Route 18 South ♦ Old Bridge, NJ ♦ 732-251-1660
Msgr. Richard A. Behl, Pastor
St. Thomas Information
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Mission and Purpose
Elementary Course of Study
Special Programs
Family Liturgies

Elementary Course of Study

The focus of our program is Gospel based . The children learn and experience our faith by hearing and “ breaking open ” the Word of God from the approaching Sunday Liturgy. We explain scripture to the children on their own level of development and experience, so that they may participate more fully (along with their families) in our Sunday Liturgies - the centerpiece of our lived faith. Each year, your child will receive  a workbook "What the Church Believes and Teaches".   This workbook helps the teacher and parents review and reinforce the basic teachings that need to be mastered before a child moves on to the next level.

LEVEL 1   (Usually Grade 1) 
Each week the children will receive “Promise”, a program which provides activities and stories that help children learn about God the way they learn about the world around them - through simple, sense-involving activities and reflections of their own experiences. Each week presents a theme based on the upcoming Sunday Readings, and has parent suggestions for reinforcing learning at home. If your family has not been attending Mass on a regular basis, please make every effort to attend Sunday Liturgy, as your child will be studying the Mass and beginning preparation for First Penance and First Eucharist.

LEVEL 2   (Usually Grade 2)
In Level 2, the emphasis shifts to a study of the sacraments as the children review Baptism and prepare for the reception of Reconciliation and Eucharist. Your family's attendance at weekend Mass is of utmost importance to your child's readiness to receive these sacraments.

First Penance Program - September to December

To initiate children into the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we use the program Reconciliation - We Are Your People, The Sheep Of Your Flock” published by RCL. This book is rooted in a comprehensive sacramental theology that includes ritual, prayer, scripture, Catholic doctrine and reflection, which is designed to help children understand and participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance). It also gives the child an opportunity for moral education and conscience formation.

The program includes:

  • Class instruction
  • Home Sessions - through review and additional activities, children and parents together can enter more fully into the penitential life of the Church.
  • Day of Prayer - scheduled for the children during class time, with special activities in preparation for their First Penance. Check class calendar for date.
  • Whole Family Catechesis -  this session will offer parents and their child an opportunity to reflect in some depth upon the meaning of the Sacrament of Reconciliation so they can prepare their children for the sacrament. Check class calendar for date.

First Communion Program - January to May

To initiate children into the Eucharist, we will use the program Eucharist - Do This in Memory of Me”.  This program offers the same approach as “Reconciliation” - Class Instruction, Home Sessions, Day of Prayer, Celebrations and Family Sessions. Through their life experience (as presented in this program), the child gradually and progressively is initiated into the life of the Eucharist, culminated by their First Communion.

LEVEL 3   (Usually Grade 3)
“Good News” uses stories based on the theme of the Sunday Gospel to help children remember and express their own experiences. “Good News” asks children to look for the connection between their own lives and the upcoming Sunday Gospel, using prayer, song and art activities.

LEVELS 4 & 5   (Usually Grades 4 & 5) 
“Venture” helps children to explore their everyday life in light of the values proclaimed in the Sunday Gospels. “Venture” introduces Old and New Testament facts and people, and explores Jesus' land and times. An important part of this program includes learning about the Sacraments, Commandments and Beatitudes, the Mass and Christian Doctrine.

Please Note: The Gospel readings repeat every three years, so that the curriculum will differ in Levels 4 and 5 from year to year. Gospel Weeklies are published by Pflaum.

LEVEL 6   (Usually Grade 6) 
"Called to be Catholic" 
is Part One of the Confirmation Preparation Program that covers the pillars of our Catholic faith.  It sparks a desire to deepen the students' relationship with God and helps them understand what belonging to the Catholc Church really means.

LEVEL 7  (Usually Grade 7)
"Confirmed in the Spirit"
is Part Two of the Confirmation Preparation Program that focuses on the Holy Spirit and prepares young people to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation.  It invites young people to witness Jesus through the lives of faith and loving service.

LEVEL 8    (Usually Grade 8)
Confirmation preparation includes:
Community Service, regular Mass attendance, a saint project, monthly gatherings, retreats and rehearsal.  The Sacrament of Confirmation is conferred on those students upon the completion of this course.  

Our parish preparatory program for the Sacrament of Confirmation is based upon the teaching of the U.S. National Directory for Catechesis, which reads that parishes should present catechesis for Confirmation that:

  • Teaches that Confirmation increases and deepens the grace of Baptism, imprinting an indelible character on the soul.
  • Teaches that Confirmation strengthens the baptismal conferral of the Holy Spirit on those confirmed in order to incorporate them more firmly in Christ, strengthen their bond with the Church, associate them more closely with the Church’s mission, increase in them the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and help them bear witness to the Christian faith in words and deeds.
  • Teaches about the role of the Holy Spirit, his gifts, and his fruits.
  • Is developmentally appropriate and includes retreat experiences.
  • Includes instruction on the Rite of Confirmation and its basic symbols: the imposition of hands, the anointing with Sacred Chrism, and the words of the sacramental formula.
  • Ensures that parents and sponsors are involved in the catechetical preparation of the children for Confirmation. (Article 36)

The newly confirmed will be invited to join Youth Ministry, a group of high school students who meet on Thursday evenings to socialize, pray and work to serve the community.

One St. Thomas Plaza
Old Bridge, NJ 08857

732-251-4000 Parish Office
732-251-4946 Parish Fax

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