WELCOME- OUR FAITH FORMATION TEAM. Parish Catechetical Leader. Administrative Assistant OUR OFFICE

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1 WELCOME- Welcome to the children s Faith Formation Process here at St. Robert Bellarmine Parish and thank you for choosing our parish to journey with you as you mentor your child into our Catholic Christian faith. This handbook has been developed to provide information regarding our faith formation process, procedures and requirements. Please review the contents of this handbook with the child/ children in your household who is /are enrolled in our faith formation process, and where applicable, your childcare provider. Communication and collaboration is essential to the success of the formation process. If at any time you are in need of additional information on these or any other topic pertaining to your student(s), family, or the faith formation process offered please feel free to contact the parish Faith Formation Office at : or via at Statements in this handbook are subject to amendment with or without notice. The Faith Formation Team will attempt to keep you informed of all changes as soon as practical, however, some changes might be made immediately due to unforeseen circumstances. FAITH FORMATION FOR CHILDREN - MISSION The Faith Formation for Children process is designed to support parent s efforts to mentor their child into living our faith by inviting our young disciples to discover and grow their relationship with Jesus Christ in order to live more fully our Catholic Christian faith OUR FAITH FORMATION TEAM Reverend Neil Fackler Pastor Damary Madera Administrative Assistant MaryEllen Casselman Parish Catechetical Leader Parish Catechist Team OUR OFFICE St. Robert Bellarmine Parish Faith Formation Office 4646 N. Austin Avenue Chicago, IL Phone: Fax: Website: faith

2 ADMISSIONS, REGISTRATION, TUITION AND FEES Admission The St. Robert Bellarmine Parish Faith Formation for Children process does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, nationality or ethnic origin in the administration of its policies, supplementary programs or any other program-based functions. The admission of students to the St. Robert Bellarmine Parish Faith Formation for Children process follows the order of priority set forth by the Archdiocese of Chicago: 1. Children of registered parishioners: Children from families with children already enrolled in the SRB- Faith Formation Process Children now reaching school age Children transferring from the parish school Children from families newly moved into the parish 2. Children of non-registered parishioners: Children from families with children already enrolled in the SRB-Faith Formation Process Children now reaching school age Other children seeking to enroll Registration Each spring, parents wishing to enroll their child in our Faith Formation for Children process will be required to complete the registration documents for the upcoming fall sessions. This includes families currently enrolled. Registration for returning families opens on May 1 st and remains open through September 30th. Returning families re-enrolling between May 1 and May 31 receive an Early Bird Discount. Registration documents are located on the Faith Formation page of the St. Robert Bellarmine Parish website: Enrollment for new families to our parish programs will begin June 1st and will remain open until September 30th. All registrations received after September 1 st will be subject to a waitlist. PLEASE NOTE: In an attempt to provide a quality experience for our children each of our Faith Formation for Children Levels are designed to accommodate no more than 10 disciples (students) for a single catechist; and no more than 15 students for a team of two catechists. Registering on time helps to ensure an accurate number of catechists are recruited and trained. 2

3 Tuition and Fees Tuition is charged on a per family basis. At the time of registration a minimum of 1/3 of the projected tuition is due. Any remaining balance will be collected through partial payments collected in August, September and November of that program year. REGISTRATION FOR THE NEXT FORMATION YEAR WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED IF THERE IS AN OUTSTANDING TUITION BALANCE. Families with disciples entering Year II of preparations for reception of a Sacrament are asked to pay an additional fee, indicated on the registration form, which covers the expenses for those preparation events. If at any time a financial hardship develops, please contact us at the SRB-Faith Formation Office. Full or partial scholarships are available for qualifying families. All scholarship requests are kept strictly confidential. =================================================================== FAITH FORMATION for CHILDREN SESSION INFORMATION ARRIVAL- (9:20-9:40AM) Grades 1-8 Two Saturdays per month (September through April) St. Robert Bellarmine School Eastwood Avenue (courtyard entrance) All students participating in our Faith Formation for Children sessions should enter via the south courtyard doors on Eastwood Avenue. Doors will open at 9:20am and remain open until 9:40am. Upon arrival Disciples (students) will sign in at the Check In desk BEFORE proceeding to their assigned room. Parents wishing to escort their child to their assigned room will be required to sign in when they enter the building as well as sign out when they depart the building. Disciples who arrive after 9:40am will enter via the same courtyard doors on Eastwood Avenue but will need to knock for admittance and sign in at the Check In desk BEFORE proceeding to their assigned room. DISMISSAL- (11:30AM) Students in grades 1 & 2 will be escorted by their catechist and dismissed from the main doors on Eastwood Avenue. Parents need to make direct contact with the catechist before a child will be released. Disciples (students) in grades 3-8 will be dismissed from the courtyard doors. 3

