CHRISTIAN FORMATION - what it is, what do we teach and what are our goals?
The Child Ministry Program uses the Blest Are We Parish Series published by RCL Benziger. This is a spiral series teaching the basic religion curriculum, 1st – 5th grades, each year building on the previous year. The 6th grade begins the study of the Old Testament. During the first 6th grade class each student is presented with a Bible to use throughout the rest of his formal religious study.
In addition to the basal series, the students are required to memorize basic prayers and participate in simple in-house service projects.
Built into this program is the expectation that all children will attend Mass with their families each week.
- K5 strives to teach the children the idea that “I am special/God made me.”
- First grade consistently exposes them to Jesus stories. We begin to teach them about the three Sacraments of Initiation; Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation, which together bring us into the full life of the Church.
- Second grade students prepare for the reception of both the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Sacrament of First Communion. Reconciliation is actually easier to comprehend because it is so black and white. Children at this age really do understand right and wrong and making choices. We introduce the “Jesus way” – the Great Commandment, “Love God above all things and love your neighbor as yourself”. They can grasp the mantra What Would Jesus Do? Eucharist (or Communion) is much more abstract. Their textbook dwells on understanding the Mass. We can only receive Communion by attending Mass. The Catholic faith teaches that to receive Communion is to receive the true Body and Blood of Christ. This practice enriches us as human beings and fills us with the Spirit and the strength to go out and love and serve the Lord.
- Third Grade is all about the Apostles Creed. This prayer, written by the Apostles, is the foundation of our faith.
- Fourth Grade is a study of the 10 Commandments. This continues the study about right and wrong and making choices begun in 2nd grade. The Beatitudes are also introduced at this time. These positive ways of life were taught by Jesus to give us a roadmap to heaven.
- Fifth Grade is an in-depth study of all 7 Sacraments.
- Sixth Grade is scripture, scripture, scripture. We present each student with their own Bible at this level. Lessons flow from our patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph – to Jesus, our Savior.
- Seventh grade is the transitional time of a young teen’s life where problems may seem overwhelming. Our intention is to help them realize that the Holy Spirit gives us the strength we need to face all issues of life which we may encounter.
- Eighth grade is a concise and detailed examination of what makes us Catholic. The Creed, symbols, Mass, sacraments, prayers and practices are all included.
- Ninth grade centers around morality - Morality concerning lying, stealing, putting down people and discrimination. They discuss and come to consensus on how a person of their age can live by the Commandments.
- Tenth grade is a complete year on the teachings of Catholic Social Justice. At each class a speaker from the larger Catholic community shares with them views of the Catholic social teachings. In addition, these students actually have the opportunity to experience these teachings within the Milwaukee area on any one of three weekends each month.
- Eleventh grade – CONFIRMATION! “Yes, I want to become a part of the adult Catholic Church.” Through small group classes, weekend retreat, service hours, and by becoming an active member of one of the ministries of our parish, these young adults are given the opportunity to live and experience the Catholic faith to its fullest.
We also try to enrich our entire program by providing meaningful experiences by bringing in professional speakers on topics pertinent to different grade levels where both parents and students are given an opportunity to share insights.
Lent provides a time of spiritual enrichment and help to refocus our lives each year. Activities in our parish are provided for all generations.
Retreats …. Reconciliation, First Communion, 7/8th grade, 9/10th grade (one day retreats) and the weekend retreat for Confirmation students.
Outreach activities included are: collections of backpacks and school supplies for the near South Side Catholic schools; collection of coats, boots, mittens and hats to the same schools; tons of food is collected for the Crop Walk; 200+ Thanksgiving Food Boxes for Hope House; 2000+ toys initiated by the tags on our parish Christmas trees provided joy for again for the Southside Catholic School families. To end the year, all classes make many wonderful Easter Baskets which are given to the younger children of the South Side Catholic schools.
As a parish, we come together for Breakfast with St. Nicholas and his Friends. We share a meal of Bread and Soup on Ash Wednesday. The 6th grade families experience a Jewish-type Seder meal. All parish volunteers come together at a pot-luck dinner for fun and fellowship.
To help you on your journey, make sure to check out our Parish Library that is filled with enrichments especially for the seasons.
Finally regular participation at Liturgy is the summit of our faith.
Mass provides all of us with
- Scripture we don’t always have to time to read on our own,
- The opportunity for interpretation of how we can live a more Christ-like life,
- Nourishment from the Body and Blood of Christ,
- And the knowledge that we are in the presence of a community of believers like ourselves.
We are at your service.
Kathy Monacelli (Director of Child Ministry) and Carol Fischer (Director of Youth Ministry)