There’s lots going on in the Religious Education Office this year, in an attempt to better meet the needs of parish families. Since last fall, our transition team of Fr. Ed Panek, Fr. Gilbert Mashurano, Principal Mary Eileen Ward, RE co-coordinators Michelle Tuchner and Paula St. Louis, and Youth Minister Agnes Knott have met regularly to look at and address issues affecting the religious education program. We’re excited to share some of our work with you:
CONFIRMATION PREP: We have extended and enhanced our Confirmation preparation to align with Archdiocesan requirements that students receive two years of instruction, a retreat, perform community service, and more. RE and SRS students attended the archdiocese’s youth event, Holy Fire, at the UIC Pavilion last fall.
FIRST EUCHARIST PREP: Our second-grade First Eucharist preparation also has grown. First Communicants and their families participated in a First Eucharist Family Event in February, in an attempt to deepen children’s understanding of the sacrament and to bring families from our two youth formation programs together. Thanks to parent feedback, we hope to make this event even better and more meaningful for families next year.
LITURGIES: We added an All-Saints liturgy that parents could attend with their RE students, held a Reconciliation service for junior high students during Lent, third-graders presented a Nativity play during Advent, fifth-graders led the Living Stations of the Cross our last day of RE classes before Holy Week, and we will close the year on Wednesday, April 25, with a prayer service and ice cream social.
CURRICULUM: We are evaluating new books and curriculum to use next year in religion classes in the school and RE program. Once a decision is made, RE catechists and SRS teachers will receive training in how best to implement the curriculum in their classrooms.
CLASS TIMES: We’ve heard from families that the current class times can make it tough for children and catechists to get to RE on time after school, and that many families with older and younger children end up spending hours getting their kids to and from RE classes, often disrupting the family dinner hour. Beginning next year, we hope to let families choose from two Wednesday sessions of RE – 4:45-6 p.m. and 6:30-7:45 p.m. – with at least one class offered in each grade, rather than separating grades 1-5 and grades 6-8. This proposal would let families send all of their children to RE at once, eliminating the separate drop-offs and pickups that junior high families now have, and letting families enjoy their mealtime together.
CATECHIST RECRUITMENT: Beginning this coming school year, we will have two catechists in each classroom. Having two adults per class will help catechists with curriculum planning, scheduling and classroom management. Volunteers can work with a friend or be assigned a partner. Recruitment is under way.
FELLOWSHIP: We sold out our first Bingo Night in February, replacing the annual Religious Education Spaghetti Dinner. Families came between our two RE class sessions, and our junior high students served dinner and emceed the evening. Our next Bingo Night will take place this fall.
Over the summer, we will be busy registering students and assigning them to classes, planning and executing Vacation Bible School the week of July 9-13 – under the volunteer leadership of Brandi Sulak – and setting up curriculum and catechist training for the coming year. Please contact Michelle Tuchner at 847-253-8600, ext. 134, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Paula St. Louis at 847-253-8600, ext 138, email@example.com for more information on any of these projects.