the importance of religious education and its place within the life of the parish

After she completed high school, Jane’s family moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  She attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte from 1971 – 1975, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in psychology.  Throughout her studies, Jane worked as an assistant in a center for children with profound mental retardation, an area of interest in her studies as well.  Having received a scholarship from the Extension Society of America, Jane began graduate studies in religious education at Fordham University, a Jesuit school in New York City. She received her master’s degree in 1976.

Between 1976 and 1982, Jane worked as a religious educator in parishes in North Carolina and Massachusetts and then became part of the diocesan staff in the Springfield Dioceses in Massachusetts. Jane co-authored her first of several catechetical resources aimed at assisting catechetical leaders to practice their calling. The “Teaching Religion Effectively Program,” co-authored with Mary K. Cove was published by William C. Brown Publishers in 1982. The following year, Jane entered the Ph.D. program in the Department of Religion and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. She also began her teaching career that year, first as a teaching assistant and soon as a summer instructor, an adjunct professor, and as a visiting assistant professor in various Catholic universities in the Northeast and Midwest. While working on her dissertation, she served as Assistant Professor of Theology at St. John’s University School of Theology in Collegeville, MN from 1986 to 1993.

Professor Berard Marthaler directed Jane’s dissertation and Catherine Dooley, OP served as an advisor. These two are recognized today as outstanding religious education theorists in the Catholic tradition. From Marthaler, Regan gained a rich grounding in the history of catechesis in the Christian community and an appreciation for ecclesial catechetical documents. From Dooley, Regan learned about the essential interplay between liturgy and formation and the dynamics of formation that are resident in ritual action. From both, she gained key insights into the role of the believing community in creating a matrix of formation through its authentic practices. She was awarded the Ph.D. in 1989, having successfully defended her dissertation on the topic, “The Examination of Conscience in American Prayer Books as Catechesis on Sin.”

In 1990, while teaching at St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN, Regan served as the theological and catechetical consultant to a parish in which the leadership had decided to move from a traditional catechetical model focused exclusively on children and youth to one focused on the whole community with a particular attention to adults. Regan describes the results as follows: “Over the next couple of years, a vibrant, creative, and effective process of faith formation evolved that invited all members of the parish community into a shared experience of growing in faith together” (Regan, 2002, p. 113). She goes on to credit the program with playing “a significant role in enhancing the faith life of the members of the parish and in strengthening the identity and unity of the parish” (p. 237). Reflecting on this experience over a decade later, Regan observes that this “was one of the most invigorating and vision-transforming experiences of my professional life” (p. 237).

Her early writings, mostly book reviews in Catholic catechetical and spirituality journals, broadly address areas related to catechetical theory, covering an array of topics on faith development and catechesis in the family and community context. Her interests demonstrate a concern to develop an over-arching theory that synthesizes data from a variety of disciplines and perspectives. A number of these book reviews betray an early interest in adult faith formation, particularly as it is modeled in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. They also already demonstrate an interdisciplinary inquiry into the topic. Between 1989 and 1992, Jane published an average of 4 short pieces and 2 longer articles per year. In 1992, St. John’s University granted her tenure and promoted her to Associate Professor of Theology, a position she held until 1996. During that time, Liturgical Press published her collaborative work Exploring the Catechism (1995). She both edited and contributed substantially to the volume, working with Michael P. Horan, Timothy Backous O.S.B., Francis K. Nemeck, and Marie Theresa Coombs. According to Michael Warren, the book provides “key background” for “an introduction to contemporary catechetics" in language that can be understood by catechetical leaders. Warren judges that in the text, Regan’s “own writing and analyses are first-rate” (1995, p. 568).

In 1992, with her career set and a sense of being engaged in worthwhile work, Jane decided to adopt a child. A year later she traveled to Magnitogorsk, Russia to adopt Natalya; a year and a half after that Catie, who is also from Russia, was added to the family.  Single parenting has its challenges and Jane credits family, friends and colleagues for their ongoing support. As Jane writes in her dedication in Toward an Adult Church, “We are told repeatedly that parents are their children’s first teachers in the faith. But perhaps we have forgotten that the converse is true as well. To Natalya and Catie who have taught me a great deal about what it means to be a woman of faith” (iii). Sadly, in May of 2013 Natalya died of complications from a liver transplant.

In 1996, Jane accepted the position of Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Education at the Institute for Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry (IREPM) at Boston College, a Jesuit university in that Massachusetts city. Here, she would work in collaboration with Thomas Groome, Harold Horell, Colleen Griffth, and Nancy Pineda Madrid among others. From that point on, Jane engaged in substantial writing and presentations on the national level focused on the question of leadership for adult faith formation in the Roman Catholic community. Her approach placed this concern within the broader reality of the Roman Catholic Church’s recognition of the need to challenge its members to respond to God’s call to mission with a mature faith.