4 Any student remaining 10 minutes after dismissal will be escorted to the Rectory Office located behind St. Robert Bellarmine Parish School building by the parish catechetical leader, for their parent to pick them up. Parents are asked to notify the Faith Formation office in writing if their child has permission to walk home after class. Once a student leaves the parish grounds, they are the responsibility of their parent/guardian. At no time is a volunteer or parish staff person to give a student a ride home, unless stipulated by the student s parent/guardian in writing and in advance. Early Dismissals If your disciple/ child must leave class before the scheduled end time, please send a written note of explanation to be given to the Check In desk attendant, who will notify the catechist. For safety reasons, no child will be excused from class without a written notification from the student s parent/guardian. Parent of children seeking early dismissal from class will need to come into the building to sign out their child at the Check In Desk. ATTENDANCE/ABSENCE It is important that all children enrolled in the parish s Faith Formation for Children attend each of their sessions. Students are to arrive on time and remain for the entire length of their session. If your child will not be present due to illness, or due to an emergency it is vital that you notify the parish Faith Formation Office (773) prior to the start the Faith Formation session. To ensure the safety and well- being of our disciples (students), the Check In attendant on duty will contact all parents of disciples (children) who are scheduled to participate in our Faith Formation session but are not present and have not been called in as absent. Given our Faith Formation for children sessions gather only twice a month, parents will be responsible for ensuring the materials missed due to an absence are completed at home and submitted to the SRB-Faith Formation Office next scheduled formation session date. 4

5 CODE OF CONDUCT Code of Conduct for Our Disciples The St. Robert Bellarmine Faith Formation for Children process strives to provide an environment that affords disciples (students) the opportunity to explore, expand, and deepen their own spiritual growth as well as their knowledge of our Catholic faith. For this to occur, we have established the following student code of conduct: Each disciple (student) is expected to: display good conduct both during our sessions and when arriving or departing be prepared for their session by completing any assignments and bringing any items required by their catechist for that day s presentation cooperate and participate with their fellow classmates during activities and discussions be attentive by actively listening to their catechist and classmates show courtesy and respect to all treat their session room and the materials in their room with care and respect PLEASE NOTE: Disciples (students) enrolled in the St Robert Bellarmine Faith Formation process share space with children enrolled in the Parish School; therefore, all disciples (students) are expected to respect the space and the materials within that space. Discipline Policy Any disciple (student) who does not adhere to the above Disciple code of conduct will be subjected to the following disciple policy: 1 offense: the catechist will INVITE THE DISCIPLE TO STEP OUT OF CLASS allowing the st disciple/student an opportunity to regain control of their behavior. WHEN THE Disciple IS READY they will be invited back into the group. 2 offense: the catechist will repeat action for 1 offense and also notify the disciple s nd st parent and the parish catechetical leader regarding the inappropriate behavior 3 offense: the catechist will send disciple/student to the parish catechetical leader with rd note regarding disciple s /student s inappropriate behavior. The parish catechetical leader will hold a conference with disciple/ student and theirs parents regarding situation On the occasion that a catechist finds it necessary to ask a disciple to leave their room, the disciple/student will be sent to the Check In desk at the entrance of the building. Parents will be contacted to pick up their disciple /student. The parish catechetical leader will set up a conference with the disciple/ student and their parents to determine if an alternate formation plan is a better option for the disciple/ student. Offensive behavior will be documented and retained in the disciple s/student s permanent file located in the parish Faith Formation office. 5

