Faith Formation Family Handbook

Mission Statement

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!

Programs

Traditional- Classroom Model

This is the classroom model for Religious Education. Children in Kindergarten-Eighth Grade attend weekly classes where they are instructed by a catechist who has been certified through the Diocese of Trenton. Religious Education classes are offered Sunday Morning (K-8), Tuesday Afternoon (1-8), and Tuesday Night (6-8).

Family Home Study (FHS)

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.

Summer Academy

This very popular 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.


Special Education and Assistance

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: jmcguire@stpaulsofprinceton.org for assistance.

Every possible consideration will be given to help your child grow in faith, and feel more welcomed by the parish.

Formal Policies

Programmatic Expectations

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:

Attendance

All students will be in attendance for all scheduled classes unless otherwise excused. Absences will be excused due to illness or family emergency. Otherwise please plan on having your child in class each session, or choose to enroll in Family Home Study.

Preparedness

Students will be on time and ready to participate in religious education.

As such, they will have brought their book and used the restroom before going to class.

Conduct

Students will not disrupt class in any way; not by leaving the room multiple times during class, or by leaving class early to go to another activity. The parish offers many different sessions, you should select the session that your family is able to fully commit to.

Family Participation

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.

The Sacraments of Reconciliation and First Eucharist

Overview for Sacraments of Reconciliation and 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.

Grade 3 and Above: Catching-up on Reconciliation and Eucharist

Children grades 3 and above, who return to religious education, will participate in a special make-up class. This class meets on Sunday Morning, this class meets during the Sunday Morning Session, 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.

First Reconciliation

This Sacrament will generally be celebrated on a Saturday morning in late fall or early winter. In September of second grade there will be a parent meeting to discuss sacramental preparation. Parents of older children preparing for the sacraments should also attend.

First Eucharist

Details of dates are made known to parents as soon as they become available. Families have the opportunity to celebrate the reception of First Eucharist at scheduled First Holy Eucharist Masses or during Sunday liturgies after preparation has been completed.

Retreats

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.

The Sacrament of Confirmation

Overview for Confirmation

Candidates for Confirmation should attend religious education classes in 6th-8th grade in preparation for the celebration of the sacrament. This offers the opportunity to develop a firmer grasp of the faith from the perspective of a teenager.

Catechetical Requirements in the Sacrament Year

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 program.

Confirmation Formation: One8

We have adopted a youth ministry format for our Confirmation Formation.

The Confirmation preparation program, “One 8,” is a curriculum that is published by Life Teen, Inc., a leader in Catholic youth ministry for the last 29 years. In addition to their standard 8th grade curriculum, students will attend “One 8’ sessions outside the classroom to enhance their preparation process, as well as to prepare young teens to move into our youth ministry program after the celebration of Confirmation.

These sessions will occur on a Friday or Sunday once a month from September-April.

Focusing on evangelization and mission, “One 8” will prepare teens to be confirmed in their Catholic faith and empower them to continue on with it through adulthood. Throughout this process and by their Confirmation, young teens are asked to give witness to what it means to be Catholic

Confirmation is celebrated during the spring of 8th grade.

General Policies

Catechists

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.

Class Placements

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.

Discipline

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 .

Cell Phone Policy

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.

Attendance

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.

Curriculum

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.

This will not be available for Summer Academy.

Additional Parking

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.

Calendar and Emergency Closure

The program calendar, this booklet, and other official documents will be available through the Faith Formation Tab of the parish website.

Stpaulsofprinceton.org

In case of an emergency closing, you will see information of the website, receive a constant contact email, and can call the emergency hotline

(609)216-7605

Communications

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.

PREP Calendar