In her work, the particular focus of the IREPM on effective religious education in the postmodern context is clearly evident. This new layer adds richness and depth to her maturing vision of an adult church promoted by a dynamic faith formation that takes adult development and adult learning processes seriously. At this time, Regan responds to a growing recognition by Catholic catechetical leaders on the national level of her expertise in addressing the important issue of adult faith formation in the Catholic community. Making major presentations to these groups of leaders becomes a primary means by which she works to bring about change in the Roman Catholic community. She also served as a senior consultant to Loyola Press’s innovative Finding God catechetical series, bringing her commitment to effective adult faith formation to the creation of a series of resource books which she coauthored with Mimi Bitzan.

In 2002, Regan published her major work, Toward an Adult Church: A Vision of Faith Formation, a book addressed to theorists and practitioners of religious education alike. This interdisciplinary work synthesizes material from ecclesiology, adult development, adult learning, community dynamics, and leadership theory with catechetical principles to offer a way toward a renewed paradigm for faith formation in the Roman Catholic community worthy of the renewed ecclesiological vision of the Second Vatican Council.

During this period, her teaching activities have focused on similar areas, including catechetical leadership, implications of the postmodern context for the practice of religious education, catechetical theory, and adult faith formation. Simultaneously, she has mentored doctoral students working on dissertations not only in the areas of adult faith formation, but also in such areas as the use of technology in faith formation. Many of the students she has directed have gone on to serve in leadership roles especially in Christian education in the Roman Catholic and other Christian churches.

In the same year as the publication of her book Regan was granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor at Boston College.

Since then, Regan has carried on her contributions to the field on a variety of fronts. In addition to a wide array of regional and national speaking engagements that share her insights into adult faith formation with leaders in the field, she also turned her attention to the production of catechetical resources targeted to parents of young children preparing for reception of the sacraments. Through her various initiatives, Regan demonstrates her capacity to address the concern for adult faith formation not only at the theoretical and professional level, but also at the practical level. For her, these are essentially related spheres.

In 2009, the National Conference of Catechetical Leaders honored Professor Regan with its Catechetical Award. The award is given annually in recognition of outstanding or exemplary contributions to the ministry of catechesis.  Recipients are recognized for demonstrating all four of the following characteristics: a life of witness to the Word of God; a magnanimous spirit of love and service to the Church; a vocation to ministry characterized by a pioneering spirit and innovative vision; and a dedication and significant contribution to the ministry of catechesis in the Church at large.  The commendation for Regan reads:  “In recognition of her research in adult learning theory, community practices and adult faith formation at the parish level, along with her commitment to continually challenge the catechetical ministry to give the highest priority to adult catechesis for the vitality of an evangelizing and engaging Church.”

In late 2011, Regan accepted the position of Director of Continuing Education at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry, which includes both on-campus events and online courses and workshops. This work extends Regan’s legacy of bridging the theoretical and practical worlds of Christian Religious Education in the Roman Catholic community.

On the other hand, Regan continues to pursue her theoretical work as she explores the fuller implications of the renewed vision of a church in mission and how this dynamic ecclesial vision gives rise not only to the centrality of adult faith formation for the Christian community, but also to an understanding that the community’s being as a whole is in itself a process of formation for mature discipleship. Her theoretical work therefore now focuses on contributing to the development of a theory of the Christian community as a learning community through the exploration of theories of learning organizations from the discipline of management and of communities of practice from the disciplines of anthropology and professional education. Her work promises to add needed depth to a growing movement that until now arguably has been poorly grounded.

Works Cited

Regan, Jane E. (2002). Toward an adult church: a vision of faith formation.  Chicago: Loyola Press.

Warren, Michael (1995). Review of the book Exploring the Catechism by Jane E. Regan et alWorship69(6), 568-569. 

Contributions to Christian Education

Having been a part of a successful parish effort to transform the practice of faith formation along the lines suggested by the renewed ecclesial vision of the Second Vatican Council, one might say that Regan has been on a professional quest to make it possible for catechetical leaders to replicate this success on a national scale. She has worked to realize this vision on every level, from the foundational philosophical level sourced by a wide-ranging interdisciplinary inquiry, to the practical level of inculcating the vision in parish catechetical leaders and teaching them skills for transforming present parish structures according to that vision. Her major works reflect all these concerns often side by side.

Catechesis at the service of an ecclesial vision.

