St. Ann Church Catechists Handbook For Religious Education

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1 St. Ann Church Catechists Handbook For Religious Education Revised May 4, 2012

2 Table of Contents Arrival and Dismissal 6 Attendance 6 Attendance Registers 5 Bibles 7 Books 7 Catechetical Congress 5 Catechetical Sunday 5 Catechist s Binder 8 Collaboration with Parents 4 Communications 7 Copies 7 Corporal Punishment 7 Curriculum Guidelines 4 Custodial Status.9 Discipline 7 Drugs.9 Emergency Closing 8 Eucharistic Liturgy 4 Faith Qualities 3 Family Life Curriculum 9 Fire Drills 9 Homework 8 Lavatories 6 Medication Policy 9 Meetings 8 Mission of the Catechist 4 Mission Statement 3 Nature of Relationships 5 No Food Policy 9 Policy for Suspected Child Abuse.9 Prayer 7 Purpose of the Catechists Handbook 3 Religious Education Office 9 Religious Education Policy 4 Resource Materials 8 Sacramental Preparation 8 Schedule of Classes 9 School Property 10 Student Cell Phone Usage 10 Tests.8 Textbooks Used 8 Treats/Parties/Celebrations 10 MISSION STATEMENT 2

3 The ultimate goal of our Religious Education Program is to lead the children, young adults and adults of our parish to love the Person of Jesus Christ and to understand and to appreciate the salvation and the new life of grace that He won for us. Through the power, grace and inspiration of the Holy Spirit we strive to lead everyone to a life of prayer and communion with our God that shows itself in service to others who are in need. We seek to instill a deep love for the Real Presence of Jesus in the Sacrament of the Eucharist and an appreciation for the Healing and Forgiving Presence of Jesus in the Sacrament of Penance. It is our desire to nurture all with the richness of our Catholic Faith which has been revealed as true through Scripture and Tradition. We entrust our mission to our loving mother, Mary, and her mother, our patron, St. Ann. The Religious Education Program at St. Ann Church would not be possible without your faithful, generous assistance. We thank you for volunteering to teach in our program. Rev. Msgr. Michael J. Corona PA, KCHS Pastor Mrs. Christine Esposito Director of Religious Education URPOSE OF THE CATECHISTS HANDBOOK The purpose of this handbook is to provide assistance to the Catechist in making our Religious Education Program a vehicle of quality Christian education. Each catechist is expected to read and carry out the guidelines provided in these pages to the best of his/her ability. FAITH QUALITIES The qualities that are recognized in those who are appointed to the catechetical ministry enable the Church to fulfill her mission. The Catechist is a person who: ~ is committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ and is able to witness to gospel values by Daily-lived experiences ~ is prayerful and open to the power of the Holy Spirit ~ is faithful to the teachings of the magisterium of the Catholic Church ~ is active in the sacramental life ~ participates in weekly Sunday Mass ~ recognizes the dignity of children and is sensitive to their needs ~ is able to articulate and express his/her own faith experiences ~ desires to foster awareness of peace and justice as they pertain to the universal mission Of the Church EUCHARISTIC LITURGY Students are expected to attend weekly Sunday Mass, as well as the Religious Education classes. Parents are responsible for bringing their children to the sacraments of Penance and Eucharist regularly. A new directive has been given by the pastor. The students will bring to class a bulletin each week. It does not have to be signed. The teacher will collect and record them. The teacher will also have the 3

