Religious Ed Handbook for Parents

*Note:  This page contains information on all our programs, children and adults.  Scroll down for complete information, or check the links on the right side of this page for other topics.

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Contact:  Laurie Vitek, DRE  ~  saintpauldre@gmail.com  ~  770-654-9707

                  Gina Sherman, RE Assistant  ~  saintpaulgina@gmail.com

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Parent Information on School of Religion

Hello Parents,

It’s a pleasure to work with you on your child’s catechism!

We know that parents are the first catechists for their kids.  We are here to help you make sure your kids receive a complete religious education in their Catholic faith.  Thank you for enrolling all your children in SOR, not just those who need First Communion or Confirmation, every year.  You are welcome to attend class anytime with your child.  This is a good way to see what they are learning.

In our SOR program, we focus a lot on learning to pray.  We learn our Catholic prayers, but children sometimes have trouble understanding personal prayer.  Pray with your children – at the dinner table (or any meal), on the ride to school or other places in the car, or at bedtime.  These are wonderful opportunities to talk about Jesus.  The children learn to pray the Rosary at SOR, too.  They love this prayer about the relationship between Jesus and his beloved Mother.

Helping children develop a strong faith serves them well as they grow up in this hectic, uncertain world.  Parents strive to create a home life where kids feel safe and loved, and developing a prayer life and attending Mass regularly helps a child affirm their growing faith, and become confident in themselves and in God’s love for them.  Coming to SOR classes give them good knowledge of their faith.

If we can help you with anything, please give us a call or drop by the school to see us.  We are happy to help you with any questions or problems that come up.

Program Format

We offer 2 sessions for school of religion (SOR), Kindergarten through Year 2 Confirmation, then Youth Group for teens who have received Confirmation.

Classes:  Wednesday (6:30 pm – 7:45 pm) or Sunday (11:05 am – 12:20 pm); all children must be in the classroom by starting time.  Constant tardiness or absenteeism is monitored and addressed with parents.  If your child will miss several weeks of SOR, please let us know as soon as possible.

Our program is called Finding God, published by Loyola Press.  You can check out information for parents on this program by going online at:  loyolapress.com and clicking on Finding God link.  Or, stop by the school office to look at our books.  Finding God is in compliance with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and approved by the USCCB.

Additional resources are used for sacraments.  Called To Celebrate – The Eucharist and Reconciliation published by Loyola Press, and We Believe – the Sacraments published by Sadlier Press are used for First Holy Communion.  For confirmation, we used the Baltimore catechism, the bible, and other teaching materials.  Guidelines for topics which must by covered are given to us by the Archdiocese of Atlanta.   Other resources approved by the pastor and DRE may also be used.

Registration

This year, we register children on June 25 and July 29 and 30th (please see home page for details).  You can also register online.  There is a fee for each child which covers the cost of books and other supplies.  We keep the fee as low as we can. Details on registration can be seen by clicking on the Registration link on the right side of this page.

If this is the first time your child is in our program, we ask that you bring a copy of their birth certificate and baptism certificate.   If your child needs baptism, please contact the church office at 706-865-4474.

Calendars & Communication

Each family receives an SOR calendar at registration, which shows the class dates, holidays, teaching topics, and other events.  Please keep this calendar handy all year.  We follow the White County school schedule for holidays, but we also consider Habersham County, too.  Bad weather closings are posted on the church website (www.stpaulcleveland.com) by noon of class day.  Or, call Laurie if you have questions.

Parents and older students with cell phones are encouraged to sign up for REMIND texting service, which is very helpful for announcements and other communication.  It takes just a few minutes and we can help you set it up in the office.  This is very helpful for children receiving First Communion or Confirmation.

Enrolling Every Year

It is sad to see many families not bringing their children to Mass or to SOR.  Sometimes families do not register their children for SOR unless they need a sacrament.  It is very important that your children register every year, so that they have a good understanding of the sacraments they are receiving, and continue to learn the Catholic faith.

RCIC – Rite of Christian Initiation for Children

We offer a special class for children ages 10+ who have not received much religious education.  We find that many children only are enrolled when they need a sacrament, and have only a vague idea about what being Catholic means.  This year-long class will catch them up, and they can be placed in their normal grade level the next year.  Teens who need confirmation and haven’t attend SOR before (here or at another parish) must take the RCIC class first, then continue on with the confirmation program.

Sacramental Program Requirements

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The Archdiocese of Atlanta requires that First Communion and Confirmation are offered in a 2 year, consecutive format only. Good attendance is expected in both years.

