*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.
Contact: Laurie Vitek, DRE ~ firstname.lastname@example.org ~ 770-654-9707
Gina Sherman, RE Assistant ~ email@example.com
PLEASE NOTE: ALL SOR CLASSES, EXCEPT FOR SACRAMENTAL PREP, HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED FOR 2020-21 DUE TO THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK.
Parent Information on School of Religion
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 on catechism and learning to develop a personal relationship with God. 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.
Safe Environment and VIRTUS Training
The Archdiocese of Atlanta created a Safe Environment program for employees and volunteers who work in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. This includes, but is not limited to, school personnel, parish employees, Catholic Center employees, and all volunteers in the Archdiocese, including those in your parish. The Archdiocese of Atlanta strives to empower all its parishes, schools, families, and individuals to create and maintain safe environments for our children and youth. We are committed to comply with Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002. The Charter is a comprehensive set of procedures for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. The Charter also includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability, and prevention of future acts of abuse.
All catechists and volunteers with SOR at St. Paul the Apostle church are trained in the VIRTUS program. We also are compliant with regulations from the Archdiocese of Atlanta in teaching the Touching Safety program to our children. Please see www.archatl.com under Child and Youth Protection for details.
(Please note that the programs below are temporarily postponed because of Covid-19)
We offer 2 sessions for school of religion (SOR), Kindergarten through Year 2 Confirmation, then Youth Group for teens who have received Confirmation. (See home page link, Youth Ministry in the Mountains, for information on our active group!)
Classes: Wednesday (6:30 pm – 7:45 pm) or Sunday (11:00 am – 12:15 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. The Sacrament of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion preparation used the program Blessed by Dynamic Catholic. This is used from younger children and is a one year program. Called To Celebrate – The Eucharist and Reconciliation published by Loyola Press, are also used by older children for Eucharist and Reconciliation prep. For Sacrament of Confirmation, we use the Baltimore catechism, the bible, and other resources. 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.
Check this website home page, bulletin and parish app for information on dates. We begin registration in late summer. 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. All information for religious education, including bad weather cancellations, are posted on this website. Or, call Laurie at 770-654-9707 if you have any questions.
We also have an app available to our parish, called MyParish. We strongly encourage all parents and teen students to sign up. Important notices, events, cancellations and other information is published on the app. Text APP to 88202 to download. Then, select St. Paul the Apostle after opening the app. You will have access to church messages, daily readings, meeting information, the website, and many other kinds of information, all at a fingertip! Much information is in Spanish, too. This is especially helpful for children with reminders for events surrounding sacraments, such as community service hours, rehearsals and retreats. We encourage all parishioners with smart phones to download the app so that you are aware of church activities, cancellations, and other details.
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. This class is offered on Sundays only. 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
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. (Kindergarten does not count as a year toward the sacrament.) 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):
- 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 cards 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 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 or at Hidden Lake in Dahlonega, GA. These are spend-the-night weekends conducted by the LifeTeen ministers, and chaperoned by the teachers.
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.
Parents may wait in the school entry hall for all children to be dismissed. Grades 1-4: 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: 1-2, 3-5, 6-8, and Confirmation Years 1 and 2.
For details on this program, please copy and paste this link into your browser:
FAITH FORMATION FOR ADULTS
RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) – Registration for the year-long 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.
Divorces/Annulments: Please contact Lisa Wade at 706-878-8554
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.
Wednesday Morning Bible Study – All adults are invited to join our Wednesday Morning Bible Study. 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.