Classes from Kindergarten through ninth grade Confirmation preparation are held in the Ambridge Building adjacent to the Church on Monday afternoons during the academic year. High School seminar classes are on Sunday mornings in Siena Hall. Registration forms and K-9 calendars are available online or in the parish office. High School calendars and semester outlines are distributed by the teacher; classes are on a three year teaching cycle.
Basic texts include Faith and Life (Ignatius Press); New St. Joseph First Communion Catechism: A Picture Book of the Mass; and The New American Catechism, I and II. Faith and Life introduces principal components of catechesis: Creed; Commandments; Sacraments/Liturgy; and Prayer/Scripture. The New American Catechism presents the same material in a succinct format well-suited for memorization. The kindergarten class uses Image of God (Ignatius Press) interactive workbooks.
Our curriculum corresponds to the pillars of The Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1) Profession of Faith (Creed); 2) Sacraments of Faith (Liturgy and Sacraments); 3) Path of Faith (Moral Life and Commandments); and 4) Life of Faith (Prayer and Scripture.) The Sunday Confirmation class uses this Catechism as its primary text, while the post-Confirmation Sunday Seminar syllabus changes on a three year cycle.
Brief Overview, K-8
Kindergarten: Kindergarten: Parish families are encouraged to take advantage of early classroom preparation for first grade. Creative projects are integrated to help focus young minds and bodies, not always an easy task, and augment classroom instruction. Children learn about God and creation; man made in God’s image; choices that please God; and prayer. Children must be at least five years old by September 10th to enroll.
Grade One: Our Heavenly Father. Lessons center on the life of Jesus, the Trinity, and our part in God’s plan of Salvation. Preparation for First Confession and reception of the Eucharist is introduced. Simple prayers and stories from the Old and New Testaments are emphasized, with particular attention paid to knowing, loving, and trusting God. First grade is interactive and project-oriented.
Grade Two: Jesus Our Life. Lessons include the Ten Commandments; God's mercy; our response to God’s gifts; creation; and preparation for Confession in early February and Holy Communion in May. Memory work is introduced, with flash cards and/or prayer sheets provided to encourage parental involvement. Children must be seven years old by September 10. All children who wish to be part of the group First Communion Mass in May must register for parish instruction.
Grade Three: Our Life with Jesus. Third grade introduces Biblical themes from Creation to Incarnation that reveal God’s plan as it is plays out in our redemption: the birth of the Church at Pentecost; life in the Church; Confession and Communion; and the foundations for Mass and the Eucharist. Children learn about the Creed, the liturgical year, and the lives of the Saints. Material introduced in second grade is reinforced and expanded. A third grader who has not made his/her First Holy Communions is asked to enroll in the second grade class.
Grade Four: Jesus Our Guide. Children at this developmental stage are ready for a more mature understanding of the Bible through increased familiarity with the Old and New Testaments. In addition to “Bible facts,” the fourth grade curriculum encourages love for God’s Word, his Law and his Church, and a deeper understanding of Jesus as our guide in this life to life eternal. Since it has been two years since most have made their First Confessions, this is an excellent time to review the Commandments and introduce the Beatitudes as a more mature understanding of repentance and forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Through the Gospel, children discover that it is not only in the teachings of Jesus, our guide, but in the person of Christ that is found the sure and steady “rock” upon which Christian life is grounded. Miracles and parables are introduced, and it is useful if students have access to a bible at home.
Grade Five: Credo: I Believe. As the articles of the Creed are the basic belief of our faith, fifth grade students should begin to demonstrate fuller comprehension of what they proclaim, a deeper understanding of the centrality of the New Testament, and a good grasp on key concepts in the Gospels. This year is also an important opportunity to review material covered the previous two years as students complete Book I of the New American Catechism. As the Creed will be covered in greater depth in eighth and ninth grades, this is a good opportunity to review basic concepts and introduce new memorization in preparation for increased expectations in grade six. Students will receive a list of sixth grade memory work at the conclusion of the year.
Grade Six: Following Christ. Our theme is love: for neighbor, for the law of God, and for the presence of Christ in the Holy Mass. We discuss the relationship between God's law and the grace that helps us fulfill it. Central to this year is a closer examination of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as the source and summit of our faith. Memorization is an important component of study, so it is important that parents keep abreast of memory work assigned and encourage their children at home. The completion of sixth grade marks an important transition from elementary to middle school. A “benchmark” test at the close of the year assists the 7th and 8th grade teachers; a similar assessment at the end of this 8th grade pre-Confirmation year is shared with the 9th grade Confirmation teacher. Quizzes may be given periodically to reinforce material presented in class.
Grade Seven: The Life of Grace. Lessons concentrate on the transmission of grace through the sacramental system. In addition, we hope to help students articulate a more mature understanding of revelation, the Incarnation, and the Church. The Commandments have been taught as a basic guide for the examination of conscience; this year, the role of grace in developing the virtues is presented as a foundation of moral life. This year introduces reason and faith, decisions, and the meaning and importance of an informed conscience. Grade 7 is an important transition year and an opportunity to address emerging challenges in the lives of teens and pre-teens.
Grade Eight: Our Life in the Church. This pre-Confirmation year centers on the Church’s founding by Christ and birth in the Holy Spirit as One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. Students learn more about the Fathers and Doctors of the Church; Saints and the role of the religious and laity; the hierarchical structure, and the role of the Magisterium. After completion of Grade 8 when students “graduate” to Confirmation preparation, they should already be familiar with basic prayers and church teaching. A benchmark quiz at the end of the year is a useful assessment tool for the Confirmation teacher next fall. Grade 8 is considered a pre-Confirmation year; students are encouraged to register.
High School: The text for ninth grade Confirmation is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Incoming sophomores who have not been confirmed will join the freshman for this class, held Sunday mornings between the Masses at 9 and 11 am. Confirmed teens are invited to register for the Sunday Seminar series, also between the Masses on Sundays. That class directly confronts the new challenges faced by high school students, and the importance of solid apologetics and the moral life in facing those challenges.