Faith Formation Family Handbook
The mission of the St. Paul Parish Office of Faith Formation is to provide the children of our parish with the resources and strong foundation to become and remain lifelong, active, and spiritually mature Catholics. It is our goal to support parents in their role as the primary catechist of their children. We offer several programs to meet the needs of our families in fulfilling this goal. It is our hope to raise up a new generation of disciples for Jesus Christ. We believe this can best be achieved by both educating our children and leading them into a relationship with God!
- Traditional- Classroom Model
- Family Home Study (FHS)
- Summer Academy
- Special Education and Assistance
Recognizing that parents are the primary catechists of their children, Saint Paul Parish offers the option of home study. This program provides materials and resources for inter-generational faith formation in the home. Families participating in this program are invited to attend Sunday Mass as a group, followed by a large group session four to six times a year.
This program is a summer intensive program, because it covers the materials of 30 hours of religious education classes within a ten day period (meeting for 3 hours a day).
During this program students will also participate in various prayer opportunities, be provided with an experience of liturgical singing with the parish music coordinators, and have the opportunity to tour the church building.
Due to a Diocesan Policy, families participating in Summer Academy must also attend four catechetical events at the parish. These will include three Family Catechesis Sessions, and one Prayer and Liturgy event. These are posted on the Summer Academy Page.
Sometimes circumstances exist that do not allow a child to participate in traditional Religious Education classes. If your child has special educational needs, please contact the Office of Faith Formation at: firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Every possible consideration will be given to help your child grow in faith, and feel more welcomed by the parish.
Our mission is a lofty one. For this reason, it cannot be accomplished through class alone.
We dedicate much time to education, sports, the arts, and other extra-curricular activities in hopes of enriching our lives, and forming positive skills and habits. While we know that participation and dedication to these activities won’t necessarily guarantee success in those areas, we hope that we can gain from them benefits for life.
Much as with schools and other activities, there are expectations for participants both at the activity, and away from the activity, for this reason we will list those expectations here:
Families participating in religious education should make weekly attendance of Sunday Mass a priority.
Time should be set aside for weekly family prayer.
Families should set aside time to consistently review class materials, and read the Bible together.
If adhered to, these suggestions that have been set forward will lead to a more enriching, fulfilling experience of faith formation. These techniques should help to prioritize faith in the lives of our children, leading to our ultimate goal of helping lead them to heaven.
- Overview for Sacraments of Reconciliation and First Eucharist
- Grade 3 and Above: Catching-up on Reconciliation and Eucharist
- First Reconciliation
- First Eucharist
Generally students will receive these sacraments during their second grade year. Diocesan policy requires that students attend first grade in anticipation of this year of preparation. If your student is older than second grade and has not received these sacraments, please contact the Office of Faith Formation to make arrangements to get them caught up. Our parish policy is that students complete curriculum for first and second grade, and also attend two sacramental retreats, the reconciliation retreat in Fall of second grade, and the First Eucharist retreat in the Spring of second grade.
If enough need is demonstrated, a class will be formed for Children grades 3 and above, who return to religious education. This class meets on Sunday Morning, this class meets during the Sunday Morning Session (or on Tuesday if large need dictated), older children participating will have an opportunity to celebrate the sacraments as a class.
Under special circumstances children may be registered in their age appropriate class, and allowed to prepare for the sacraments at home with their parents.
The sacramental preparation retreats are a morning for students and parents to review and become more familiar with the sacraments. Students and parents will have split sessions and time together to discuss and do activities. Students will get the opportunity to become more comfortable with the sacraments , and parents will have the opportunity to become more familiar with the practicalities of the celebrations.
- Overview for Confirmation
- Catechetical Requirements in the Sacrament Year
- Confirmation Formation: PURPOSE
Young people are expected to participate in any available option for Confirmation year (8th grade) including Family Home Study, the Traditional Program, and Summer Academy (this program is extremely popular and there are limited spaces). Students enrolled in Catholic Schools are not expected to participate in an additional catechetical program. However, they will need to attend PURPOSE
We have adopted a youth ministry format for our Confirmation Formation.
