ST. JAMES FAITH FORMATION FOR CHILDREN
Religious Education Classes held Sundays,
Sept-May at St. James Academy, PreK-8th
Sacrament Preparation available
The St. James Faith Formation for Children (FFC) program supports parents in the faith formation of their children, based upon the belief that parents are their primary educators. Our focus is on the life and mission of Jesus Christ as a basis for a lifelong relationship, and to build a knowledge and reverence for Sacred Scripture. We provide a comprehensive presentation of the Catholic faith and what it means to live our faith.
The Faith Formation for Children program is intended for the children of our parish in grades preschool through 8th who attend schools that do not provide formal religious education.
The St. James FFC program, together with our St. James Academy and our St. Leo Faith Formation for Children (Spanish) program, support parents with the religious education and sacramental preparation needs of the children in our parish.
Religious Education Curriculum
Our program uses grade-level curriculum, Alive in Christ, by Our Sunday Visitor. The curriculum focuses on the life and mission of Jesus Christ, to establish a basis for a lifelong relationship with Jesus. It builds a knowledge and reverence for Sacred Scripture, while providing a comprehensive presentation of the Catholic faith. Key topics are repeated at each grade level, providing a deeper understanding of the topic at each developmental stage. The lessons prompt children to relate the knowledge of the faith to their own life experiences, as we live, worship, and serve together.
The Family+Faith pages and abundant online family resources provide parents with tools to use at home each week, to support families in applying to their daily lives what their children are learning. (For more information, visit www.aliveinchrist.osv.com.)
Sacrament Preparation (2nd – 8th grade)
For families on the typical path of having their baptized children come to the table of the Lord at the age of reason, our FFC program provides preparation for First Holy Communion in the second grade. Prior to receiving the sacrament, the children prepare for and celebrate First Reconciliation. There is a parent component to the preparation, in that parents are given materials and guidance to work with their children as their primary educator. The Faith Formation children combine with the St. James Academy children to receive their sacraments.
For those families not on the typical path, we do our very best to meet families where they are on their faith journey. We have classes for older children who were baptized in the Church but for whatever reason have not completed their sacraments. These older children prepare for the sacraments at their level, and with similar age peers.
For children who are not baptized, or who were baptized in another Christian faith tradition, we have our RCIA Adapted for Children program, as part of our FFC program. These children prepare to receive all of their sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil.
Special Event: Blessing of the Animals
On the Feast of St. Francis in October, we have a tradition of inviting families to bring their pets to be blessed, to show gratitude to God for His creation. We combine the event with our Knights of Columbus community breakfast, which in turn donates proceeds to charitable programs.
Special Event: Lenten Fair
On the weekend before Ash Wednesday, we hold our much anticipated Lenten Fair. This fair is hosted by the junior high students, who act as guides for small groups of younger children as they move through the booths. Children learn about themes such as prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, and the liturgical days of Lent. Donations from the participating children benefit children’s charities which are chosen by each class.
Also during Lent, the junior high host several younger classes in Stations of the Cross in our prayer garden.
Special Event: Christmas Fair
Our Christmas Fair is a festive event with music, crafts and activities to celebrate the season. It is also a charitable event, with a food drive, a charitable silent auction, and a charitable bake sale. It is a time for all students to gather together as Church, celebrating the birth of our Lord, while remembering those in need.
Junior High Program
Our junior high program consists of 7th and 8th grade students who are deepening their faith as they learn and interact in class, as well as at special events which always offer leadership opportunities. The junior high students shepherd the younger students during the Blessing of the Animals, the Christmas and Lenten Fairs, and during a church tour and Stations of the Cross. The teens learn the joy of service and leadership within their faith. The younger children look up to the teens as an example of practicing the faith.
One outreach program that the junior high participates in is Baking Cookies for the Kairos prison ministry. After hearing about the program from prison ministry participants, the children bake together in our parish hall, producing up to 20% of our parish total of cookies baked for the Kairos weekend.
High School Teen Aide Team
Many graduates of our program are interested in continuing to help with Faith Formation into high school. We have a Teen Aide Team of high school students who aide in Sunday classes and help at special events. These students show the leadership and faith-filled character needed in our future generations.
Our Faith Formation program exists because of the dedicated team of volunteers. Our catechists are parishioners who have committed their time and talents for this worthwhile ministry. Some have or have had children in the program, and most return year after year. We offer training for our catechists at both the parish and diocesan levels. Our catechists are supported by parents and teens who volunteer as aides in our classroom. Still other volunteers help out with administrative duties or special events. Our volunteers make our program what it is.