CHRISTIAN FORMATION - what it is, what do we teach and what are our goals?
Christian Formation, in the definition from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, is a program that assists parents in the formation of Catholicism. We at St. Alphonsus are here to provide enrichment and instruction for our families with children in grades pre-K through 11th grade. What we provide can only enrich what you as a family, teach, live and celebrate.
Meal prayers, evening prayers, outreach/service and most importantly the Celebration of the Liturgy (Mass) on a regular basis are the core of our faith. We are only a tool that can help you make these occasions more faith-filled.
As Directors, we, Carol and Kathy, are going to try to show you the instruction and enrichment we strive to provide over the 12 years we could have contact with you and your child/children.
In K4/K5, we strive to teach the children the idea that “I am special/God made me.”
Beginning in First grade, we consistently expose 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.
During Second grade, most 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. This year families and parishioners of all ages will especially benefit from our two plays; Happily Forever After and Sarah’s Box. We will also have Living Stations of the Cross and two weeks of reflection by Thomas the Doubting Apostle and Peter’s mother.
Retreats …. Reconciliation, First Communion, 7/8th grade, 9/10th grade (one day retreats) The previously stated weekend retreat for Confirmation students and the newly organized Christ Have Mercy retreat for adults of all ages .
Outreach activities included this year were: collections of backpacks and school supplies for the near South Side Catholic schools; collection of coats, boots, mittens and hats went to the same schools; tons of food was collected for the Crop Walk; 150+ Thanksgiving Food Boxes went the inner city; 2000 toys initiated by the tags on our parish Christmas trees provided joy for St. Raphael, St. Anthony and the Basilica parish/school children. The Wednesday night classes will again be making bologna and PBJ sandwiches for a local meal program. 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 came 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 came 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)