Purpose is a dynamic program that strives to communicate four imperative truths to teens:
1) there is a God who loves you
2) He lives within you
3) there’s a world that needs Him
4) so He is sending you into the world.
Through these truths, teens can find their own purpose in God’s will for the world. We will share the mission of Purpose through a series of sessions that take place outside the typical classroom environment, encouraging Candidates to enter into dialogue about their personal faith life with leaders and peers. These sessions will aid our Candidates in learning how to communicate their faith, live it more fully, and promote the idea of the Church as a community of believers. In addition to being Confirmed and completing their initiation into the Church, our hope is that candidates will become true disciples of Jesus Christ.
These sessions will occur on a Friday or Sunday once a month from September-April.
Confirmation is celebrated during the spring of 8th grade.
- Class Placements
- Cell Phone Policy
- Additional Parking
- Calendar and Emergency Closure
All of our catechists are volunteers who give of their time and talents generously throughout the year. All catechists are encouraged to attend certification sessions to further their faith knowledge and teaching skills. An annual catechist workshop is offered and many formation opportunities are available through the parish and the Diocese of Trenton. We are always in need of catechists and helpers. Please consider sharing your faith with our young people. Please call the Office of Faith Formation if you would like to help. All of our catechists are finger-printed and attend a VIRTUS training session as part of our ongoing effort to protect children.
Registration for each session occurs on a first come first served basis. Please schedule carefully. Consistency is vital in the creation of a report between student and catechist, and between the class in general. Constant switching can cause unnecessary disruption. Barring dire need, no reassignments will occur following the FIRST SUNDAY IN OCTOBER. Catechists are recruited for sessions based on early registration numbers.
Constant classroom disruptions cannot be tolerated. If a student is being seriously disruptive in class, they and their parents will need to meet with the Director of Religious Education to discuss possible solutions to the behavior issues. We understand that in some cases, behavioral issues are associated with a special need. If this is the case, please contact the Office of Faith Formation to make arrangements for a classroom aid. There is a section on the registration form that allows you to indicate if there are any special needs. We will, within the best of our ability, make accommodations .
It is understood that even many young children have cell phones. If they are seen texting, web browsing, or using apps, they will be made to put their phone on their catechists desk. A parent will have to return to the class with the student to retrieve the phone following dismissal. If this sort of disruption occurs more than once, parents will be asked to keep their child’s phone when they drop them off for class.
As outlined in the expectations, all students should be in attendance for all scheduled classes. Understanding that illness and family emergencies occur when these instances occur, please contact the Office of Faith Formation to notify of absence. Parents will be expected to cover the materials their child is missing at home before returning to class.
Tardiness is disruptive to the catechist, your students classmates, and means that your child is missing important material. For additional parking options see below.
If your student incurs 3 unexcused and consecutive absences or is tardy 5 times, you and your child will be asked to meet with the Director of Religious Education. At that time your options will be discussed. Family Home Study may be suggested.
If you wish to continue your child in their scheduled program, you and your child will be expected to complete together an online or paper evaluation that demonstrates that you have reviewed the materials they have missed.
The curriculum for Religious Education classes meeting Sunday, Tuesday, and Home Study will be available on the parish website, and can be accessed by clicking the Religious Ed tab on the home page. Select the program your child is enrolled in, and go to the accordion menu toward the bottom of that page.
If parking is a challenge we ask that you consider parking in our auxiliary lot for weekend Masses. This parking lot is located across from the church behind 185 Nassau Street. Turn onto William Street from Washington Rd, or travel down Charlton St (directly across from the church) and take the first right on William St. The lot will be on your right.
The program calendar, this booklet, and other official documents will be available through the Faith Formation Tab of the parish website.
In case of an emergency closing, you will see information of the website, receive a constant contact email, and can call the emergency hotline
All families enrolled in Religious Education Programs are expected to enroll in automatic updates. This will push notifications to an email address of your choice. The Office of Religious Education is doing its best to move away from wasteful paper handouts, or direct emailings other than those sent through the parish website.