4 students fill out a form that will tell who the priest was that said Mass, and a short summary of what the Gospel was about. If a student misses three Masses, the parent must make an appointment to see the Director of Religious Education to discuss the reason for not attending these Masses. If a valid reason is not given, then the student will be suspended from the program and will need to repeat his/her current grade the following year. Also, if a student is part of the St. Ann s sports program misses Mass three times, they will not be able to continue to participate in the sports program. RELIGIOUS EDUCATION POLICY The policy of the Religious Education Program of St. Ann Church is determined by the Diocesan Office of Religious Education of Metuchen Diocese, the Pastor and the Director of Religious Education. The established policy is communicated through this Catechists Handbook. MISSION OF THE CATECHIST The Second Vatican Council has described the Church s catechetical mission as providing for its children an education by virtue of which their whole lives may be inspired by the spirit of Christ. 1 It is in developing an intimate communion with the Person of Christ that we share in the life of the Trinity and realize the eternal joy of heaven - the destiny for which we were created. Hence, the mission of the catechist is to enable the student to develop a personal relationship with Christ within the community of the Church based on the constant teaching of the Catholic Church. In light of the fact that too many Catholics do not know their faith and have grown lukewarm in their relationship with the Lord, we challenge catechists to accept with renewed vigor the sacred mission to bring their students more deeply into the fullness of the Christian life. CURRICULUM GUIDELINES Please see the attached document Wisdom, the Diocese of Metuchen s elementary education curriculum guidelines. COLLABORATION WITH PARENTS For Catholic parents, the mission to catechize is rooted in the Sacrament of Matrimony which consecrates them for the Christian education of their children. This sacrament enriches them with wisdom, counsel, fortitude, and all the other gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to help the children in their growth as human beings and as Christians. 2 By virtue of this sacrament, parents are the primary educators of their children. Therefore, catechists are encouraged to communicate with parents throughout the school year so that a collaborative effort may be made, each supporting the other in providing a foundation in Roman Catholic doctrine and morals. Together, they fulfill the mandate Christ gave His followers to Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28: 19-20) A partnership between catechists and parents creates an atmosphere that has a strong positive influence on the child. Careful listening and mutual respect set the foundation for sincere and meaningful communication. 1 The Church has been entrusted with the mission and power to explain with authority what Christ has taught. At the very heart of catechesis, then, is the mystery of the Person of Christ, Who is the Word made flesh. Vatican Council II, Declaration on Christian Education 2 On the Family, Pope John Paul II, 1981, 38 4

5 NATURE OF RELATIONSHIPS Students in our Religious Education Program are encouraged to be respectful, caring individuals. Honesty, fairness, courtesy, and cooperation are encouraged in order to prepare students for present and future relationships. Recognizing that each child is a unique creation and gift of the Father, with special talents and capabilities, we encourage students to discover their uniqueness as children of God. Catechists support each other in creating an atmosphere of Christian community. They acknowledge each other s talents and achievements as incentives for personal professional growth by sharing and exchanging ideas that will enhance their classes. This cooperative effort reflects the catechists shared commitment to build the Kingdom of God here and now. A productive learning atmosphere in the classroom begins with the catechist as a role model. The catechist strives to exemplify fairness and honesty, together with caring and sincere interest in the welfare of every child. Above all, the catechists must keep in mind that it is ultimately not their efforts, but the interaction of God s grace and human freedom which leads people to accept faith and respond to it 3 Faithfulness to the catechetical mission of the Church includes careful planning, many hours of work in and out of the classroom, and trusting perseverance, often in the face of discouragement. Like the sower that scatters the seed, catechists plant the kernel of the Good News in the minds and hearts of their students, while it is God Who gives the yield in due time. This vital work for the sake of the Kingdom of God does not go unnoticed. Jesus reminds us that Whoever fulfills and teaches these commands shall be great in the Kingdom of God (Matthew 5:19) CATECHETICAL SUNDAY Catechetical Sunday will be celebrated at St. Ann Church on a designated Sunday in September. Catechists will be commissioned at that time. CATECHETICAL CONGRESS Details and information about the Congress will be sent from the Religious Education Office. ATTENDANCE REGISTERS The Attendance Register is essential to a student s accountability. These are handed back to the Religious Education Office in April. ATTENDANCE STUDENTS We expect perfect attendance for religious education. A child should miss class only for reasons of illness, death in the family or some other emergency. If a child is absent from class for two consecutive weeks, the catechist should contact the parents. This will enable the catechist to give assignments to the parents so the students can make up missed work, preferably by the next class. No more than three excused absences will be allowed per year. There will be a warning sent home after two absences. If a third absence occurs, the student will be removed from the program and need to 3 National Catechetical Directory, 213 5

