It is with great joy and hopeful optimism that our lives have begun to resume their normal rhythm and routines again. Cardinal O’Malley has lifted the Sunday Mass dispensation beginning on June 19th and all those who are able to do so safely are welcome to join together for the Eucharistic Celebration once more! You may have been wondering what the return to Mass and in person learning means for our religious education program here at St. Catherine’s. As with every part of our lives, the past year has provided us with an opportunity to examine our programs and the way in which those programs are provided to families. In fact, if there is anything this past year has taught us it is just how important our families are. Maybe you were already aware that Pope Francis has designated 2021 as the Year of St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, whose life of faith and strong familial and paternal devotion is one we can all look to for inspiration. You might even know that from March of 2021 to March of 2022, the Pope has called for the observance of the Year of the Family. It should come as no surprise that these two periods of celebration and reflection should overlap. In many of the emails and a great deal of the feedback I received this year, so many of you commented on how much you appreciated the opportunity to partner with your child as they learned about our faith. Many of you noted how much your own knowledge had grown as a result. Even more of you expressed joy at having a chance to talk about different topics and issues with your child that may not have happened in a “normal” year.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, ““Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child’s earliest years…Family catechesis precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith. Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God.”(CCC 2226) Knowing that the Church teaches that parents are meant to be the primary educators of their children in the faith, based on the feedback we received this past year, and conscious of the many demands on families’ time, we are re-imagining the religious education program. The following is a detailed breakdown of what religious education will look for each grade level.
The expectation is that all families regardless of your child’s age will attend Sunday Mass. There is no better way to learn about our faith than through weekly participation in the liturgy and Eucharist which we know is the source and summit of our faith. Families will be provided with a small booklet which will ask for some basic information to be filled in (ex: what color was the priest wearing at Mass) as well as provide some questions for discussion among families. Pages from the booklet will be collected periodically and entered into a drawing to win some cool prizes!
Grades 1 and 2 will meet in person with a catechist twice a month (generally the first and second Sunday or Tuesday of a month). Participation in grade 1 is necessary for a student to make their 1st Penance/1st Communion as a second grader. Families will be asked to reinforce the concepts and materials students are learning in class at home. We will need catechists for our first and second grade students so if you would like to teach or co-teach a class, please contact me at email@example.com. All supplies are provided for you.
Grades 3-8 will participate in our new “Family Catechesis” program. Students in these grades will attend a large group session WITH a parent/grownup on the first Sunday of the month. These sessions will cover different topics and teachings so that families are able to continue the lessons at home with their children. Student text books and family pages will be provided. Students will be asked to complete and submit (via email) chapter review sessions. In essence, this is a hybrid model with one in person session a month, followed up by learning at home. We are working to make these large group sessions available online and via recording in the event that a Sunday morning class does not fit your family’s schedule.
We will also be offering multiple family events for children and their grownups to participate in throughout the year! These programs will include an All Saints Day party at the end of October, our Epiphany pageant in early January, Family Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, and other events as well!
While we will not need catechists for grades 3-8, we will need volunteers to assist at the large group sessions on Sunday mornings AND to help at the various family events and activities throughout the year.
Please know that all of this is a work in progress and while we intend to hold in person programming this year, plans may need to be changed or modified should anything happen in the late summer or fall in terms of COVID and/or guidelines from the Archdiocese, Norwood Department of Public Health, etc. While we know this program is very different from years past, we also know that many parishes are beginning to move towards a family centered model of religious education in order to help create opportunities for families to talk about, reflect upon, and celebrate our beautiful Catholic faith. We hope you will join us as we begin this new, exciting, faith filled adventure here at St. Catherine’s!
Leah C. Ramsdell
Director of Religious Education and Youth Faith Formation
Please click here for the required form to register for classes for the 2021-2022 school year for grades 1-8. (Forms have been mailed home to students in our program.)
Our religious education program, in partnership with parents who are the first teachers of their child, shapes the essential ministry for instructing our children in the fundamentals of faith, revealed truths about God and the covenant God desires with the human family, doctrine, tradition, prayer and scripture. We endeavor to bring each child to a recognition of who Jesus is and to nurture this relationship with him. We are confident of the capability each child has, within their age level, of an understanding of the love and mercy God has for us. Our focus remains to foster a connection between faith and everyday life experience, through activities, involvement in service projects, spirituality, loving and unloving choices and personal safety.