To appreciate fully the contribution that Jane Regan has made to Christian Education, one must place her work within the context of what has become known as the Modern Catechetical Movement within the Roman Catholic community. Along with several other reforming movements within the same tradition beginning in the late 19th century and gaining momentum throughout the early 20th century, the Modern Catechetical Movement helped to shape the agenda of the transformative Second Vatican Council. The focus of that Council on a renewed understanding of the church had all-encompassing implications for the practices of the church, catechetics among them. Repositioning the church’s self-identification from the static institutional perspective that had gained sway since the Reformation, Vatican II preferred a more dynamic ecclesial vision. As the pilgrim people of God on its way to the Reign of God, the church took on a renewed view of itself as a communion in mission. Consequently, the church recognized that it was both the fruit and the source of evangelization, the preaching of the good news of God’s Reign.

Post-conciliar reflection on the implications of this renewed vision for the practice of catechesis led to completely new emphases. A significant moment was the promulgation of the 1971 General Catechetical Directory, updated and renamed in 1997 as the General Directory for Catechesis.  The General Directory was considered a major milestone for the Roman Catholic community and a direct application of the insights that came out of the Second Vatican Council and that found particularly vivid expression in the papal documents Evangelii Nutiandi (On Evangelization in the Modern World), promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1975 and Catechesi Tradendae (On Catechesis in our Time), promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1979.  Another important outcome of the Council was the reinstatement of the Catechumenate, the process of initiation by which adult converts to Christianity were catechized, with the Easter Triduum liturgy as its central focus. The resultant Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (1972), coupled with the visionary implementation promoted by the North American Forum for the Catechumenate, came to be considered an “inspiration” for all of catechesis because of its holistic and community-centered approach that took the adult status of participants seriously.

The singular achievement of all these developments was a complete revisioning of the Church and its catechetical ministry within a global understanding of the mission of evangelization. Catechesis could no longer be understood as the process of indoctrinating young members into full church membership, culminating with the celebration of confirmation in high school. Now, catechesis was understood as the process of transformation that facilitates the movement from neophyte Christian (initial conversion) to mature disciple in communion and mission. A key concept was “apprenticeship” as the process by which mature Christians in community by virtue of their faithful practice of all the dimensions of Christian life together would engage the neophyte on the journey to mature and faithful Christian living.

Jane Regan was not the first or only voice in the Roman Catholic community to recognize and address the sea change in understanding that this ecclesial renewal required for the practice of catechesis. In fact, the Catholic Bishops of the United States published their pastoral plan for adult faith formation, Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us, already in 1999.

However, she is the only theorist who has seriously addressed the fact that despite all the re-visioning, little is happening to reflect that vision on the ground, and that whatever is happening lacks a deep understanding of the nature of the revolutionary change in the central concern of catechesis from that of children and youth to that of adults. Significantly, she came along at a time when others, particularly Leon McKenzie and those who relied on his work, were proposing solutions based on the pioneering adult education work of Malcolm Knowles, promoter of the andragogy school of secular adult education theory. While these approaches were helpful in beginning to address the shortcomings of adult Christian education efforts in Roman Catholic parishes, they suffered the same shortcomings for which the andragogy school of thought had been criticized. Without directly addressing the issue, Regan’s work laid bare the issue: while Knowles’ approach was derived from observing adult learners and getting to know their needs as learners, it stopped short of addressing adult learning as a process unique to adults. Instead, it remained at a level of techniques for better accommodating the educational environment needs of adults. Consequently, there have been real questions raised about whether in fact the techniques for improving adult learning proposed by Knowles and those who rely on his work are in fact specific to adults, or would they make the learning environment better for all learners of every age.

Without denying the value of andragogical educational techniques for adult learners, Regan, as suggested above, has explored the intersection between the developmental and learning tasks of which adults are specifically capable and the transformative process of adult faith formation demanded by the renewed ecclesial vision of the post-conciliar Roman Catholic community. Clearly what is required is a faith-formation experience that will nurture and guide initial conversion and inspire and foster ongoing conversion into mature discipleship. This is about more than a comfortable learning environment in which participants have some say in the topics that are addressed and teachers act as facilitators of learning, key concerns of andragogy among others. It is about the central task of adult development: authentic meaning-making and the processes that foster the adult’s mastery of that challenging activity.

In her work, Regan seeks to honor fully the complexity of what it means to address the concern of the church to foster the journey of the evangelized along the way of becoming evangelizers. She takes seriously the holistic nature of this journey and thus of the need to attend holistically to the practices of faith formation that will foster and guide it. Ultimately, what this journey entails for the adult is the transformation of one’s worldview into one that is shaped by gospel values. One’s worldview, or how one perceives the world around him or her, has to do with the meaning-making tasks that are specific to the adult. For a full understanding of these tasks, Regan brings into the conversation those theories of adult development from the human sciences that provide insights into the nature of these tasks and therefore of the processes that can aid the adult in successfully negotiating them. Engaging not only the structural developmental theorists (rooted in Jean Piaget’s work) and the psychosocial developmental theorists (Erik Erikson) but also their interlocutors, in particular Robert Kegan’s positing of meaning-constitutive-evolutionary activity, Regan mines their work for implications related to nurturing the faith and spiritual development of adults. From this exploration, she makes proposals for the religious education environment that will most effectively foster this. It is a hospitable, religious holding environment where the other is held in memory as a means to support rather than stifle their growth and development.

