Most parents will have no problem recollecting the time when they held their small child in their hands and brought them to their baptism. It was more than likely a very special time- choosing godparents, inviting family members and even choosing a special white garment for the child to wear. The Sacrament of Baptism is such a beautiful sacrament. From start to finish the sacrament engages not only our hearts but our hopes with deep symbolism that touches every one of our senses. One of the prominent parts of a child’s baptism that can sometimes be overlooked because of the majesty of the sacrament is a promise that is made. That promise? Namely, to do your very best to raise that child in the faith. Parents, as the first catechist of their child, are responsible for this faith education and it can happen in many ways and in many forms.
We are very proud at Saint Peter’s to offer a Parish School of Religion program for our youth to help parents fulfill this promise. Parish School of Religion, or PSR, is a weekly faith education program that follows the Diocesan Course of Study. Meeting from September to April, the program offers programming for young people from preschool to seniors in high school. We also offer specialized catechism for those with special needs, and work with our young people in groups and, when the situation dictates it individually, to make sure that each child is well educated not only in their faith but well prepared to receive their sacraments at the appropriate times.
The curriculum used for PSR is based on the Diocesan Course of Study. Throughout each grade level, students have the opportunity to have a thorough understanding of their faith based on the topics that are presented.
Our first grade class focuses not only on objects used in faith such as the Bible and Rosary, but also on feasts of the Church and why we celebrate them.
The second grade spends a copious amount of their time learning more deeply about the sacraments of Baptism and Reconciliation in order to prepare themselves for the Eucharist. In addition to their focus on those sacraments, they also spend time learning more about the Word of God and how He communicates to us.
The third grade takes a comprehensive look at Church itself, learning that the Church is a living institution! This is done through identifying different figures within the Church and their various roles, and also understanding different parts of the liturgical year and how our celebrations reflect that. The Third Grade also takes a detailed look at the Mass itself, understanding the different parts and significance of “what we do” while at Mass.
Our fourth grade class starts their in-depth look at morality, understanding where our moral compass should point as Catholics and the tools to help us make decisions such as the Works of Mercy, the Commandments and our conscience. In addition they look at the Old Testament teachings as a way to understand our call as Catholics in this modern world.
The primary focus of Fifth Grade is taking a deep look into the sacraments and how they are incorporated into our lives with a special emphasis on the Eucharistic Sacrifice and our call to participation at Mass.
The sixth grade’s basic focus is learning more about Old Testament History and where our roots began as Catholics. Integrated into that year are teachings on morality as well as a beginning look at the Catholic Social Teachings and our obligations as Catholics.
Our seventh and eighth Graders focus on Church history and come to a very deep understanding of scripture and how to understand what God is revealing to us through this divinely inspired text. They do this through a variety of a resources but are learning to understand that the story of God cannot be separated merely by what was “old” and what is “new” but instead what has created our present.
What we see in our program are very dedicated parents and families who absolutely put the faith of their children first. In a society where so many other activities and things could easily take precedence, these families understand the inherent value in helping their children to know God, to serve God and most importantly, to love God. They understand, as it is stated in Proverbs, “Train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not swerve from it.”