6 COMMUNICATIONS/ SOCIAL MEDIA Website/Face Book St. Robert Bellarmine s Faith Formation Office is striving to communicate information more effective and efficiently by posting all program information on our parish website located at: Descriptions of our parish s Faith Formation and Sacrament Preparation for Children processes, as well as information regarding registration, upcoming events, and how to contact us will be posted on our parish website and Face-book page. Enrolled parents will be linked to our SRB-Faith Formation Parent Group on Face-book which will provide detailed communications regarding formation session updates, session and event dates, living the faith at home suggestions, parent resource links and more. The Parish Bulletin Each week our parish published a bulletin, which is distributed at each of our weekend masses with information on Faith Formation for Children events, and celebrations. The Parish bulletin is also posted on the parish website each week. Text Messaging /Voice Mail System The SRB-Faith Formation Office will utilize text messaging and / or an automated voice mail system to relay important messages and reminders to families enrolled in one of our parish programs. Please note that the office phone number will not be displayed when this system is engaged, however, the opening of the message announces the call coming from our office. Electronic Mail The SRB-Faith Formation Office sends a vast majority of our communications via electronic mail systems. Please be sure to adjust your SPAM to accept messages from our office to be received into your account. Please notify the office with the address you check most often and notify us of any changes to your address during the year. TRAFFIC PROCEDURE Traffic: Arrivals Drivers should use the north side of Eastwood Avenue in order to drop off students in front of the parish school building. Students should exit their vehicle on the curbside only!!! 6

7 Drivers who use the south side of Eastwood Avenue should escort their student(s) across the street and safely to the curb on the north side or use the parish parking lot. No child should cross Eastwood Avenue without an adult Traffic Policy: Departures Drivers are asked to utilize the parish parking lot on the east side of school building to park and walk over to pick up their student. Drivers may utilize the curb side pick- up lane along the north side of Eastwood Avenue. Drivers who park on the south side of Eastwood Avenue are to escort their disciple across Eastwood Avenue. Again, no child should cross Eastwood Avenue without an adult. Double parking is not permitted at any time nor should anyone pick up a student from the middle of the street. SRB FAITH FORMATION OFFICE UPHOLDS THE FOLLOWING POLICIES: ADULT VOLUNTEERS It is a tremendous honor to be invited to be part of your family s faith journey, an honor that also carriers a great responsibility for demonstrating how to live this Catholic faith to the children of our parish. Meeting many of the basic needs for our parish Faith Formation for children is becoming more and more challenging. All of our Faith Formation sessions and events are staffed by adults in our parish who volunteer their time and talents for the benefit of our children s faith development. By volunteering your time and talents you will be demonstrating to our children how important their faith development is to all the adults of our parish. Your volunteering will not only be an example to our children of how to put your faith into action, but you will also be strengthening the faith formation community by building relationships with other adults within this process and within the parish. There is a vast array of opportunities especially for parents to be involved. Each family is asked to volunteer in at least one of the areas of need for their child/children Faith Formation. The registration packet lists the areas of need that exist and will give a description of the tasks associated. Your consideration of these vital volunteer opportunities is greatly appreciated. IMPORTANT: All adults who volunteer in any capacity that involves direct interaction with the children enrolled in our parish faith formation or sacrament preparation programs, or any parish ministry that serves children, are expected to: complete an online background check with the Archdiocese of Chicago, uphold the Archdiocesan Code of Conduct for Adult Volunteers, submit an annual Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking Form for the Department of Children and Family Services completed a one-time online Mandated Reporter training, 7

8 attend a Virtus training session for adults All adult volunteers working with children have a confidential file kept in the St. Robert Bellarmine Parish Faith Formation Office. CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT The Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act requires the St. Robert Bellarmine staff and Faith Formation for Children Team members to report any suspected cases of abuse or neglect to children enrolled in one of our parish programs. As required by the Archdiocese of Chicago, all parish staff, faith formation staff, and adult volunteers who work with children must undergo a criminal background check and must also be Virtus complaint. Virtus is a program designed to educate adults on identifying predatory behaviors in an effort to protect all of God s children. Each program year, families new to our Faith Formation for Children receive an information packet on Keeping Your Child Safe; this packet was part of the Archdiocesan VIRTUS program. Our parish provides parents with this resource to use at home and will also offer workshops for parents interested to learn more about protecting their children. SRB-Faith Formation for Children incorporates information for children that is age-appropriate during our presentation unit on Moral Living. This presentation is part of our April sessions and begins with our Pinwheel Prayer experience which is held the first Faith Formation session in April. Parents are invited and encouraged to participate with their disciple at this event. CHILD CUSTODY ISSUES If parents of students in the SRB- Faith Formation for Children and /or the Sacrament Preparation process are divorced or separated, the Faith Formation office presumes that both parents have legal access to their child unless one parent provides evidence that he or she has sole custody. If parents cannot agree on custody issues and it interferes with the child s involvement in one of the parish programs, the child may be asked to leave the program. FAMILY/STUDENT RECORDS The SRB-Faith Formation Office maintains a disciple (student) file for every child enrolled in our parish formation processes. All files are confidential. Parents may view their student/family file at any time by contacting the Faith Formation Office at

