British School Launches New Edition of Catechism

English Center and Society Team Up to Spread Catechesis


CATHOLIC ABBEY. The exterior of the abbey church at Buckfast Abbey in Devon.


The Catholic Truth Society (CTS) is based in noisy Vauxhall, in South London, where the traffic roars around a major railway junction with the over-ground trains swooping across the bridge and the Tube roaring underground.

It is a dramatic contrast to the peaceful, lush, green beauty of Buckfast Abbey in Devon, where the School of the Annunciation is based.

The School of the Annunciation is Britain’s newest catechetical and evangelistic center, and it teamed up with CTS recently to launch a new edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. CTS Director Fergal Martin and the new edition’s editor, Piero Finaldi, traveled to Devon for the launch, meeting the school’s director of studies, Caroline Farey, and the rector, Father Guy de Gaynesford.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church was published in the early 1990s and has been a best-seller ever since. This new British edition includes a fresh layout, the versions of the order of the Mass and the Creed found in the most recent translation of the Roman Missal, and has completely accurate up-to-date references and footnotes. The work marks another triumph for CTS, which has also produced acclaimed new editions of the Missal and Rite of Marriage, in addition to a wide and growing range of booklets, pamphlets, educational materials, DVDs and devotional books.

The Catholic Truth Society was founded in the 19th century, with the aim of making basic Catholic teachings and prayers accessible to wide numbers of people. Its Simple Prayer Book has been in continuous publication ever since, and its booklets and devotional materials are found in every Catholic parish and school.

“Part of our birthright as being human is to hear the truth of what the Lord God wishes to tell us,” said Father de Gaynesford at the launch celebration at the beginning of April.

“The Catechism — a gift to us from our bishops in the Church — is indispensable. What the CTS has given to us over recent years is stupendous: To have a new publication of the Catechism is of enormous significance, and it lies at the heart of all our work here. To have this knowledge of God is a human right. As St. John Paul said, the Catechism is a sure reference point. If you want to know what the Lord has revealed to us, here it is, in a language you can understand.”

“There is now, in the English-speaking world, one version of the Catechism that is the entire, up-to-date, fully indexed version,” said Martin, the general secretary of the Catholic Truth Society, to warm applause. Martin, a former lawyer, has been the general secretary for 20 years and has overseen wide expansion and development of the society’s work and pioneered a number of new initiatives.

At a special Mass in the abbey church, Martin presented a copy to Bishop Mark O’Toole of Plymouth, the chairman of the department of Mission and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, who took it and kissed it; and to the abbot, Rt. Rev. David Charlsworth, chairman of the trustees of the School of the Annunciation.

The school is a new initiative, and the publication of the Catechism was part of its second-anniversary celebrations. The school welcomes students from across Britain for courses on catechesis and evangelization. It has a full summer program, including a special gathering for young people ages 18-35 on the theme “What Must I Do to Inherit Eternal Life?”

Based at the abbey — a landmark in the west of England, with its famous church, rebuilt in the 20th century, after destruction under Henry VIII in the 16th century — the school is a testament to the enduring mark of Catholicism and evangelization in Britain.

Joanna Bogle

writes from London.