Youth Faith Formation
Faith Formation Plan 2020-21
Socially Distant Faith Formation at Mother Teresa will be offered in the 20-21 school year. If you would like to register please email Jennifer Gurecki. As a rule, in person classes will not be offered this year, though there may be optional classes/get togethers for elementary and middle school students and retreats for first sacraments and confirmation students. Due to differences in learning styles socially distant education will look different for different programs and grade levels. All students and parents will have access to an online platform to share questions and ideas and post progress. Older students may receive journal prompts through this platform.
Given the social distancing restrictions all regular curricula materials will be sent home. This year we will be using the Pflaum weeklies for our base curricula. Both first and second grade will be using Good News Weeklies and supplemented with weekly crafts and activities. In addition to online materials to help parents tackle the lessons at home, families will be arranged into cohorts with similarly aged children and led by a mentor who will check in with you and your kids so you don’t have to “go it alone”. If you wish to volunteer to be a mentor-leader, an option will be provided in the registration. Mentors will meet regularly with me, send weekly emails to families and meet with families about once a month. All will have access to a parish Zoom account.
With high numbers of COVID 19 right now we don’t see many in person gatherings in the future. This may change if numbers get under control. I am planning a “Pickup Party” in September when families can drive through and pick up supplies!
I will also need volunteers at the end of August/beginning of September to sort and label family supplies. Again, there will be a place to volunteer in the registration.
The Middle School Team is hard at work on plans for the 20-21 School year. Much like last year this will be a discussion format class based on Catholic Connections from Saint Marys Press. Students will not be receiving books, but will receive bibles (new students only). Classes will be held over ZOOM weekly at noon on Sundays. If conditions permit, we will try and meet monthly during good weather for activities out on the Land or at a nearby park. This will allow more interaction. I am looking for a few good men and women who are comfortable with Zoom platform to help lead as Catechists. This is a GREAT team to work with and the kids are really rewarding too!
First Reconciliation and Communion
Students who have not received first sacraments, have had one full year of faith formation, and are at least 7 years old at the beginning of class are eligible to participate in First Reconciliation and Communion preparation. All students must receive First Reconciliation before receiving First Communion.
First Communion and Reconciliation this year will look significantly different from previous years. Given the social distancing restrictions all regular curricula materials will be sent home. This year we will be using the Pflaum weeklies for our base curricula. Both first and second grade will be using Good News Weeklies. In addition to online materials to help parents tackle the lessons at home, families will be arranged into cohorts with similarly aged children and led by a mentor who will check in with you and your kids so you don’t have to “go it alone”.
Last year we switched Faith Formation Curriculum for first Sacraments to Go Seek and Find from Saint Mary’s Press. This program has 8 fall lessons and 10 spring lessons. There will also be both a fall and spring retreat. We do intend to support this program with catechists! How? Our two experienced catechists have agreed to tackle this preparation portion of the program. One will run an online class. A zoom session for 4-5 kids will be run every other week or so and they will review the material together. The other would prefer to run in person classes out on the parish land, on Sunday afternoons. This socially distant class would have 8 or fewer children. This class would run as a 4-6 week intensive in the fall and spring. The retreats will be take-home packets along with Zoom (or if conditions improve) in person training)
In order to have as little interaction outside the group as possible we will need parent assistance in both the online and in person classes. The burden should not be onerous and you may be asked to volunteer a handful of times. First Reconciliation should take place in November, before Christmas. Classes will resume in the spring and First Communion will take place in May. Should the situation improve we may seek more in person interaction in the Spring. Your input would be sought at that point in time, and we would work with your comfort level.
Students who prepared in 19-20 and who have not received sacraments due to the shutdown do not need to register for first sacraments again. They will receive as soon as we have facilities in which to They can register for 3rd grade in the 20-21 school year.
Those with additional questions about format or eligibility should contact Jennifer Gurecki at mtccfaithformation at gmail.com for assistance.
Students entering the 9th grade (or higher) and who are at least 14 years old and were either enrolled in 8th grade faith formation OR went to Catholic school in 8th grade are eligible for Confirmation preparation.
Confirmation class has two components a Faith Formation Component and a Spiritual Preparation Component. In the past the spiritual preparation has taken place in the classroom and the Faith Formation has taken place through online Zooms. This year both will take place online.
As in the past, the faith formation component will not be required (though all are welcome) for students already enrolled in religion classes at their catholic school. The spiritual development component will be required for all students. In addition, the families will need to complete faith formation paperwork including sponsor forms, turn in baptismal certificates. Candidates will need to find a saint that they wish to emulate and write me a short essay about that in the spring and tell me why they want to be confirmed in the spring. These requirements have not changed from previous years.
The Catechetical part of the program will focus on a reasoned explanation of the existence of a Good, Loving God and Christianity as being the best path for serving Him and each other. I will be using a series of videos based on radio addresses by CS Lewis to foster discussion on these points. The last class in this portion will focus on responding to people who do not share our beliefs (there is only one acceptable response, by the way, LOVE). This portion will have 6 online classes.