Regan further dialogues with the transformative learning theory of Jack Mezirow to find the theoretical foundations on which to build an approach to adult faith formation that places the concern for meaning-making at its center. Identifying the most important tasks of adult learning as the overcoming of limited and distorted meaning perspectives that determine for better or for worse our understanding of and therefore our response to reality, Mezirow posits that critical conversation that is disciplined and supported by a community is what leads to emancipatory learning. Through critical conversation, our distorted meaning perspectives are eventually transformed to more adequate meaning perspectives and we are emancipated from inadequate ways of responding to reality.

While Mezirow offers helpful scaffolding for understanding an emancipatory learning process specific to adults that can be analogously related to the process of conversion, it is in consideration of critiques of his theory that Regan is able to fill out the theory so that it more adequately configures to the rich context of Christian faith formation. Thus, Mezirow’s highly rational approach is balanced by attention to the affective and imaginative; his extreme emphasis on the individual is tempered by the awareness of the essential role of the community to the individual’s identity; and his focus on individual emancipation is broadened to include emancipation at the societal level. Regan engages the work of Paulo Freire to complement Mezirow’s work on the latter point. A central conviction of Mezirow becomes a key for Regan: the motivation for perspective transformation comes from life experiences, but not just any life experience given the challenges implicit in the process—life experience that is meaningful to us, rooted in those matters we care about most.

In her use of critiques of Mezirow’s work as well as that of the developmental theorists, we see a theme in the way Regan approaches her work. She refuses to take the easy means simply of baptizing the work of others to absorb them uncritically into the matrix of Christian education. By seriously exploring critical assessments of these theories, she is able to discern how these theories can be amplified to integrate perspectives that can be most authentically integrated into the vision of Christian education. That is, for the developmentalists, she finds the entry point to be perspectives that explore the spiritual dimensions of the theories specifically by attending to the neglected aspects of their approaches. For transformative learning, it is the human fully considered, filling out Mezirow’s anemic anthropology, that becomes the bridge between that theory and Christian education.

Interdisciplinary and Multi-Dimensional

The experience of attaining tenure at Boston College was challenging. The achievement was accompanied by the tensions that exist between the theoretical focus on the part of the theology faculty and the practical focus of the ministry formation faculty, a tension that Regan’s lifework embraces and attempts to overcome. Regan holds together simultaneously the critical work of the scholar-theorist, the praxis of the professional practitioner, and the faithful practice of the local pastoral agent and adult Christian. She is a scholar and a parent, an advisor on the national level to catechetical leaders, and an adult faith formator in her parish. These are not accidental juxtapositions, nor does Regan allow them to remain in distinct spheres. They interpenetrate and cross-fertilize one another, just as her interdisciplinary interests do for her groundbreaking catechetical insights.

This is equally demonstrated by the time and energy Regan puts into a wide array of regional and national speaking engagements that share her insights into adult faith formation with leaders in the field, as well as to the production of catechetical resources targeted to parents of young children preparing for reception of the sacraments. This activity reinforces several important convictions that Regan promotes through her writing, teaching, and speaking. First, she believes that there are already many opportunities for effective adult faith formation in the Catholic community if we choose to see them and take advantage of them. Second, effective adult faith formation is not necessarily about doing more. Rather, it is about doing the same things we do now, but doing them differently, with an intentional focus on the end of becoming an ecclesial communion in mission. Finally, effective adult faith formation addresses the things adults care about and facilitates a critical conversation around those matters.

Works Cited

Catholic Bishops, National Conference of. (1999). Our hearts were burning within us: a pastoral plan for adult faith formation in the United States. Washington, DC: USCC.

Clergy, Sacred Congregation for the. (1971). General catechetical directory. Retrieved from

Clergy, Sacred Congregation for the. (1997). General directory for catechesis.  Retrieved from

International Commission for English in the Liturgy. (1988). Rite of Christian initiation of adults. Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications.

John Paul II, Pope. (1979).  Catechesi tradendae (on catechesis in our time). Retrieved from

Paul VI, Pope. (1975). Evangelii nutiandi (on evangelization in the modern world). Retrieved from



Regan, Jane E, et al. (1995). Exploring the catechism. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.

Regan, Jane E. & Horan, Michael (1998). Good news in new forms: a companion to the general directory for catechesis. Washington DC: National Conference of Catechetical Leaders.

