Route 18 South ♦ Old Bridge, NJ ♦ 732-251-1660
Msgr. Richard A. Behl, Pastor
|Elementary Course of Study|
Children “learn” religion through experience; particularly by watching and imitating those they love best. Faith is something that is “caught” rather than “taught”. Classroom learning informs, gives data, and reinforces what the children should be experiencing.
There will be times during the year when your child's catechist will assign supplemental work that will need your supervision. In addition, parents of children in all grade levels are asked to teach their children the prayers assigned to each level. Please see our website for grade level prayers. At the discretion of the catechist and PCL, a student may not be allowed to continue to the next level if he/she has not completed assigned work and memorized prayers.
FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION
As mandated by our Bishop, our program includes Family Life Education. Our text is published by RCL Benziger. The material of the Family Life program is organized according to these five themes:
1. God’s Gift of Family: The core of the program is Christian family living. It is our goal to help young people respect the family and its mission of teaching and transmitting values.
2. God’s Gift of Self: It is our goal to guide young people in their spiritual, moral, physical, mental and emotional growth. An appreciation for God’s gift of self and for one’s strengths and weaknesses are fundamental to achieve this.
3. God’s Gift of Life: An essential aspect of growth and maturity is learning to respect and honor all people. It is our goal to give young people an appreciation of the sacredness of life.
4. God’s Gift of Love: Young people need to develop a gradual and wholesome understanding of the gift of human sexuality as part of their calling to live a chaste life.
5. God’s Gift of Community: Young people will learn the skills needed for healthy relationships and responsible living, and those needed to follow the Gospel in all aspects of society.
The Parent Connection pamphlet accompanies your child’s text for additional home study and discussion and offers you help for understanding Catholic teaching related to the five themes with practical tips for improving parent-child communication.
Levels 1, 3 & 4
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 child will receive a workbook entitled “What the Church Believes and Teaches.” This workbook helps the catechist and parents review and reinforce the basic teachings that need to be mastered before the child moves on to the next level.
Level 1 (Usually Grade 1)
PRAYERS: Sign of the Cross Our Father Hail Mary ~ Glory Be
Each week the children will receive “Promise” published by Pflaum 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 starting to prepare for First Penance and First Eucharist.
Level 2 (Usually Grade 2)
PRAYERS: Sign of the Cross Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be Act of Contrition ~ Mass Responses
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
Parents must attend a First Penance Meeting in November (date to be announced)
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.
First Communion Program - January to May
Parents must attend a First Communion Meeting in January (date to be announced)
To initiate children into the Eucharist, we use the program “Eucharist - Do This in Memory of Me” published by RCL. 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 (U sually Grade 3)
PRAYERS: Grace Before/After Meals Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be Sign of the Cross
“Good News” published by Pflaum uses stories based on the theme of the Sunday Gospel to help children remember and express their own experiences. “Good News” asks the children to look for the connection between their own lives and the upcoming Sunday Gospel, using prayer, song and activities.
Children in Level 3 will receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation during class time in the fall. Please check the calendar for date.
Level 4 (Usually Grade 4)
PRAYERS: Apostles’ Creed ~ Act of Contrition
“Venture” published by Pflaum 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.
Children in Level 4 will receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation during class time in the fall. Please check the calendar for date.
Level 5 (Usually Grade 5)
PRAYERS: Rosary/Mysteries Apostles’ Creed Act of Contrition
The theme of “Finding God” published by Loyola Press integrates the fundamental themes of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” with Scripture and Catholic Social Teaching. The program is grounded in Scripture, Church Tradition and prayer to inspire and guide a child’s faith formation.
Children in Level 5 will receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation during class time in the fall. Please check the calendar for date.
ACRE TESTING is administered to Level 5 students towards the end of the PREP year. This assessment is used to evaluate the faith knowledge and attitudes of our Level 5 PREP students.
CONFIRMATION PREPARATION Levels 6, 7 & 8
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, to 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 to 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)
Level 6 (Usually Grade 6)
PRAYERS: Prayer of St. Francis ~ Stations of the Cross
The theme of “Called to be Catholic” published by Loyola Press is centered on deepening faith in Christ while developing a clear understanding of what it means to be a member of the Catholic Church. Young people become prepared and ready to respond as Christ’s disciples to the world. Children in Level 6 will receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation during class time in Lent. Please check the calendar for date.
Level 7 (Usually Grade 7)
PRAYERS: Mass Prayers/Responses ~ Review of all prayers
The theme of “ Confirmed in the Spirit” published by Loyola Press is renewal in the Spirit. The goal is a deepening of the faith life within the young people through an awareness of the special strength they receive in Confirmation to live the Christian life and to witness to Christ. Our call is to bring people to the person of Jesus Christ, who lives and who is with us and loves us. Confirmation preparation is an experience of journeying together, sharing faith in Jesus Christ, and in growing in it.
Children in Level 7 will receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation during class time in Lent. Please check the calendar for date.
ACRE TESTING is administered to Level 7 students at the end of the PREP year. This assessment is used to evaluate the faith knowledge and attitudes of our PREP students.
Level 8 (Usually Grade 8)
PRAYERS: Review of all prayers
The students do not attend weekly PREP classes. The preparation for Confirmation includes: Community Service, regular Mass attendance, saint report, mandatory monthly Confirmation sessions, a fall retreat and Confirmation rehearsal. The Sacrament of Confirmation is conferred on those students upon the completion of this course. Confirmation preparation is not just a matter of information but of formation—changing lives to be more Catholic.
BEYOND CONFIRMATION - YOUTH MINISTRY
Our newly confirmed are invited to join Youth Ministry, a group of high school students who meet to socialize, pray and work to serve the community. Check www.saintthomasob.com for more information.