Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Ministry (DMin)


Brent Kelly


disciple, Roman Catholic, Catholic, discipleship standing, Vatican II


Christianity | Religion


This action research project aimed to develop an adult religious education program allowing senior citizen parishioners to mature in their faith and discipleship. The project’s population (60+ years old) were members of a small Catholic parish in South Carolina. The age group was designed to embrace pre-Vatican II Catholics. It was hypothesized that their understanding of discipleship would differ from post-Vatican II Catholics. The incentive for the project was the researcher’s concern that seniors may have grown complacent in their faith. The program used mixed research methods. An initial assessment of the population’s “discipleship standing” was necessary and obtained by analyzing surveys and interviews as a group. This assessment demonstrated a weakness in a biblical understanding of discipleship and post-Vatican II focus. A program was created that was responsive to these weaknesses. After the program was implemented, subsequent surveys and interviews were used to collect data for comparison with the pre-program data. The program successfully enlightened the participants and provided them with a spiritual hunger for more ecclesiastical knowledge. The data also revealed that the Catholic seniors were knowledgeable about Bible content but could not attribute a “chapter and verse” to content. Given the scarcity of reported scholarly studies of Catholic senior citizen discipleship encouragement programs involving small parishes, this thesis is deemed essential to initiate a conversation about the need and method to develop spiritual maturity for seniors despite a parish having a small budget. It is contended that the Catholic church must respond to this call.

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