Attendance:  Missing more than 4 classes in First Communion or Confirmation years could jeopardize your child’s receiving the sacrament.  After 4 absences, the DRE will notify the pastor, and at his discretion, a meeting may be planned with the parent and student.  Please make every effort to have your child at class and on-time, and if a special circumstance comes up, we’ll be glad to help you.  Our goal is to help all our kids receive their sacraments.  If your child must be out of class for an extended period (such as surgery or travel), please inform the DRE right away at 770-654-9707.

First Communion:  Children who have completed the previous year at SOR with good attendance, and are currently enrolled in the second year of SOR, will receive the sacrament in the Spring.  This should be children who have had Grade 1, and are in Grade 2.  Older children must also complete 2 consecutive years of SOR, one of which may be the RCIC class if they are behind.  First Communion children must attend a retreat with parents or godparents.

First Reconciliation (confession):  Children who are ready to receive the sacrament must have their First Reconciliation before the sacrament date.  Students receiving Confirmation can attend confession at retreat or at church.

Confirmation:  This is also a 2 year program, beginning in Grade 9 (which we call Year 1):

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  • Teens must have had SOR classes here or in another parish before enrolling in Year 1 Confirmation; if not, they must attend RCIC class first for one year;
  • Teens must be 15 years old before receiving the sacrament;
  • All students must have 20 hours of community and parish service, or their sacrament is in jeopardy.  We ask for 10 hours in Year 1 and 10 hours in Year 2.  Students are given red folders with all the details they need to complete this assignment, and they are expected to keep track of their hours by themselves.  Students must have excellent attendance (no more than 4 absences) in each confirmation year;
  • Students must attend a weekend retreat in late winter.  We offer the LifeTeen Confirmation Retreat held at Covecrest in Tiger, GA.  These are spend-the-night weekends conducted by the LifeTeen ministers, and chaperoned by the teachers.  The cost of the retreat is approximately $110, and information is given to parents after Christmas.

Tardiness

It is very important to arrive at class on time!  Your child’s teacher has worked hard to prepare lesson plans for that time period, and it is disruptive to have children arriving late.

Dismissal

Parents may wait in the school entry hall for all children to be dismissed.  Grades K-4:  Parents must pick up their children after SOR is over.  They will not be permitted to go into the parking lot unattended.  We want to help your kids stay safe.

Safe Environment Program

 Protecting God’s Children ~ Teaching Touching Safety

All parishes and Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Atlanta are required to present a program on sexual abuse awareness to children registered in programs within the parish. In our parish, the children view an age-appropriate video of approximately 10 minutes, learning some simple rules of what to do and how to react if someone’s touch seems confusing, scary or makes them uncomfortable.  In the teen program, children also learn how to establish good boundaries in friendships and other relationships. The presentations, and follow-up classroom discussion and activities, are simple, straight-forward and non-graphic.  We use no medical terminology.  Private areas of the body are referred to as “the area which your bathing suit covers”.  The presentation is made in one class period.

In early fall, your child will bring home a letter and schedule, an information booklet for parents, and an opt-out form for those who choose not to participate.  If you would like to look at the lesson plan for your child’s grade prior to the presentation, it is available for you.

We will present the information to children on a 4 year cycle, with exceptions made for new students and those changing grades into a different group.  Our cycles are:  K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and Confirmation Years 1 and 2.

For details on this program, please copy and paste this link into your browser:

www.archatl.com/offices/child-and-youth-protection/


FAITH FORMATION FOR ADULTS

RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) – Registration for the 2017-18 session begins in summer.  Please contact Lisa Wade at 706-878-8554.   Check back to this site, watch the bulletin, or our local newspaper for registration information.  We also invite any parishioners who want like to refresh their faith to come participate.  Classes are informal, with a focus on interactive discussion and guest speakers.  There is a fee for RCIA class which covers materials.  Coordinators:  Lisa Wade and Bob Cincotta.

Tuesday Discussion Group – All adults are invited to attend a contemporary issues discussion group; we choose topics from the Georgia Bulletin and other resources. This group meets in the Library of the education center at 10:30.  Anyone adult is welcome to come, no pre-registration necessary.  Coordinator:  Bob Cincotta

Wednesday Morning Bible Study – All adults are invited to join our Wednesday Morning Bible Study, hosted by Marion Conroy. We will have scripture study and discussion, prayers for the sick, DVD viewing and discussion, or other activities. No homework is required, just come as you are. We begin at 10:30 am on 1st, 2nd, and 4th Wednesdays of the month, in the parish hall.