To be involved in any of our Religious Education classes or if you have any questions about Religious Education, please contact Patti Reynolds at (616) 459-4662 ext. 1209 or email Patti.
Learning about our faith is a lifelong process. With that thought in mind, the Religious Education Program of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish provides a quality program of Religious Education and Formation for children in 1st grade thru 8th grade, opportunities for parents to be supported in their role as the primary educators of their children, and ongoing education and formation of catechists. Our Parish Religious Education Programs are structured to provide catechetical instruction on the Catholic faith to all parish children who are attending non-Catholic schools. Our programs seek to provide the catechesis and skills for each child to grow and mature in understanding, positive attitudes, and faithful practice of the Catholic faith and most importantly to encourage and model the importance of a deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Through the process of catechetical instruction, we hope to deepen the faith and sense of belonging to the Catholic Church in our children, so that they will be moved to share their time, talent, and treasure in the life of the Church, now and throughout their lives. We strive to assist children in committing themselves to a personal relationship with God characterized by a vigorous sacramental life, a lifelong pattern of prayer, Christian service, and growth in understanding the Catholic faith.
The backbone of our Religious Education program is our staff of dedicated, faith-filled catechists. These catechists, responding to the gifts given to them by God, are committed to passing on our faith to the young people of our parish. We are very grateful to them and make St. Paul’s prayer ours when we pray, “We give thanks to God always for all of you, remember you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ”. ~1 Thes 1:2
Classes meet on Monday evenings during the school year, from mid-September to the beginning of May, in the Saint Thomas School building; 6:15 – 7:30 pm.
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is an approach to the religious formation of children, 3 – 12 years of age. It originated in 1954 with the founding of the children’s center or “atrium” in Rome, Italy. Inspired by Montessori principles of education, it now extends to many other countries worldwide. Atriums can be found in home, parish, and school settings.
The catechesis is based on the conviction that God and the child are in relationship. The child has a deep need to experience and a special capacity to enjoy the presence of God. The task of the adult catechist is to help the child live fully the encounter with God. When helped to do so, this experience becomes formative of the child’s whole person and generates great joy.
Because this program is much different from the traditional model of Religious Education, it is important to be aware of a number of important facts. The Good Shepherd program moves away from the traditional school classroom model; This model of Catechesis happens in a specially prepared environment quite unlike any traditional classroom setting. The curriculum does not employ the use of the usual textbooks, rather the children learn about Scripture, Liturgy and the Sacraments through presentations given by the Catechist with the aid of hands-on materials.
The formation and learning ability of the child participating in the Good Shepherd Program continues to build on the presentations from one week to the next. For this reason, it is imperative that children who participate in the program are present each and every week.
This program meets on Monday nights throughout the school year from 6:15 – 7:30 pm in the lower level of the Ministry Center. Registration is usually in April for the following school year.
Saint Thomas the Apostle Parish offers a warm welcome to persons of all abilities in our Religious Education Program classes. We are committed to working with parents/guardians to make necessary accommodations in programs that will allow your son/daughter to participate as fully as possible in the life of our Church.
Children with disabilities benefit the most when parents and catechists form a partnership. To assist these children in their faith formation, our volunteer catechists need to be informed about their special needs whether they are cognitive, developmental or learning disabilities; physical limitations due to a long-term or even a short-term illness, vision or hearing loss, autism, ADD/ADHD, or emotional challenges.
When informed, our parish catechetical programs have the ability to modify lesson plans or to recruit support personnel. Parents are asked to provide us with all helpful information about each child by completing the individualized student information form before classes begin.
Children with special needs are welcome in our programs. We will work with parents to create a plan utilizing the resources Saint Thomas can reasonably offer. We believe that all members of Christ’s body have gifts to share.
Religious Education Forms to Complete:
Check out the Following Items for More Information:
- Plan for Religious Education Protocol 2021-2022
- Back to Religious Education FAQs 2021
- Religious Education Parent Handbook
- Religious Education Parent Calendar
- Religious Education Cover Letter
- Our Promises to You
- Religious Education Volunteer Opportunities
- Sacrament Preparation Guidelines
- Active Parishioner Definition
- Remind text communication tool