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Welcome to the Religious Education program at St. Mary’s! We believe that parents are the primary educators of children in matters of faith. Our goal is to help them succeed in that role. Working under the norms and regulations of the Diocese of Harrisburg, we provide organized religious education during the school year for children from preschool through grade eight. While our teachers instruct on the tenets of our religion, it is primarily through the Christian life parents lead at home and in the community that our Catholic faith will be passed on to our children. In addition to instruction, the Religious Education program is here to provide resources to parents so that they can teach their children the Catholic faith under the guidance and direction of our Bishop.
Children who are three, four and five years of age are welcome to begin with Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. These children meet at the same time as classes for the older children. First-grade through eighth-grade students of St. Mary’s families who are not enrolled in Catholic school or home-schooled based on a Catholic curriculum are asked to attend.
Religious education class is not a substitute for Sunday Mass. Families are expected to attend Sunday Mass every week. The Sunday Liturgy provides crucial formation and catechesis that your child needs. In addition, the parish community needs you and your children to make our Eucharistic Liturgies a full communal event.
If Sunday Mass cannot be attended at St. Mary’s because of a schedule conflict, please consult the schedule of other Catholic churches in Lancaster, or if you are traveling, you can find a Mass to attend here. Attending Mass in other areas teaches your child how diverse the Church is while still worshiping with the same Liturgy.
Enrolling your child in Religious Education class will be more effective if attendance is consistent. Regular attendance at class helps children learn and become part of their class. Frequent absence makes it difficult for the child to grasp new concepts. Also, it prevents them from developing a sense of community and identity as a Catholic. Belonging to a community is central to what it means to be Catholic.
Classes begin the first weekend after Labor Day and end mid-May. Most classes are currently held each Sunday from 9:40 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. between the Masses. Parents are invited to join the Adult Formation Groups that meet at the same time. Students in grades seven and eight are invited to also attend Youth Group.
Diocesan guidelines require students to attend two years of religious education prior to receiving the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist, and two years again, prior to receiving Confirmation.
First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion are celebrated in the second grade. First Reconciliation takes place in February and First Holy Communion in May.
Confirmation is held during eighth grade or in the fall of ninth grade depending on the schedule from the bishop. Students prepare for this sacrament in seventh and eighth grades by studying the Sacraments, the laws of the church, and the teachings of Jesus. In particular, the Works of Mercy and Beatitudes are covered both in class and through the commitment each student makes to perform community and church service. Students also are required to meet Spiritual Formation Requirements. All students are expected to attend seventh and eighth grade Religious Education classes to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation unless they are enrolled in a Catholic school or home-schooled based on an approved Catholic curriculum.
The complete, detailed listing of the Diocesan curriculum can be found on the Diocesan website. To assist in teaching the points on this curriculum, our parish uses Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for preschool and kindergarten, the WE BELIEVE textbook series by Sadlier for grades Kindergarten through sixth, and CHOSEN is used in grade seven and eight. The WE BELIEVE series has extensive support for parents, students and teachers on their website, which can be found at WE BELEIVE .
Parents of pre-school through third-grade students are asked to come to the classroom door to pickup their child. If parents would like another adult to pick up their child at the classroom, please indicate so on the Student Dismissal Authorization Form. For all other students: If parents would like the child to be dismissed from the classroom to someone other than the parents or to meet at a location other than the classroom door, a Dismissal Authorization form must be completed and signed for each student to be dismissed. If a child does not have a Student Dismissal Authorization on file with the teacher, he or she will only be dismissed to the parents.
Students are asked to enter the school building through the double doors that face the parking lot or the Beaver Street entrance. Students not attending 8:30 a.m. Mass should wait with parent supervision until the catechist is in the classroom. Classes begin promptly at 9:40 a.m. Dismissal is at 10:50 a.m.