Regan, Jane E. (2002). Toward an adult church: a vision of faith formation. Chicago: Loyola Press. Published in French through Lumen Vitae, 2007.

Regan, Jane E. (2003). Toward an evangelizing church. (monograph) Washington DC: National Catholic Educational Association.

Regan, Jane E. (Forthcoming).  Building a firm foundation: exploring the implications of communities of practice for parishes and congregations.

Chapters in Books:

Regan, Jane E. (2009). Fostering the next generation of faithful women. In Colleen Griffith (Ed.), Prophetic witness: catholic women’s strategies for reform (pp. 235-251). New York: Crossroad.

Regan, Jane E. (2008). Catechumenate as inspiration for all catechesis. In Patricia Kieran and Anne Hession (Eds.), Exploring religious education: catholic religious education in an intercultural Europe.  Dublin: Veritas.

Regan, Jane E. (2002). The aim of catechesis: educating for an adult church. In Harold Horrel and Thomas Groome (Eds.), Horizons and hopes of religious education (pp. 31-50). Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

Regan, Jane E. (1998). Principles of catechesis. In Thomas Groome and Michael Corso (Eds.), Empowering catechetical leaders.  Washington DC: National Catholic Education Association.

Regan, Jane E. (1996). Overview - basic teachings for catholic religious education and Overview - Catechesis in our Times. In Martin Connell (Ed.), The catechetical documents: a parish resource (pp. 118-121; 368-371 respectively). Chicago: Liturgical Training Publication.

Regan, Jane E. (1988). Catechesi tradendae.  In New catholic encyclopedia yearbook, (pp. 68-69).


Regan, Jane E. (2003). Adult faith formation: will it catch on this time? America, 189(8), 18-21.

Regan, Jane E. (2000). When is catechesis with adults genuinely adult? The Living Light, 37(1), 15-25.

Regan, Jane E. (2000). The ministry of the word. Assembly, 26(3), 1-3.

Regan, Jane E. (1998). Catechesis for the next millennium: focus on adults.  Listening  33(1), 7-21.

Regan, Jane E. (March 1997). Sacraments: celebrating the Christian mystery. The Catechist Connection, 1-2

Regan, Jane E. (April 1992). Catechesis for adult faith. The Catechist's Connection, 1-2.

Regan, Jane E. (1991). Catechesis for social justice: Rerum Novarum and the catholic press.  The Living Light 28(1), 19-30.

Regan, Jane E. (1991). Interpreting social justice documents:  Rerum Novarum  as case study. Journal for Peace and Justice Studies 3(2), 82-98.

Regan, Jane E. (1990). Concilium  on catechesis:  bibliographical survey. The Living Light 26(3), 260-269.

Regan, Jane E. (1989). The Lord’s prayer in catechetical texts: prayer, symbol, exhortation.  The Living Light 25, 325-335.

Book Reviews

Regan, Jane E. (2012). Review of the book Radicalizing learning: adult education for a just world, by Stephen D. Brookfield and John D. Holst. Journal of Adult Theological Education, 8(2), 201-202.

Regan, Jane E. (1999). Review of the book Mentoring in religious education by Leona English. The Living Light 35(4), 76-77.

Regan, Jane E. (1992). Review of the book Whither the U.S. church? context, gospel, planning by John A. Grindel. Worship 66(3), 281-282.    

Regan, Jane E. (1992). Review of the book Lay ministry: a theological, spiritual and pastoral handbook by William Rademacher. Worship 66(2), 189-190.

Regan, Jane E. (1991). Review of the book Religion in childhood and adolescence:  a comprehensive review of the research by Kenneth E. Hyde. Sisters Today 63, 384.

Regan, Jane E. (1989). Review of the book Commentaries: Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and Before and After Baptism: The Work of Teachers and Catechists by James Wilde in Worship 63(4), 377-378.

Regan, Jane E. (1988). Review of the book Teaching and religious imagination by Maria Harris’s in Sisters Today 59, 363-364.

Regan, Jane E. (1987). Review of the book The household of faith: Roman Catholic devotions in mid-nineteenth century America by Ann Taves. The Living Light 23(4), 368-369.

Regan, Jane E. (1987). Review of the book Handbook of adult religious education by Nancy  Foltz. The Living Light 23(3), 271-272.

Regan, Jane E. (1987). Review of the book Land flowering with milk and honey: perspective on feminist theology by Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendell. Sisters Today 58, 271-272.

Regan, Jane E. (1987). Review of the book Making a difference:  a catechist guide.  by Thomas and Rita Walters. The Living Light 23(2), 184-185.

Regan, Jane E. (1986). Review of the book Dictionary of Christian theology by Peter A. Angel. The Living Light 22(2), 186.

Regan, Jane E. (1986). Review of the book Selected writings on philosophy and adult education Sharon Merriam’s in  The Living Light 22(2), 182-183.