The spiritual preparation portion of the curriculum will focus on developing an active prayer life. Students will be given prayer journals and asked to complete a DAILY prayer activity. The group lessons will focus on different prayer exercises, with emphasis on prayer to the Holy Spirit. As we get closer to the sacrament of Confirmation, we will focus more on the aid we expect from the sacrament and finally the form of the sacrament itself.
Right now, we have a retreat scheduled for the weekend of 2/14. While this is a wonderful opportunity for the teens to do extended contemplation and faith sharing, this may not be reasonable given the state of the pandemic right now. I have not included the cost of the retreat in the cost of the Confirmation program this year due to the uncertainty. I will let you know by October if we will be going forward with this retreat. I would like everyone to reserve the date 2/14 however as that is the primary date for an online retreat IF the retreat must be cancelled. A retreat is a program requirement. If an in-person retreat goes forward I will schedule an online retreat for those who cannot attend. If you cannot make either, I will have work assigned for you to turn in. Spiritual preparation is the most important part of the preparation process, that is why the retreat is required. Sponsors will also be invited to attend a portion of an online retreat.
We anticipate confirmation to be scheduled for spring 2021, but we receive this information from the diocese in the fall. If the virus is still active in the spring, the bishop may delegate his faculties to the pastors again. I will pass along any information when I know more. Since we will not see much of each other in person and it is difficult to feel connected in an online forum, I’d like to meet each student individually online. I will have a signup sheet to schedule these meetings by mid-August for early September.
Finally, if anyone would like to assist with Confirmation this year, there is room for more catechists! Please contact me or fill in your interest in the registration.
Sacramental Preparation Guidelines
Sacramental preparation (First Reconciliation, First Communion, Confirmation) requires some of this formal, church-based instruction. The standard for instruction is two years formal faith formation and a specialized sacramental program before children are eligible for the Sacrament.
Typically, children in the U. S. receive First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion in second grade. That means they need to go to first and second grade faith formation (or Catholic School) and receive instruction on the sacrament. This is done through workshops and take-home workbooks in the home parish, not at school.
Some families choose to hold off on Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. We welcome these students. If a second grader who has not completed first grade faith formation comes to us, we generally enroll them in first grade and they travel forward with a slightly younger group until they complete First Holy Communion (in their second-grade year). They can then skip a grade and enter the fourth grade in faith formation the following fall.
Older children go through a process called Intermediate Sacramental Prep. A fifth grader with no previous Faith Formation would attend a standard fifth grade class. In sixth grade they would attend a standard sixth grade class. But there would be a take-home book for Reconciliation and First Holy Communion and approximately six workshops (Sunday mornings) throughout the year to do a little additional catechesis typically done in the classroom.
This describes a typical scenario. In truth decisions are made together with the parents to best accommodate the needs of the children.
Confirmation preparation rules are similar to the rules for Reconciliation and Eucharist. In the Diocese of Raleigh students are typically confirmed in the spring of ninth grade or the fall of tenth grade.
The actual Confirmation date is decided by the diocese based on the bishop’s schedule. Some smaller parishes are asked to combine their Confirmation ceremony with larger parishes. We anticipate confirming our students in the spring (April/May) but we will not know until the diocese releases the schedule. Two years of formal faith formation are required before Confirmation along with a sacramental program. The formal preparation years are typically eighth and ninth grade and Confirmation prep largely happens in the ninth-grade year. Through Confirmation youth are invited to take an adult role in the church.
The preparation for Confirmation requires more individual responsibility on the part of the youth than does the preparation for Reconciliation or First Eucharist. Sometimes youth are not ready for this in eight and ninth grade and they are welcome to join the process later in high school as well.
We believe that all sacraments will take place at Mother Teresa in the coming year. In the past families have been able to request to have their First Communions at St. Michael’s. We are now separate communities and we will not be honoring those requests in the 2018-19 school year. If you would like to have your First Communion at St. Michael’s please register in their Faith Formation program.
If you have additional questions about faith formation registration or would like to volunteer please email Jennifer Gurecki
First Communion/First Reconciliation
First Reconciliation and First Communion are typically celebrated in 2nd grade. The diocese requires two years of Faith Formation before the celebration of first sacraments. This can either be in a Catholic school or in a faith formation program.
Registration in Mother Teresa’s Faith Formation program is required to be able to receive sacraments at Mother Teresa Mission. Registration typically takes place between June and July, but you should feel free to contact us at any time if you have questions. Please email the coordinator at MTCCFaithFormation@gmail.com or call the main office for more details.
Confirmation is typically celebrated in the spring of 9th grade or the fall of 10th grade. The diocese requires two years of Faith Formation before the celebration of first sacraments, this can either be in a Catholic school or in a faith formation program. Sacraments take place in a youth’s home parish, so registration in Mother Teresa’s Faith Formation program is required to receive sacraments at Mother Teresa. Registration typically takes place between May and August, but you should feel free to contact us at any time if you have questions. Please email the coordinator at MTCCFaithFormation@gmail.com or call the main office for more details.