Christian Initiation

Photo of James LeachmanIL: L713; PIL:95020
KULeuven: B-KUL-A05F1A, 4 study points

Taught by:
James Leachman and (pending) Enda Murphy



At the end of the course each participant will be prepared to:

i. Describe the origin of christian initiation in New Testament and Jewish prayer
ii. Present the development of the structure of christian initiation in the first ten centuries.
iii. Trace the developments in the Middle Ages and Catholic Reformation up to 1962.
iv. Detail renewal of christian initiation as mandated by the Second Vatican Council
Enda Murphyv. Understand the contemporary rites of initiation of the Roman Rite.


Students enrolling for credit at KU Leuven:

This course is taught at Ealing Abbey, London from 18-29 July to 2016 for academic year 2016-2017. It is completed before enrolment at KU Leuven at the end of August. To enquire please write to:  il AT liturgyinstitute DOT org. After successfully completing this course at Ealing, you may thereafter enrol for this course at KU Leuven to receive KU Leuven study points / ECTS credits.


Dates: 18-29 July 2016 (free days Saturday 23, Sunday 24): Block 2

Hours: 09.30-12.30 (including one 24 minute break)
The course anticipates the student will spend 60 hours in personal reading and study.


Location: Institutum Liturgicum London (at Ealing Abbey)
74 Castlebar Road Ealing London, W5 2DD, UK
Telephone: +44 (0)20 8862 2156 Fax: +44 (0)20 8862 2133
For further details or to register contact the Centre at:
E-mail:  il AT liturgyinstitute DOT org


Previous knowledge

Beyond a general familiarity with the Bible and the history of western civilization in the Christian period, a general familiarity with the the history and context of the liturgy in the West would be helpful. An understanding of the texts in their original language or an approved liturgical translation is essential. Suggested but not required are the L701 Liturgy Research Seminar and L702 Liturgy in the West, History and Context.



This course examines:
i. The origin of christian initiation in New Testament and Jewish prayer
ii. The development of the structure of Christian initiation in the first ten centuries.
iii. The developments in the Middle Ages and Catholic Reformation up to 1962.
iv. The renewal of christian initiation as mandated by the Second Vatican Council
v. The contemporary rites of initiation of the Roman Rite



Course Material

♦  NOCENT, A., “Christian Initiation During the First Four Centuries”, and “Christian Initiation in the Roman Church from the Fifth Century Until Vatican II”, in Sacraments and Sacramentals, ed. A.J. Chupungco (Handbook for Liturgical Studies 4), The Liturgical Press (A Pueblo Book), Collegeville MN 2000, 5-48, 49-90 (read with attention to footnotes).
♦  JOHNSON, M.E., The Rites of Christian InitiationTheir Evolution and Interpretation, Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN 1999, rev. ed. 2007.
♦  KAVANAGH, A., The Shape of BaptismThe Rite of Christian Initiation, Pueblo, New York 1978; Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN 1991.
♦ MCDONNELL, K., The Baptism of Jesus in the JordanThe Trinitarian and Cosmic Order of Salvation, Liturgical Press, Collegeville 1996.
♦ TURNER, P., The Hallelujah Highway: A History of the Catechumenate, Liturgy Training Publications, Chicago IL 2000.


Course activities

♦ In class reading and understanding of original texts of Christian initiation;
♦ in class presentation of developments in the theology and practice of Christian initiation;
♦ in class discussion of assigned reading and reflections and notes taken;
♦ private reading, reflection and writing.


Evaluation description

Examination type: oral (100%); with written preparation.

When?: the oral exam is conducted at the end of the final session; written preparation comprises notes handed in at the beginning of the oral exam and kept on file for one year.

Explanation: Students choose one period of the history of Christian initiation for more detailed study and prepare the rest of the history of Christian initiation in its cultural context for a more synthetic and reflective response. The full mark is based on the student’s oral presentation of their study to the instructor and their discussion. Students may bring their prepared written notes to this final discussion. The function of written preparation is to help the student prepare a satisfactory answer and to support the student in his or her oral presentation and discussion. Copies of the liturgical books discussed during the course will be provided for students during the exam.

Criteria for evaluation: There are two questions in the oral exam. The first question asks for a descriptive-analytical response concerning the characteristics of one of the periods of the history of Christian initiation examined, selected by the student. The second question asks for a synthetic-applied response covering the major issues concerning liturgical renewal since the Second Vatican Council. Discussion seeks to help the student provide a more clear and comprehensive response.

Second opportunity to sit the exam: Because this is an intensive summer course, the opportunity for a second exam is by appointment and depends upon the availability of the instructor.


Notes: Students must be over 18 years of age.

This course has been designed to be taken alone or in conjunction with L705 Theology of the Liturgy or with L713 Early Christian Writers on LiturgyThis course is offered in the same summer as L719 Seminar on Christian Initiation. Students may wish to take both courses for a fuller and intensive study of Christian initiation.

Students wishing to pursue our programme of studies are encouraged to begin with the two courses L701 Liturgical Research Seminar and L702 Liturgy in the WestHistory and Context before progressing to other courses.

If students enrol in two concurrent courses, they may wish to prepare for the intensive schedule by reading suggested texts before the course begins.

The instructor will arrange with the students to be available regularly for some time in the Study Centre and is also available by appointment.

Dates: 2016 Block II

18-22 July (Monday to Friday; Saturday 23, Sunday 24 are free days)
25-29 July (Monday to Friday)



Non-residential day students are welcome.

Limited accommodation is available through Ealing Abbey house for guests or other religious houses or nearby.

Residential students may arrange to arrive on Saturday 16 or Sunday 17 July or before the lecture begins at 09.30 on Monday 18 July 2016.

Residential students may arrange to depart depart after the lecture ends at 12.30 on Friday 29  or on Saturday 30 July 2016.


Additional information from KU Leuven course web-site

 Academic year: 2016−2017

 Study points: 4

 Language: English

 Difficulty: Master’s level-Intermediate

 Duration: 26.0 hours

 Periodicity: Taught every other year, beginning with the summer session 2014

 POC: POC Theology and Religious Studies


This course is included in

Research Master of Advanced Studies in Theology and Religion (120 ECTS)

Master of Theology and Religious Studies Study Abroad Programme in European Culture and Society (PECS)

A link to the course descriptor at KU Leuven will be provided here once it is available.