6 repeat the current grade the following year. The catechist should call frequent absences to the attention of the Director of Religious Education. * Sports and other extracurricular activities are not acceptable excuses for absence from religion class. (*This is a Diocesan regulation.) Each catechist is responsible for keeping a record of the students absences and for taking attendance at the beginning of each class. Students need to give a written excuse of absence upon returning to class. These need to be kept until the last class in April. CATECHISTS The catechist s weekly presence in the classroom is extremely important. However, illness or personal emergencies do arise. When this occurs, the Director of Religious Education should be notified as far ahead as possible. SUBSTITUTE PROCEDURES Please keep lesson plans up to date, in case a substitute is needed. Use the Lesson Plan form enclosed in binder. PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU FILL IN YOUR PLANNING AHEAD WITH THE CHAPTER AND LESSON THAT THE SUBSTITUTE SHOULD COVER. With this in mind, please prepare each week the lesson that you will be teaching and the lesson for the following week. You will be planning two lessons at a time. CLASS SUPERVISION Each catechist is responsible for supervising his/her class at all times. This includes the time before and after class as well as during class. In case of an emergency, the catechist may ask a colleague or a hall monitor to cover the class for a short time or send a student or hall monitor for the Director of Religious Education. If a child should become ill or hurt, the catechist must stay with the child until the Director of Religious Education contacts his/her parents. ARRIVAL AND DISMISSAL Catechists should be in their classrooms fifteen minutes before class starts. Children will not be permitted to enter any classroom unless the catechist is already present in that room. Students should only be released to an authorized parent or guardian. Students should not be dismissed early from class unless they have a written note from a parent/guardian. Each catechist is expected to leave the classroom better than the way it is found. Remind your students to respect the property of others and to use it with care. Save a few minutes at the end of class, before dismissal, for the students to pick up papers from the floor, straighten desks, clean chalkboard, and lock windows. Please place chairs on top of desks. LAVATORIES Groups of students may not be sent to the lavatory areas without supervision. Children should be encouraged to use facilities before coming to class. If a need arises during class, children are sent out one at a time. BIBLES Bibles will be given to the children in Grade7. These are for them to keep and use throughout their religious formation. Children are to bring Bibles to class weekly. Replacement of lost Bibles will cost $ BOOKS Each student should receive a textbook for the year. Students should be instructed in the proper care of books and that they need to be brought to class every week. Replacement of lost textbooks will cost $30.00 each. 6

7 PRAYER Each class begins and ends with a prayer and may include references to the current lesson, e.g. on Baptism, Lord, help us to grow in the virtues of faith, hope and charity. Class time should be taken to explain the importance and necessity of praying individually and together. Class prayer services are also encouraged. Students are expected to memorize the required prayers for each grade level. Younger children may enjoy show and tell. They can bring a religious object, statue or picture etc., and share about it. COPIES Catechists who wish to make copies may do so in the following ways. Preferably give your requested pages to the director a week or two before they are needed to make the copies for you, or you may make your own copies, if you have access to a copier. COMMUNICATIONS Written communication is sent home with the students or ed. Please give the Director of Religious Education a copy of any letter or notice that you send home to a parent or cc me in the . DISCIPLINE The effectiveness of a good catechist is directly related to classroom management. Well prepared lesson plans, clearly articulated expectations and consequences will minimize disciplinary problems. Consistency, fairness and respect for the student will aid in developing self-control. Disrespect toward a catechist will not be tolerated. Inappropriate behavior*, lack of effort, or poor attitude on the part of a student will result in: ~ The child will be spoken to privately by catechist ~ Catechist will inform Director of Religious Education of any particular difficulties with a child ~ Catechist will telephone parent ~ If necessary conference with catechist, parent and Director of Religious Education will be scheduled If the difficulty persists, the student will be withdrawn from the program until alternative solutions are worked out with catechist, parent, child and Director of Religious Education. If the student continues in the program, a method of on-going evaluation will be put into effect. *Note-Children with a disability, ADD, etc, may display behavioral disorders and are often on medication which may affect their performance. CORPORAL PUNISHMENT Corporal punishment is not permitted. The law defines corporal punishment as any punitive touching such as pushing, shoving, and slapping. HOMEWORK Homework is assigned to supplement or reinforce classwork. 1) Assignments are to be directly related to classwork and reasonable in length. (Age appropriate and be considerate of regular academic assignments.) 2) Homework should not be used to punish students. 3) Assignments should be varied and can include long-term projects. 7