9 HEALTH AND SAFETY In order to provide a safe and healthy environment for all our students and volunteers it is essential for the SRB- Faith Formation Office to be notified of specific allergies, medical needs and learning challenges that your child may have. Parents/guardians should complete and sign the health and learning needs information section of the registration form. While this information is confidential, it is shared with the adults who have volunteered as catechist and facility parents in order to assist in your child s formation experience. Except in extraordinary circumstances that have been approved by the parish Catechetical Leader, no adult volunteer or staff person will maintain, supervise either taking of nor administration of, any medications to students In the event of sudden illness or accidental injury, every attempt will be made to contact the parent of the student(s) involved. If the parents cannot be reached, the student s emergency medical release form containing the parent s instructions will be used. If emergency treatment is required, the child will be taken to the nearest hospital by ambulance and the SRB Faith Formation Office will notify the child s doctor. An adult will accompany your child until the parent(s) can take over. Students are prohibited from wearing athletic spikes, or roller blades in any of the parish buildings. All sports equipment brought to a SRB Faith Formation session must be left at the Check In desk. =========================================================== SACRAMENT PREPARATION WITHIN Faith Formation All of us come to the Eucharist through our Baptism. It is through this initiation rite that we are connected to the community of faith. This rite also lays the foundation for our participation in the weekly celebration of Eucharist. The ritual of Baptism contains three essential components of what it means to be a member of this community of faith: discipleship to Jesus, membership in the community, and service to others. These three themes are also essential to our understanding of and participation in the celebration of the Eucharist. Sacraments: First Reconciliation and First Communion As we begin this journey together, it is important to think about the role parents play in handing on the faith to their children. Know that our parish will help support you in many ways. It is vital for you to understand that while your child maybe enrolled in either the parish school or parish faith formation process for children, it is you, their parents who have the greatest impact on your child s faith and faith development. How you live your faith at home is crucial to the faith formation of your child. 9

10 Sacrament preparation for First Reconciliation here at St. Robert Bellarmine Parish consists of gatherings that are for parents only to renew their understanding of the sacrament and to begin a meaningful conversation about issues of faith; additional opportunities to continue this conversation will be offered at parish events for adults. These parent gatherings begin at the end of your child s first grade year and will continue into the beginning of their second grade year. There is also a retreat for parents and their child to experience together prior to celebration of the sacrament in December prior to your child s Christmas break. In conjunction with the preparation format outlined above, SRB-Sacrament Preparation for Children also utilizes a preparation book for each of the specific sacrament. Parents and their child use this preparation text at home. Parents receive instructions on how best to use this tool at home during the second parent gathering/workshop and will also receive a monthly E-update with helpful tips and reminders to keep them on track. Sacrament preparation for First Eucharist follows a similar format with one parent gathering and one retreat for children and parents to experience together with the celebration with First Communion being celebrated in early May. Sacraments: Confirmation Preparation begins with Faith Formation in first grade and expands each year as a disciple grows in wisdom and grace. A more intentional preparation to receive this Sacrament begins in grade 7 and continues throughout grade 8. The Confirmation process requires everyone to assist in the formation of the candidates and in the celebration of the sacrament so that Confirmation becomes a meaningful faith experience for the candidates, the family, and the parish community. At the same time, this process aims to equip the candidates with the knowledge and attitudes necessary for the lifelong process of conversion to Christ. Monthly faith group gatherings for candidates and the SRB-Confirmation Preparation team will facilitate this preparation process. Sacraments: Heritage Family Faith Process This process is designed for family with children who have a need to complete their initiation into the Catholic Church through reception of the Sacrament of Baptism, Eucharist, and/or Confirmation at a different time from their peers or in an alternate setting. This process supplements and is supported by our parish Faith Formation for Children and/or our parish school. This process requires two years of FORMAL Faith Formation prior to begin preparing for the reception of the Sacraments. Year One parents and children participate in our Heritage Family 10

11 Faith Process to establish their foundation in faith. Year Two children are able to join their peers within our Faith Formation for Children process while parents continue in the Heritage Family process. Contact the parish Catechetical Leader to discuss your family s specific needs. 11

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