The Corpus Christi Catechism Fund, a nonprofit, all-volunteer lay initiative, has been operating since September 2001, giving catechisms to the 8,000 teens confirmed in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis each year.
The volunteers attend every confirmation Mass and hand catechisms to the confirmands immediately afterward.
"This is a way the volunteers can live out their own confirmation vows in service to the Church," said Derik Mantel, who helps organize the catechism fund.
The fund was founded by a group of alumni from the University of St. Thomas' Catholic Studies program who gathered weekly to pray and talk about how they could respond to John Paul II's call for a new evangelization. The group decided to evangelize local young Catholics by giving them catechisms, to help them grow in knowledge and love of the Church.
"You cannot love what you do not know," said Stephen Maas, one of the founders of the group. "We believe the catechism is the first step in fostering a deeper love of the Church, especially in the youth -- a generation that is searching for answers."
The group, which has about 30 members, funds the project through the joint effort of private donors and the archdiocese. Auxiliary Bishop Richard Pates actively advises the project.
"The Corpus Christi Catechism Fund provides young people an invaluable resource as they develop their own faith and they develop their critical understanding of that faith in the years ahead," he said.
"We are very grateful to the young adults who have initiated this project," the bishop added. "It is an investment for decades and decades to come in terms of those who will benefit from the development of their faith and love of the Church."