Catechetical resources:

Regan, Jane E. (Ed.) 2009. Growing faith for a vibrant church. Boston: C21 Resources.

Regan, Jane E. (Ed.) 2010. Growing faith for an evangelizing church. Boston: C21 Resources.

Regan, Jane E. & Bitzan, Mimi. (2004-2007). Gathering Sessions: Engaging Adults in Meaningful Conversation. (Vols. 1-3) Chicago: Loyola Press.

Regan, Jane E. (2002). Gathering together: first celebrations of eucharist and reconciliation. Chicago: Loyola Press.

Regan, Jane E. (1999). Discipleship and ministry as empowered by baptism. (Video Lecture). South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Satellite Theological Education Program.

Regan, Jane E. & Cove, Mary K. (1982). Teaching religion effectively program. Dubuque, IA: William C. Brown Publishers.

Selected National Presentations in Service to the Discipline of Religious Education

(2000 – present)

Regan, Jane E. (2009 April) Will our adults have faith? Keynote address delivered at the annual meeting of the National Conference of Catechetical Leaders.

(2008 February). Engaging the total parish in catechesis: gathering the tools, and fostering the next generation of faithful believers.  Presentation given at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress,

(2004 April). Keynote address given at the Transformative Learning for Enriched Leadership conference of the National Association of Parish Catechetical Leaders.

(2004 April). Fostering the faith of your teachers. Address given at the annual meeting of the National Catholic Education Association.

(2004 February). Sacramental formation: opportunity for adult faith formation and fashioning a faithful people for an adult church. Presentation given at the Los Angeles Catechetical Conference.

(2003 October).  Toward an adult church: a vision of faith formation. Address given at Convocation of Catechetical Ministers, Trenton, NY.

(2003 April). Toward an adult church: forming lay persons for a faith-filled future. Address given to catechetical leaders at NPCD, St. Louis, 23,

(2003 January) Forming adults for an evangelizing church. Presentation of a weekend workshop for the Wilmington, DE Diocese’s Catechetical and Family Life Weekend.

(2002 February). Making sessions with adults truly adult formation. Address given to religious educators at the East Coast Conference.

(2001 April). Becoming an evangelizing community. Address to the association of Chief Administrations of Catholic Education (CACE) Conversation at National Catholic Education Association, Washington, DC.

Selected Regional and Diocesan Presentations, Workshops and Courses 

2000 – Present

Regan, Jane E. (2011 February). Implementing the revised roman missal: a matter of faith formation. Presentation at the Southwest Liturgical Conference.

(2011 January). The Campus minister as teacher.  Keynote address given at the regional meeting of the Catholic Campus Ministry Association.

(2010 November). Being a parish that responds to the call and parish: a community of communities of practice. Presentation made to the annual meeting of theWisconsin Directors of Religious Education.

(2008 January). becoming an adult church. Course provided to the Diocese of Erie PA’s Annual Presbyteral Study Week.

(2006 October). Faith filled adults in a post-modern context. Workshop offered at the Archdiocesan Institute of Baltimore.

(2006 September). Facilitating conversation and toward an adult church. Workshops provided for the Diocesan Catechetical Conference, Miami FL.

(2006 June). Toward an adult church: taking the next best steps. Presentation made to the annual meeting of Catechetical Leaders of the Diocese of Winona, MN.

(2005 November). An adult church: engaging memory and openness.  Keynote address for the Parish Convening of the Diocese of Albany, NY.

(2005 June). From vision to reality: forming adults in our post-modern context. Presentation made at the annual Pastoral Institute of the Archdiocese of New York.

(2005 January) Catechizing for a lifetime of faith. Keynote address given at the annual convocation of the Diocese Of Galveston-Houston.

(2004 October) Uniting our gifts in ministry. Keynote address delivered at the Diocese of Omaha’s Ministers’ Formation Day.

(2004 October). Conversation about conversation: an essential element of adult faith formation. Workshop offered for the California Diocesan Directors of Catechetical Ministry.

(2004 October). The path from vision to program: a lengthy walk along the way. Presentation given to the Office of Religious Education and Formation of the Diocese of San Bernardino.

(2004 March). Toward an adult church: a vision of faith formation.  Workshop offered at the Diocese of St. Cloud, MN Leadership Day.

(2004 September). Stewards of god's gifts. Keynote address delivered at the Archdiocese of Louisville Leadership Day.

(2004 January). Evangelization and adult faith formation: a perfect match!  A presentation made at the annual pastoral conference of the Diocese of Joliet, IL.

(2003 October). Toward an adult church: a vision of faith formation. Presentation made to the Convocation of Catechetical Ministers of the Diocese of Trenton, NY.

