North American Forum on the Catechumenate is closing down

After 30 years of operation, the North American Forum on the Catechumenate will be dissolved as a not-for-profit organization on June 30, the Board of Directors has decided. This decision is made with the agreement of Jim Schellman, executive director of the Forum.

Forum has been struggling financially in recent years because of diocesan office consolidations, staff reductions, and budget cuts. Its 2013 budget projected 38 institutes, but only 17 institutes have been booked for 2013, and one institute has already been cancelled. This has meant a significant drop in income.

Webinars in May and June will take place as scheduled, as will the Pittsburgh and Knoxville institutes in June. It is hoped that conferences already scheduled will take place under diocesan leadership if this can be worked out with dioceses. All institutes scheduled after June 30 are cancelled, and all registration fees and deposits are being refunded.

Forum and its Team members have given shape, direction, and energy to our experience of Christian initiation in the United States and Canada. The expertise that Forum has provided and fostered since its founding continues to bear fruit through the writing and activities of its Team members, through the ministry of diocesan leaders who cosponsored and promoted Forum institutes, and through many thousands who have taken part in Forum’s learning opportunities over the years. Board members remain confident that Forum Team members, diocesan leaders, and others committed to the full implementation of the RCIA will find new and creative ways to continue the mission that commenced in Estes Park, Colorado, and Calgary, Alberta, 31 years ago.

The Board of Directors of the North American Forum on the Catechumenate is Steven R. Janco (Chair), Sandra Dooley (Treasurer), Michelle Miller (Secretary), Priscilla Lemire RJM, Rosanne Belpedio CSJ, Rita Thiron, and Catherine Ecker.


  1. Very sad news. Here in our far-flung corner of North America, I am grateful for the Forum workshops Fr.Jim Dunning and Christianne Brusselmans did in the Diocese of Juneau, Alaska in the early 1980’s that launched our implementation of the rite, as well as for the Forum’s work in the other dioceses of our state and throughout the country.

  2. Sad news indeed. Having made my trek into Catholicism, senza the RCIA, I was schooled in the RCIA by attendance at a Forum Workshop headed by none other than Fr. Jim Dunning. Marvelous man, much missed. I loved/love his vision for a renewed church.

  3. Yes this is a sad day. I too was inspired by both Jim Dunning and Karen Hinman Powell; the former for his grasp of the dynamic of conversion and the latter for her organizational and administrative gifts. In the years since, I have often felt that Jim would be alarmed by the tendency of many Roman Catholic initiation “programs” to act as though “RCIA” stands for “Roman Catholic Initiation of Adults.” No, Roman Catholics don’t have sole ownership of neither metanoia nor baptism. Hopefully this event will lead to more ecumenical considerations in the formation for Christian initiation.

  4. This is sad news indeed. The work of the FORUM has influenced all of my ministerial endeavors in so many ways. My participation as a team member for dozens and dozens of “Beginnings and Beyond” institutes truly shaped the lens of my pastoral work; the pedagogical model inspired what we do at “Music Ministry Alive!”, and the list of heroes/friends: Jim Dunning, Christianne Brusselmans, Maureen Kelly, Bob Duggan, Thom Morris, Jim Lopresti, Karen Hinman Powell, Kathy Brown, Ron Oakham, Paul Turner, Ray Kemp, Don Neumann, Jerry Ryle – all people that I met through my work with FORUM – have literally changed my life. The ritual music in the “Who Calls You By Name” collections – most found their beginnings in being composed during actual institutes, and served as the inspiration for all kinds of ritual music composition – not just for me, but for many others as well. Thanks to Vicky Tufano for bringing me into the work of FORUM back in 1985… it is my hope that the vision will continue in other groups and organizations.. the Catechumenate is so essential, and I have to admit, I worry for its future… God bless you Jim Schellman, Steve Janco and all of the members of the board, for your hard work and discernment in all of this.

  5. Thank God, someone recognized Jim Schellman, who has done all that he could for Forum with gentleness, grace, and determination over the past fifteen years. And before that he gave his all to the ICEL that was from 1976 to 1998. He can hold his head high for never compromising his integrity. And all the while, a devoted husband and father.

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