8 4) Students should be held accountable for their assignments. Always check that each assignment has been completed. TESTS Each catechist administers their own tests in order to assess the students understanding of the truths of our faith that are being taught. SACRAMENTAL PREPARATION The Diocese of Metuchen requires participation in a two-year Sacramental Preparation Program prior to the reception of First Penance and Eucharist (Grades 1-2) and Confirmation (Grades 7-8). There are parent meetings and a retreat for each sacrament. Proximate preparation includes two practices. These preparations are mandatory. EMERGENCY CLOSING The decision for an emergency closing will be made by the Director of Religious Education. We are in session unless you receive notification by the instant alert program of Honeywell. CATECHISTS BINDER A binder will be distributed to each catechist at the Catechist Meeting. It contains the curriculum, resources for the church liturgical year, basic truths of our Faith, information about the saints and saints days, lesson plans, activities, and other helpful information. These need to be kept in good order and returned to the Director of Religious Education at the end of each class. MEETINGS From time to time there will be required meetings to attend. The meetings are to help communicate as a team and allow us to bring quality teaching to our program. RESOURCE MATERIALS Books and videos are available in the Resource Room. Please sign when you remove and return them to the Resource Room at the end of class. TEXTBOOKS USED Loyola Press - Christ Our Life Series Benzinger- Family Life Sadler- We Live Our Faith Volume 1 Harcourt- Call To Celebrate Call to Celebrate Reconciliation Call to Celebrate Eucharist 8

9 FAMILY LIFE CURRICULUM It is the policy of the Diocese of Metuchen to have the Benziger Family Life Program incorporated into every parish s catechetical program. FIRE DRILLS Refer to the instructions on the wall of your respective classroom. Catechists are to exit the building with their class, and are required to take their Attendance Registers with them to account for each student s presence. Wait outside for further instructions. If this should occur during end of class, parents are requested to exit the building immediately, go to the parking lot and wait for further instructions. RELIGIOUS EDUCATION OFFICE The religious education office is located in St. Ann Rectory. Our phone number is , ext. 114 or my cell is (for emergencies). My is SCHEDULE OF CLASSES Monday evening St. Ann School 6:00 7:15PM Thursday evening St. Ann School 7:15 7:15PM Tuesday evening St. Ann School 6:30 7:30PM (Special Needs) 2 nd Sunday of the month St. Ann School 10:30 1:00PM (Includes 12:00 Mass For our Confirmation Students POLICY FOR SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE The Diocese of Metuchen directs that if a catechist/director suspects a child has been abused, the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) be notified immediately, in compliance with New Jersey statutes. Any information which leads a catechist to believe that a student intends to harm himself/herself requires the catechist to notify authority. If a student asks to speak confidentially to a catechist, the catechist should advise the student that information will be shared if the student is in danger of suicide, self-inflicted harm, etc. Volunteer catechists are legally responsible. CUSTODIAL STATUS It is the responsibility of the parents to notify the Director of Religious Education in writing of custodial status and any restrictions concerning the non-custodial parent. DRUGS Drugs are not allowed on premises. If a student is found to be in possession of drugs, the student will be detained while police are notified. Catechists are asked not to send a student home with a driver who is visibly impaired. The catechist should contact the Director of Religious Education, who reserves the right to call an emergency number. MEDICATION POLICY Catechists do not administer any medication. NO FOOD POLICY To keep the school clean and to protect children who have food allergies, children/catechists attending Religious Education classes are not allowed to eat inside St. Ann School. Any snacks must be finished before entering the building. Water bottles are not permitted. Water fountains are available inside the school. Please alert Director of Religious Education of any medical necessity that would be considered an exception to the above policy. NO GUM CHEWING or SNACKS ALLOWED. 9

10 TREATS There are children in our program with life threatening food allergies. To avoid any type of medical emergency, there is to be NO FOOD OR DRINK during PREP classes stated by Diocesan Policy. SCHOOL PROPERTY St. Ann School is our parish school, for our parochial students who attend daily, and for students in our Religious Education Program. Every effort is to be made to respect the school property and the property of the teachers and children who utilize the building on a daily basis. (Classrooms, hallways and bathrooms) Disrespect of property by students is a serious offense and will have serious consequences, including, but not limited to, suspension from the program. STUDENT CELL PHONE USAGE Diocesan Policy for Parish Religious Education Program Cell phones may be brought to a parish religious education program under the following conditions: 1. Phones must be kept in the OFF position and kept out of sight for the 4entire duration of any and all education activities including, but not limited to classroom instruction, in church, etc. 2. No cell phones may be used for picture taking. 3. No harassment or threatening of persons via the cell phone is permitted. 4. Cell phones may not be used for game playing, internet or access or conversations, gambling or making purchases of any kind. 5. No pagers or other communications devices are allowed. (Including IPODS) 6. Those who violate any of the rules regarding cell phones will forfeit their privileges of bringing them to school. 7. If a student abuses the rules he or she will loose the right to bring their cell phone to PREP. 10

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