Religious Education for Children
The Holy Family foreshadowed and anticipated what the Second Vatican Council calls “the domestic church”(Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church [Lumen Gentium], Each Christian family, exemplified in the Holy Family, is to be a microcosm of the larger Church. As the larger Church is a communion of persons, so the family is a small communion of persons. The family receives its life from the larger Body of Christ, the Church, and so comes to mirror the life of this larger Church. Pope John Paul II stated in his apostolic exhortation On the Family (Familiaris Consortio), “The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason . . . it can and should be called ‘the domestic Church’” (no. 21). As Joseph and Mary were the first to proclaim to Jesus the living faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, so Christian fathers and mothers are the first to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to their children. They not only present their child for Baptism, but they also promise within the Rite of Baptism to raise their child in accordance with the Gospel and the teachings of the Church. The Second Vatican Council states that parents,
“By their word and example . . . are the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children” (Lumen Gentium, no. 11). Thus, as the Church is to evangelize all nations, so Catholic parents, in fostering the domestic Church within their own families, are to evangelize their children. They do this in a number of ways, always in keeping with the age of their children.
When your children were baptized, you promised to bring them up in the Catholic faith. I’m sure many of you think that bringing your child to religious education classes fulfills your obligation. In part, it does. The real center of our faith, however, is the Eucharist.
If you do not feel the need to attend Mass because you are “fulfilling” your religious duty by bringing your children to class every week, please understand that religious education is only the introduction to a relationship with God.
We all have our priorities. Children should be offered every opportunity when they are growing up –the religious formation of children is the most valuable gift they can receive and that means celebrating the Eucharist together as a Parish, as well as ensuring their participation in religious education classes.
Connection to God through parish worship offers support and hope. It will make a difference in what kind of person a child becomes. Yes, we want our children to be successful. More than that, we want them to be happy and loving, with good people to stand by them. We want them to rely on God when times get tough, as times do for all of us. In about thirty hours a year, religious education classes cannot provide your children with a relationship with God. Only religious education and practice at home, family prayer and devotions, weekly attendance at Mass, and involvement in the life and ministries of the parish can truly help deepen that relationship.
The Religious Education Program of St. Mary Parish is a Kindergarten through 8th Grade program.
Registration for the program is open only to the children of families registered at St. Mary Parish.
For children preparing for the reception of First Holy Communion, it is expected that they be enrolled in a two-year preparation program beginning in the First Grade. First Confession and First Communion are generally celebrated in the spring of Second Grade. A First Communion Retreat is also required.
For the Sacrament of Confirmation, it is likewise expected that children be enrolled in a two-year preparation program beginning in the Seventh Grade. A mandatory Confirmation Retreat is also required of all candidates. The Sacrament of Confirmation is celebrated in the fall of Ninth Grade.
All children are expected to be enrolled each and every year, K-8, in order to be eligible for the reception of the Sacraments. Catholic School students are exempt from this requirement.
For more information about Religious Education, (Grades K-8), First Communion Program, and Confirmation Program, please contact the Parish Office.
Religious Education for Adults
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is a program for adults seeking full communion in the Catholic Church. It involves the formation and education of both Catholics who are in need of the Sacraments of the Eucharist and/or Confirmation or non-Catholics who are seeking full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. It is the roadmap for the spiritual journey, a gradual process that varies according “to the many forms of God’s grace, the free cooperation of the individual, the actions of the church and the circumstances to time and place.” (RCIA #5)
If you are an adult Catholic (aged 18+) in need of the Sacraments or non-Catholic interesting in learning more about the Catholic faith, please contact the Parish Office.