(2003 May). The courage to teach: calling and forming catechists for an evangelizing church. Presentation made at the annual pastoral congress of the Diocese of Richmond, VA.

(2003 January). Forming adults for an evangelizing church. Weekend course provided for the Wilmington, DE Diocese’s, Catechetical and Family Life Weekend.

(2002 March). The catholic school as evangelizing community.  Workshop presented to Catholic School Administrators and Lead Teachers in the Diocese of Providence, RI.

(2001 October). Adult catechesis: toward an evangelizing church. Workshop provided for catechetical leaders sponsored by the Adult Formation Association of the Archdiocese of Detroit, MI.

(2001 March). Resources for adult catechesis: a look to church documents. One-day workshop provided for catechetical leadership of the Diocese of Albany, NY.

(2001 March). Catechesis in a post-modern context. Day-long workshop provided for catechetical leaders of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.  Co-facilitated with Dr. Harold Horell.

(2000 December). Framework for a renewed vision: “Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us.”  Two regional workshops offered for catechetical leaders held in the Dioceses of Kansas City, MO and Omaha, NE.

(2000 November).Toward an adult church: the general directory for catechesis. Keynote address provided for the Diocesan Catechetical Day of Columbus, OH.

(2000 August). Archdiocesan Staff In-Service on Adult Education. Facilitated two day in-service event for the full Chancery staff of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, OH.

(2000 March). Leadership in time of change. Keynote Address and Facilitator for two-day in-service for catechetical leaders of the Dioceses of New Jersey.

(2000 January). Adult catechesis and the general directory for catechesis. Keynote offered for the bi-annual gathering of the diocesan catechetical leaders of Texas.

(2000 April). Adult faith development. Presentation given to the Catholic school principals for the Archdiocese of Boston as part of the National Consortium for Catholic School Identity.

(2000 March).  New vision of catechesis: the general directory for catechesis.  Plenary address provided at the General Session of the East Coast Conference, Washington DC.

Reviews of Books by Others:

Prevost, R. (2004). Review of the book Toward an adult church: a vision of faith formation by Jane E. Regan. Religious Education, 99(3), 338-340.

Walters, T. P., & Walters, T. P. (2002). Review of the book Toward an adult church: a vision of faith formation by Jane E. Regan. Living Light, 39(2), 89-91.

Warren, M. (1995). Review of the book Exploring the Catechism by Jane E. Regan et al. Worship, 69(6), 568-569.

Excerpts from Publications

Regan, Jane E. (1998). Catechesis for the next millennium: focus on adults.  Listening, 33(1), 7-21.

What will the typical local parish and the typical religious education program look like in the early decades of the next century? …

As we think about this future with a particular focus on religious education, we would do well to take into account and address the repeated call heard in ecclesial documents of the past thirty years and echoed by a wide variety of catechetical theorists and practitioners: the ongoing formation and education of the adult community must gain central focus within the catechetical enterprise. Without diminishing the importance of the formation of children and youth, I am convinced that the vision and vitality of parish life and of the church’s capacity to fulfill its mission in the world is rooted in a radical shift in the focus of attention and resources and with that a fundamental shift in the presumed prime question and directive which shapes catechetics.

My conviction and passion about the necessity of this shift comes from the experience of working with and being formed by a parish that made and continues to live out of the shift in focus from children to adults. …the parish has made what is in effect a paradigm shift not just in the way in which catechesis is organized but in the very way in which the parish understands and expresses its mission. Recognizing the transformation, often subtle but substantive, that has taken place in the members and in the vision of the parish has clarified for me the necessity of reexamining what we consider to be the prime questions and directive of parish catechesis  (7-8).

Understood at its most inclusive, the reality of religious education is set within a wide and multi-faceted landscape. In this essay, the intention is simply to highlight those elements of the landscape which may be seen from a new perspective, may have moved forward from the background, as we shift our view and focus our attention on adults. With the focus on adults, the catechetical enterprise is rooted in the community, engaged with tradition, and energized by liturgy. At its heart it is concerned with transformation and directed toward service and justice (10).

Regan, Jane E. (2000). When is catechesis with adults genuinely adult? The Living Light, 37(1), 15-25.

At its most integral, adult catechesis provides all participants with the means and perspective that allow them to live out their baptismal lives in engagement in the mission of evangelization.

It is in claiming the call to evangelization that the necessity for genuine adult catechesis becomes most evident. As we take seriously the corporate and individual call to be an evangelizing people, the importance of the ongoing faith formation of the adult community takes on urgency. …

When is the catechesis of adults genuinely adult catechesis? When it challenges, prepares, and motivates the adult community of faith to give expression to the relationship to Jesus Christ in an active engagement in the Church’s mission of evangelization. It is a formidable task, no doubt, but one worthy of our best efforts and our best resources, for nothing less than the fulfillment of the Church’s identity and the effective proclamation of the liberating work of God in Jesus Christ is at stake (24).

