Late Nite Catechism

Back in 2010, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public life took a survey on the average American’s knowledge of major religions. Guess what? Atheists and agnostics outscored all others.  American Catholics scored below average, and almost half did not know that the bread and wine at communion were the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ.  Transubstantiation, a no brainer, right?  Well, maybe not, but what is obvious is we need to find better ways to transmit our Catholic faith in our schools and parishes. Though we may have to do it in a different way than we’re used to.

I recently came across the “Late Nite Catechism” series, a one-person, award-winning comedy originally written in 1993 by Vicki Quade and Maripat Donovan.  “Sister,” dressed in a habit with huge rosary beads dangling from her side, gets the audience to laugh at the funnies of faith. The quick-witted, sassy nun performs magic tricks, host game shows, and goes on rants, which tie in with the sacraments and other matters of faith.  (Along these lines, be sure to check out What’s so Funny about Faith and Between Heaven and Mirth by TJP’s two Martins, Jake and Jim.)

On the evangelization of martians, “Sister” said: “Oh ‘cause if there’s aliens out there, we are gonna baptize them as Catholics quick like that…”

Addressing the common bond Catholics and Jews share, “Sister” asked: “The Jews invented guilt, the Catholics perfected it, right?”

In her discussion on gambling and God’s role in chance in “Late Nite Catechism Las Vegas: Sister Rolls the Dice,” “Sister” draws on firsthand experience:  “When you go into a casino dressed in a habit, it’s very disruptive.”

Pope Benedict XVI, who resigns his pontificate today, said in 2008: “[A]rt and the Saints are the greatest apologetic for our faith.”  “Late Nite Catechism” is a creative use of the arts for faith formation that brings in the crowds. Is there a way to harness this type of medium to provide catechesis that sticks? Do present models of religious education in your schools and parishes work anymore?  Share your ideas about creative and effective ways to teach both children and adults to give reason for their hope (cf. 1 Peter 3:15).  Or maybe pray for more fun, sassy nuns?

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Cover photo by the Boston Public Library via Flickr.

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