At over 800 pages long and two inches thick, the hardcover version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church might be one of the more intimidating tomes residing on a bookshelf. Many Catholics aren’t even aware such a book exists.
Real + True, a global catechetical effort, aims to change all that by making the Catechism accessible, portable and free to anyone and everyone. Through podcasts, videos and social media content, the creators of Real + True are hoping to snag the attention of two generations that have increasingly abandoned the Church: Millennials and Gen Z. In other words, people around 40 years old or younger.
Parishes, dioceses, apostolates, and ministries worldwide can incorporate the videos and content in their catechetical and evangelization programs and efforts.
As of its launch Sept. 7, Unit 1, covering the first 25 paragraphs of the Catechism, became available at realtrue.org and on YouTube. Unit 2 will be released Oct. 1 and Unit 3 will be available Nov. 1.
One thing we’re passionate about is helping people realize the Catechism is this beautiful resource that can help them encounter Christ.
Content will be available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French. Real + True plans to publish new content in monthly units, each covering a section of the Catechism, with 12 units for each of its four pillars of creed, prayer, sacraments and morality. The project gets underway one year before the 30th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 1992.
Edmund Mitchell, cofounder of Real + True, said his team believes the Catechism isn’t a textbook or set of rules.
“We believe the Catechism is the faithful echo of a God who wishes to reveal Himself to us and desires us to respond. We hope our content unlocks the beauty and wisdom of the Catechism for modern women and men — and most of all, helps people discover its pulsating heart: Jesus Christ.”
Emily Mentock, another Real + True cofounder, agreed. The Catechism, she said, is “something that’s meant to be prayed with, and something that’s a living voice that’s been handed down.”
“One thing we’re passionate about is helping people realize the Catechism is this beautiful resource that can help them encounter Christ.”
Funded by a grant from Catholic media giant Our Sunday Visitor, Menton said it will take the group about four years to complete the project.
Cande de Leon, executive director of the Office of Mission Advancement for the Diocese of Phoenix, has close ties with Edmundo Reyes, one of Real + True’s three cofounders. De Leon was enthusiastic about the effort to make the Catechism more approachable to young adults.
“Edmundo and his team have this vision of taking the Catechism and making it very real and practical to anybody who doesn’t know anything about the faith,” de Leon said.
“It takes this wonderful wisdom of the Church through the Catechism of the Catholic Church and it presents it in a very effective way through visuals on videos that aren’t too long.”
The fact that Real + True is completely digital in its approach is crucial, de Leon said.
“We live in a really fast-paced world and you don’t see Millennials and the Gen Z’s walking around with books. You see them carrying around cell phones and iPads and MacBooks and laptops, so if we want to reach them, we need to be able to speak their language and use their tools.”
What’s unique about Real + True, de Leon said, is that links to videos and podcasts can be shared via text messages.
“’So, you want to know about the purpose of man? Oh, let me text you this. Check this out real quick.’ And then boom, somebody can literally watch this in their bed, on the bus, on the train and while they’re passenger in a car or while they have a break at lunch. Anywhere. It’s right there in front of them.”
Mentock said the team at Real + True likes to use the term “evangelizing catechesis” to describe the content they are producing.
The world today is hungry for Jesus and for His message of truth, hope, and love.
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Chairman of the OSV board, lauded the work of Real + True.
“The world today is hungry for Jesus and for His message of truth, hope, and love. I am pleased to see projects such as Real + True emerge, bringing innovation and excellence to the way our faith is presented to the young women and men of our Church and the world.”
Bill Marcotte, who has been involved in youth and young adult ministry in the Diocese of Phoenix for 30 years, called the effort by Real + True “awesome” because it will help young people discover the truth of the Catholic faith. He recalled his own conversion experience during college when he belonged to a Protestant Bible study. His friends there challenged him about why he was still Catholic. “I couldn’t answer them and I didn’t know where to go to get the answers,” Marcotte said.
Before leaving the Church — which Marcotte intended to do — someone gave him a copy of a 1975 book by Fr. John Hardon entitled The Catholic Catechism.
“I read that cover to cover to cover and I closed it and said, ‘Man, if everyone understood what the Church taught, everyone would be Catholic.’ And I still believe that — it’s really the crux of why I’ve been doing ministry all these years.”
Real + True promises to “help a young person get answers to their questions about the whys of our Catholic Church, the treasures of our Catholic Church, and will help a young person build roots that will sustain them in their faith for a lifetime,” Marcotte said.
“And it’s not just for young people. It’s for everyone.”