Regan, Jane E. & Horan, Michael (1998). Good news in new forms: a companion to the General Directory for Catechesis.   Washington DC: National Conference of Catechetical Leaders.

Reading Ecclesial Texts. For those interested and involved in ministry and in the life of the Church, engaging with ecclesial documents is a complex activity. In many ways we bring to that document our understanding of Church, our notion of authority, our senses of the relationship between the local and the universal Church. Our reaction to the very fact of the publication of a Church document…shapes the way in which we read and understand and apply the content of the text. For some, a Church document on a given subject closes the discussion: Here is the final and definitive statement. For others, Church documents, and particularly those from Roman curial offices, are viewed with suspicion: Here is another attempt to suppress the free movement of the Spirit in the life of the Church. The most helpful and appropriate response is somewhere in the middle and centers on the question of the formative dialogue between the text of the document and the reality of pastoral praxis. For this dialogue to be possible, the text has to be read on its own ground, has to be read with an openness to the perspective being set out in the document itself (1-2).

Regan, Jane E. (2002). The aim of catechesis: educating for an adult church. In Harold Horrel and Thomas Groome (Eds.), Horizons and hopes of religious education, Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

[W]hat I think these times are about in the catechetical enterprise [is] [w]e have a structure, created and carefully shaped over the last fifty to sixty years. Like a communal sculptor, we each have added and enhanced the edifice…. We have learned much in the process. And, while there is much good to be said about the present structure, we recognize elements of the creation that have grown out of proportion to the overall sculpture. There are sections we have returned to regularly, and yet they have not evolved in the way we had hoped. And there are still other elements that seem to be all but totally disconnected from the larger creation.

So what do we do? Do we continue to tinker with the present sculpture—aware of its strengths and weaknesses-or do we light the fire for a new sculpture? I propose a reorienting of the catechetical enterprise to create a new sculpture. To light the fire for the new creation, I suggest we begin by exploring evangelization as the central task of the church (32).

Evangelization and Learning Community in Dialogue: Implications. 1. Adult faith formation with the parish as learning community is an integral part of parish life at all levels. 2. Structures are created within the parish that provide space for genuine conversation among adults. 3. The wisdom of all members of the parish community is consistently recognized and affirmed. 4. The overarching goal of adult faith formation is to foster a sense of mission rather than simply to enhance membership (46-48).

Regan, Jane E. (2003). Toward an evangelizing church. (monograph) Washington DC: National Catholic Educational Association.

Reform has to do with the structures and external expressions; renewal has to do with conversion. …the work of leadership is to bring reform and renewal together by entering into a three-step process: (1) name the new vision; (2) allow a lengthy period in order to give people the opportunity to explore the rationale for the change, provide opportunity for people to gain the skills and perspective necessary to implement the change, and establish the structures that make the change viable; (3) introduce the reform that gives expression to the renewal (146, following Bernie Swain).

[L]eadership begins by tapping into the most deeply held values of the group. Reminding ourselves of the core values—Gospel values—serves to inspire a reimagining of the future and the development of vision. This is the source from which a bold vision can emerge (151, following Donna Markham).

Regan, Jane E. (2003). Toward an evangelizing church. (Monograph) Washington DC: National Catholic Educational Association.

This is the core expression of Regan’s work in adult faith formation, integrating adult education theory, social science research and pastoral implications.  Chapters on adult faith formation, transformative learning and conversation are at the center of this work.

Regan, Jane E. & Horan, Michael (1998). Good news in new forms: a companion to the General Directory for Catechesis.   Washington DC: National Conference of Catechetical Leaders.

Recognizing the importance of the General Directory for Catechesis in defining the direction of contemporary catechetical work, Regan and Horan provide an overview, analysis and careful critique of this important document.  An overview of the history of the genre of directories is included.  This is a helpful commentary on the GDC for those interested in putting it into practice.

Regan, Jane E. (2002). The aim of catechesis: educating for an adult church. In Harold Horrel and Thomas Groome (Eds.), Horizons and hopes of religious education, Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

With an emphasis on evangelization, Regan outlines the fundamental importance of the very life of the community in fostering adult faith. Drawing on the concept of “learning organizations” Regan proposes that we examine parish life for the opportunities for adults to engage in sustained conversation about things that matter, which is an essential component for enhancing adult faith. 

Author Information

Wayne A. Cavalier, OP


Wayne A. Cavalier, OP, PhD (Boston College, 2005) is the Founding Director of the Congar Institute for Ministry Development, a ministry of the Southern Dominican Province, and the Director of the DMin Program at Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, TX. Jane E. Regan was his teacher and dissertation director and has become a colleague and a friend, and she contributed to this entry.