The goal of our Faith Formation Program is to help us grow in our faith and Catholic identity so that we may go out and act as disciples, proclaiming the Good News. At St. Patrick, there are 3 tiers of Faith Formation: Faith Formation for children, including Liturgy of the Word with Children, offered at the 9:00 am mass, as well as Faith Formation classes for grades K-8; Youth Ministry for teens in high school, and Adult Faith Formation, offered so that we, as a community, can continue to grow in human and Christian maturity.
There are 634 children enrolled in our Faith Formation Program including the Sacramental Preparation Program. In order to meet diocesan requirements of 25 class hours per year while allotting for holidays and vacations, we offer 4 sessions with 18 classes each. Each class meets for an hour and a half. Families may choose which session best fits into their schedule and it is a first come-first served registration process. The sessions offered include early Sunday morning, Sunday mid-morning, Sunday evening for Middle School students and Monday afternoons, taking into account that if a family registers for a Sunday morning class, they have the opportunity to attend at least 3 of the 5 offered weekend masses. By offering several different sessions, we allow families to work around other obligations such as sports and of course, attend weekly mass. Unfortunately, with so many sessions, we have, at times, a shortage of catechists. Catechists are trained and required to go through rigorous background checks, and starting in 2015, will be required to attend a mandatory 3 class training program given by the diocese. This will be in addition to the current requirement that all catechists maintain their certification by completing at least 14 credits of faith formation throughout the year. We currently have 62dedicated, talented, and caring catechists who share their faith with our children.
There are 361 registered high schoolers in our St. Pat’s Youth Ministry, or SPYM. Our youth ministry program prepares our 9th and 10th grade teens to celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation. This is a retreat based program with mandatory Rites, reflecting on their Catholic faith in addition to at least one yearly service project. Eleventh and Twelfth graders that have been confirmed have the opportunity to live out their faith in many ways such as lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, or as role models and retreat leaders, assisting our younger teens as they journey and deepen their faith while preparing for the sacrament of Confirmation. The Paterson Diocese has determined that teens in our diocese will celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation after two full years of high school preparation. In addition to keeping teens in the Church, it allows for our young adults to grow and mature in their Catholic identity so that when they decide that they will continue their faith journey as adults, they will have the background and ability to really understand the commitment they are making to God and the Church when they are confirmed.
Our Faith Formation program not only addresses the spiritual growth of our children and teens but their cognitive, faith knowledge development. The ACRE Assessment, which has been given the past two years, has provided insight into where the strengths and weaknesses of our children’s and teens’ religious knowledge fall, and we have already implemented many activities to strengthen their faith knowledge retention. These includeinstituting a new curriculum utilizing the Loyola Press Finding God Program, games, and unit reviews and assessments to ensure our children are retaining what they are learning. We are also evaluating our communication system with families and parishioners. Newsletters and parent meetings will be succinct and to the point. We welcome parishioners to assist and share their talents whether it is as a catechist, safety monitor, retreat help, office assistance or even simply by donating food and supplies for different activities.