Adult Christian education needs to have a high priority on the agenda of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, according to a three-day conference held at Ushaw College in Durham last weekend. Nearly 100 participants, including bishops and representatives from some of the Catholic Church's major agencies, had gathered for Expectations of Adult Formation - a Conversation, at the invitation of the Committee for Catechesis and Adult Christian Formation of the Bishops' Conference. The series of meetings considered the diversity of adult education programmes and practice in England and Wales, and contemplated how it might be developed further. In attempting to define Adult Christian Formation, many different areas of education were addressed, including catechesis, faith and justice, communication, and access to formation opportunities. A particularly powerful presentation was given by Fr Peter McDonough and Eileen Hosie from the Catholic Deaf Association, who addressed what it meant to be "whole people", and concluded by encouraging hearers to learn how to converse with people with hearing difficulties through sign language. In addition to delegates from 21 dioceses, there were ten international guests: from Europe, Asia and North America, as well as representatives from the Catholic Education Service, Catholic Youth Service, and the Justice and Peace Network. Bishop Malcolm McMahon of Nottingham, Chairman of the Committee for Catechesis and Adult Formation, said: "The purpose of this Conversation has been to give people time and space to reflect on the diversity of their work and to dialogue with each other. We've been able to share and compare successes and frustrations, challenges and difficulties encountered in working in adult formation, and I have been struck by the sheer dedication and commitment of so many people to the wide range of activities that constitute Adult Christian Formation." Expectations of Adult Formation - a Conversation, took place at Ushaw College in Durham from Friday, 9 May to Sunday, 11 May 2003.
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