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 9 and 10 will participate in a one day intensive class of their choosing. Students must attend the ENTIRE session from start to finish in order for it to be considered full participation. There will be NO exceptions. There are weekend and weekday options available and we hope to be able to offer additional sessions during the summer of 2022. For now, please visit https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090948ADA92CA1FE3-confirmation to register for a session. Each session must have a minimum of 15 participants in order to take place. Students in grade 10 who will be confirmed in late January/early February will be given priority for the sessions in August-January. Students in grade 10 MUST have completed an intensive class prior to Confirmation. 9th grade students will be asked to return for a retreat in the early fall of 2022 with Confirmation to take place in the late fall of their 10th grade year. Students in BOTH grades 9 and 10 will be asked to work on and complete some additional at home assignments AND to complete community service.
Grade 10 in the fall of 2021
*Attend ONE intensive class prior to Confirmation in late January/early February 2022
Grade 9 in the fall of 2021
*Attend ONE intensive class offered during the 2021-2022 school year (with possible summer sessions to be offered in 2022).
*Attend a fall retreat in September/October 2022 (Date TBD)
*Confirmation in late fall 2022 (Date TBD)
All ninth grade students, regardless of whether they attend public school or Catholic school will need to attend ONE intensive session prior to the retreat next fall. Failure to attend an intensive session before the fall retreat will mean that a student needs to hold off on Confirmation until the fall of his/her junior year if they wish to be confirmed at St. Catherine’s.
Please note that this is a change from prior years where Catholic school students only needed to attend as 10th graders. Now, with Confirmation happening in the fall of 10th grade, all ninth graders need to complete the intensive class during their freshman year regardless of what school they attend.
Finally, in order to enroll in our Confirmation program for students in grades 9 and 10 you MUST meet ONE of the following criteria; been previously enrolled in the St. Catherine’s Religious Education program, be a registered member of St. Catherine of Siena Parish (meaning your family must be listed in our parish database), OR your student needs to have attended St. Catherine of Siena Middle School.
While we will not need catechists who meet with students regularly for 8-9 sessions over the course of the year, we will need adults who are willing to help facilitate the intensive sessions as small group leaders. If you are interested in assisting at one of the intensive classes, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You DO NOT need to volunteer for every session.
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 2021-2022 registration form for grades 9 and 10. (Registration forms have been mailed home to students in our program.)