Questions about our Religious Education program ?
For more information, please contact Elizabeth Chopra.
Message from the Pastor Concerning the Faith Formation of Children
There are a myriad of activities that take place in the daily life of the Parish, none of which ‘stop’ during the Summer months. As such, it has been a busy Summer for our Director of Religious Education (DRE), Elizabeth Chopra, and those of us responsible for and supporting the Religious Education Program for the Faith Formation of Children.
The primary focus of the Religious Education aspect of any Parish Faith Formation Program must be the formation in our Catholic Faith, of those Children and young adults preparing to receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation, First Holy Communion, and Confirmation, in accordance with the requirements of the Archdiocese and the universal Roman Catholic Church. With Jesus Christ as our Foundation, it is from those pillars that the Religious Education Program must emerge. This is first and foremost, and our resources, Catechists, and formational approaches are directed towards that goal.
Much time has been spent evaluating and developing a creatively different approach via a program offered by Our Sunday Visitor (OSV), “Encounter with Christ,” an approach and program of Religious instruction to ensure our conformity with the requirements of the Church.
You will find in this Bulletin the new Program schedule for the various components, and methods of registration. It represents the most flexibility we can provide, recognizing busy family schedules, and the schedules and realities of Parish staff, Facilities, and Catechists.
We have been blessed with those few Catechists and Assistants who have responded to our regular Calls for help throughout the past year, some of whom can continue for the new year and Program. However, the response to our Calls for additional help has been very disappointing. As such, the revised Program and schedule is reflective of that reality as well, and in keeping with the Church’s expectations of Parental responsibility and involvement in the Faith Formation of their Children. The multi-faceted approach will also help me as Pastor to ensure, as best possible, the required preparedness and knowledge of Children before they are determined eligible to receive the Sacraments of the Church.
The new Program includes a ‘3-prong approach’:
Classroom Instruction only for those preparing to receive the Sacraments of First Reconciliation and Holy Communion (Grade 2), and Confirmation (Grade 8), each with their own schedule of weekday evening Classes;
a Home Study/Instruction Program between Parents & Children for those in Grade 1 thru 7, with a very flexible ‘schedule’ throughout the Week at Home, and through online interaction and completion of assignments;
and an occasional gathering of Parents & Children in ‘Family Faith Formation Sessions’ of presentations or talks, which would take place on particularly scheduled Sunday afternoons.
All of this, and every other activity of the Parish, is based on the absolute requirement of participation at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. This remains an unchanged requirement for ALL of us Catholics, not just the Children registered in the Religious Education Program! The 10 Commandments have not been reduced to 9. The 3rd Commandment to ‘Keep Holy the Sabbath’ (our Sabbath being Sunday’s Mass) remains a serious Obligation of our Catholic Faith. Between the Saturday evening Vigil Mass, and the full schedule of Sunday Masses, there is ample enough opportunity for all of us to fulfill that Obligation. To frivolously miss Mass (that is, without reason of personal illness or caring for another who is seriously ill in the absence of someone else being able to do so, or other unforeseen truly grave reasons preventing one from giving the Lord an hour of your time and attention each Week in Worship, etc.) remains a Mortal Sin.
CLASS IS NOT MASS: Unfortunately, we have found that in many cases, this seems to have developed as a common practice and misunderstanding. We are not here to compete with soccer, softball, dance, music, basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, or any other extra-curricular activities. Although these are all healthy and admirable competitive social activities, the years particularly of preparation for the Sacraments must be a priority in your Family schedule. Just as you schedule the myriad of other things in your lives, having to make choices at times that you/your children can’t be available to do everything, you must search your heart and conscience, particularly in the years of preparation to receive the Sacraments, that other activities that conflict with Sacramental preparation have to be put aside for those months or that year of Religious Education, when your Children are preparing more proximately for First Communion and Confirmation. Our Catholic Faith has to mean more to us than ‘other choices.’
The Church has historically and consistently taught that Parents/Guardians are the first and primary teachers of their Children. In the Rite of Baptism for Children, the response given to the Parents who bring their babies to Church asking for them to receive the Sacrament, is this: “You have asked to have your child Baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training them in the practice of the Faith. It will be your duty to bring them up to keep God’s Commandments, as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?” And, later on in the Ritual, while calling upon God’s Blessing of the Parents, the following is said of the Parents: “…they will be the first teachers of their children in the ways of Faith. May they be also the best of teachers, bearing witness to the Faith by what they say and do…”.
The changes in our Religious Education Program for Children reflect all of the above realities. Please consider seriously the required commitments of the Program and register your Child/ren as soon as possible, in order that the appropriate amount of materials may be purchased and provided to you.
If you have any questions as we enter this new realm of Faith Formation, please be in contact with Elizabeth as the Parish DRE. We will attempt, as best possible, to assist you and your Child/ren in embracing and succeeding in Faith Formation. However, please understand that the commitment to “…training them in the practice of the Faith…” must be a priority from all perspectives.
We do yet need to expand our corps of Catechists and Assistants to carry out the ‘in-classroom’ instruction for First Reconciliation, Communion, and Confirmation students. Those of you who can help, are asked to contact Elizabeth through the Parish Office, or via email at: email@example.com. It would be a wonderful way of involvement in the Life of the Parish, and another way of caring for the Children in passing on to them the treasures of our Catholic Faith.
Kindly lend your prayers and support to Elizabeth and our team of parishioner Catechists and Assistants, as they proceed in this important responsibility. They have made a commitment to devote a portion of their time and talents for the sake of your Children. They are no less busy than anyone else, and it is not easy to take on such a responsibility. Anyone who thinks that it is, please step forward and offer your service to join those who are trying to make a positive difference in ensuring that the Teachings and Traditions of our Catholic Faith are faithfully passed on to another generation.
Prayerfully in Christ,