Holy Family Parish has switched to an all Family Faith Formation model. For 2017, we have organized all eligible parish families into one of four groups. The groups meet once a month in a unique mix of faith-building activity that includes fellowship, a family meal, age-level instruction, plenary presentations by parish clergy, prayer and more. The teen retreat group The Theophany Center plays a key role in this new model, along with our usual generous corps of volunteer catechists and parish pastoral team members.
One of our most important jobs as a parish community is to pass on our faith tradition to the next generation. Holy Family Parish has developed a comprehensive religious education program designed not just to prepare children for receiving the sacraments, but to prepare their parents at the same time for a life as fully engaged members of the Catholic community.
We believe that religious instruction is not simply the job of teachers; it should incorporate parents, extended families, and the parish community at large. We aim to provide a formation experience for children that introduces them to the teachings of the church, the value of service to others, the splendor of the Bible and the life of prayer, and the importance of community both within the parish and in our larger neighborhood.
Registration is now open as we prepare for the opening of our new year in January 2017. As Family Faith Formation is a continuous process, we will receive applications again in the spring as natural attrition takes place.
Click on the above image to see our 2017 schedule. Our program runs once a month throughout the year.
As you can see, sessions are held at a variety of days, times and either at the Sacred Heart location or the Ss. Peter and Paul Byzantine Catholic Church, on Hamilton St.
Generally, students should enter the first stage at the same time they enter first grade and complete their instruction at the time they graduate from eighth grade. We understand, however, that this model doesn’t work for every family, and getting a late start doesn’t mean your child won’t be welcome in our program. Please feel free to contact our office to discuss your family’s needs.
Levels 1-2: First Reconciliation/First Communion
Within our family faith context, the faith formation journey for most children begins at the same time that they start attending school. Children in first and second grade are welcome to enroll in Level 1, a classroom instruction program that will introduce them to the basics of the Catholic faith.
The following year they will continue to Level 2, which is designed to prepare them to receive the sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Communion. There is a special 6-week segment for them as they prepare to celebrate these sacraments.
Levels 3-6: Family Faith Formation
The primary catechists for all children are their parents, but sometimes teaching your children about the faith can be difficult-especially if it has been many years since your own faith formation ended. For families with children in grades 3 through 6, Holy Family Parish offers a family formation experience that brings families together to discuss their faith with one another and with other members of the parish. The conversations that begin during these sessions lay the foundation of faith sharing in the home. These sessions offer age-appropriate lessons on the Catholic faith for children along with some useful ways for parents to brush up on their own knowledge of the church’s teaching—not to mention a fun night out for the whole family.
Levels 7-8: Confirmation
The final stage of children’s faith formation begins when students are old enough to enter 7th grade and takes them through the remaining steps of learning what it means to live the Catholic faith in their daily lives. Weekly instruction sessions are supplemented by community service opportunities that give teens hand-on opportunities to live out the gospel call to love their neighbor, putting all that they have learned during their early years of formation into action. At the conclusion of their second year, students will be prepared for confirmation, the final sacrament of initiation in the Catholic Church, with a six-week program. NOTE: Beginning in 2016, we have switched the celebration time for the Sacrament of Confirmation to the fall. We await the exact date from the Bishop’s Office for 2017.
Registration is currently OPEN, but don’t lose time as our sessions begin in late January. We will offer openings at the end of the school year as the natural attrition process takes place. Please feel free to contact Rocio Ramos at the Throop Ave. Center if you should have any questions or concerns regarding the registration fee.
When you do register, please bring a copy of your child’s baptismal certificate, along with any other documentation of sacraments received or religious education programs attended in another parish, when registering your child for classes.
Here is our parent handbook: Handbook 2016 (1)
If your child is old enough to enter religious formation classes but has not yet been baptized, we will still welcome them into our faith formation program. We will gladly work with your family on baptismal preparation in addition to the child’s faith formation classes and will ensure that your child is baptized in time to receive their other sacraments with their class. Please call our office for more information.
As per the requirements of the Diocese of Metuchen, children must receive a minimum of two years of preparation prior to receiving their sacraments.
Students in Level 2 will begin learning the importance of confessing their sins and will be prepared to make their first confession in the winter months. A First Reconciliation service will be scheduled and the date announced at the beginning of the school year. Students are encouraged to continue to receive the sacrament on a regular basis throughout their years of faith formation.
Students who complete Levels 1 and 2 will be ready to receive the Eucharist at the end of their second year. A special Mass will be held outside of class time to mark this important event in the lives of our parish’s children, with the date to be announced at the start of the year. All in the parish are welcome to attend and support our children on this important step in their faith journey.
Students who successfully complete all of the requirements of Levels 7 and 8 will be eligible to receive the sacrament of Confirmation. The date of Confirmation is set each year by the Diocese of Metuchen. If possible, the bishop will visit our parish to celebrate the sacrament; if the bishop’s schedule does not allow him to personally attend he may choose to confer on the pastor the ability to confirm that year’s class.
All members of our parish community are welcome to join in our faith formation efforts. You need not be a theologian or expert on Catholic doctrine—no matter what your level of knowledge about the Catholic faith may be (and you probably know more than you think you do!) we will find a role for you as a volunteer with our program. Getting involved in helping to teach our children is a rewarding experience that ensures our faith tradition lives on and helps to prepare the next generation of leaders at Holy Family Parish. The success of our program is due to the commitment of the adult parishioners who generously serve in this ministry. A typical catechist commitment involves the 20 or so class sessions per year, lesson planning, and occasional catechist meetings. Please contact Msgr. Kerrigan if you are interested in helping with children’s faith formation in some way.
All catechists are required by the Diocese of Metuchen to complete the Protecting God’s Children safe environment training program. (And of course, if you were abused as a minor by a member of the clergy, or anyone representing the church, you can report this violation to law enforcement through the Metuchen Diocese website www.diometuchen.org or call Lawrence Nagle, director of diocesan office of child protection,732-562-2413.)
For more information on this safe training program