Family Faith Formation Program Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions

Please Explain the Family Faith Formation (formerly Religious Education) Program at Old St. Mary’s.

Begun in 1984, the Religious Education Program at Old St. Mary’s offers weekly class instruction in the teachings of the Roman Catholic faith for children in kindergarten through eighth grade.

The program aims to foster the spiritual development of children within the context of family: as a member of his or her own family, as a member of the family of our faith, and as an important member of our parish community.

Our Sunday Faith Formation includes children entering Kindergarten and continuing through 8th grade with young people receiving and preparing for their sacraments. Last school year, 2019-2020, we began dynamic and experiential model of passing on the faith which  involved the whole family.

Classes are taught by dedicated volunteer catechists who are certified or working toward certification through the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Catechist Formation Program.

Materials which are developmentally appropriate and are in conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church are used throughout the program. Interactive instructional approaches are used to involve all the children and to recognize each child’s unique gifts and growth in the faith and the community.


What are the advantages of this model?

The advantage of this model is twofold. First, it allows our Sunday morning youth sessions to move beyond a textbook. It leaves room for hands on activities that help the young people encounter God. It is important for the young people to have opportunities to learn and encounter God both in study and through activity.

The new model allows parents and youth to learn together so that they can unpack the theme as a family at home. This in turn allows us more time for activity-based learning during the class sessions.

The second advantage to the Family Faith Formation model is it supports and empowers parents. This model is designed to give parents the tools and confidence to pass on the faith. Furthermore, this model allows parents to experience community in the parish, find support among fellow Catholic parents, and learn, experience, and grow in their own faith along with their children.


How much involvement is required of the family?

Families are the cornerstone of Old St. Mary’s program because family involvement is essential for a child’s spiritual development.

A national study on youth and religion overwhelmingly concluded that “The single most important influence on the religious and spiritual lives of young people is their parents.”.

Parents will attend a monthly session (6 sessions per year) with their children. Sessions will take place in our gym. Families will further unpack the theme of the month at home as a family.

Remaining sessions for the month will take place with youth in their classrooms. The youth sessions will allow the young people to share how their own family is unpacking the theme and time to do further study and activities that help the youth to encounter God.

Classes are scheduled on Sunday mornings to accommodate family attendance at Mass before or after class.

Family Faith Formation requires that a parent/guardian must accompany youth participants to the family session on the 1st Sunday of each month and complete the follow up activity at home.

Please keep our Mass and class schedules in mind when deciding whether to sign your child up for sports or other activities that take place on Sunday mornings. The Faith Formation class schedule is posted on our website when we get closer to the start of the school season.

When you register your child you are saying that you understand that your child’s/children’s participation in the Old St. Mary’s Faith Formation Ministry depends upon my willingness to make a spiritual commitment to my child’s/children’s religious formation and a financial commitment to pay tuition and other related fees or volunteer on Sunday’s in lieu of fees.


What do I need to do so my child can receive the sacraments of First Communion or Confirmation?

a. Reconciliation and Eucharist

Children should be enrolled in religious education classes beginning with kindergarten. Kindergarten and first grade classes lay the foundation for their preparation for the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist. A class attendance rate of 85% is expected for all children preparing to receive these sacraments. Regular Mass attendance and participation is an important part of their preparation. A copy of their Certificate of Baptism must be provided for our records upon registration. You can upload a copy of the Certificate of Baptism with the submission of the online Enrollment Form.

Children must regularly attend classes beginning in September in order to be eligible to receive First Reconciliation and First Eucharist the following spring. (First Reconciliation is during Lent; First Eucharist is usually celebrated during the month of May.) For exceptions to this policy, please contact the Director of Lifelong Faith Formation.

b. Confirmation

Students in seventh and eighth grades may enroll in our two-year program to prepare for Confirmation. An attendance rate of 85% is expected for all children preparing for this sacrament. Regular Mass attendance and participation is an important part of their preparation. A copy of their Certificate of Baptism must be provided for our records upon registration. You can upload a copy of the Certificate of Baptism with the submission of the online Enrollment Form.

The confirmation program covers Liturgy, Creed, Prayer, Discipleship, and Morality. The students are required to participate in parish and community service (a minimum of 15 hours) as part of their commitment to discipleship.

Please note: Archdiocesan guidelines require two years of Faith formation before a child can receive the sacraments.


Do I need to be a registered parishioner for my child to be enrolled in the family faith formation (religious education) program?

Families who enroll their children are encouraged to register in the parish, but it is not mandatory.


What is the cost of the Family Faith Formation Program?
  • The general enrollment fee is $300 for one child and $150 for each additional child in the same family.
  • The Sacrament Fee which covers both First Reconciliation and First Communion is $40.
  • The Sacrament Fee for children preparing for Confirmation is $80.

50% of tuition is due by the first class date and the balance by November 1st. As the bulk of the materials are purchased in August, there are no refunds after the first day of class.

PLEASE NOTE IN LIEU OF FEES:

Few programs pay for themselves and the Sunday Faith Formation tuition helps defray cost of books and materials.  In lieu of tuition, parents are invited to make an in-kind donation of their time and talent to the youth formation ministries.

For the 2020-2021 school year, we are in need of catechists for various grades as well as for our Liturgy of the Word for Children (LOWC) program.  The time commitment for Kindergarten through 8th grade is approximately 90 minutes for 3 Sunday’s per month.

The LOWC program requires one hour 3 times per month. The LOWC program is a service that can be done as whole family.

To learn more contact Maryellen Harrington, Director of Lifelong Faith Formation at mharrington@oldstmarys.com


How do I submit my payment?

After submitting the online registration form return here and make your payment by clicking on PAY NOW This will take you to Give Central.

If paying by check or money order, please make them payable to Old St. Mary’s Church. Place FAITH FORMATION in the memo field.
Please note the fees can be adjusted for situations of financial hardship. Please speak with the Director for Lifelong Faith Formation.


When do classes begin?

Click the following link for the schedule of Faith Formation classes and activities. 2020/2021 Faith Formation Calendar


How do I register my child(ren) for Family Faith Formation classes?

To register your child(ren) for Family Faith Formation classes, please click here to complete the Family Faith Formation Registration form.  Faith Formation Registration Form


If my child was in the Faith Formation program last year, do I still need to complete a Registration form for the upcoming year?

Yes. A registration form needs to be completed to enroll your child in Family Faith Formation classes.


If I pay the registration fee(s) and then withdraw my child(ren), will I get a refund?

50% of tuition is due by the first date of class. As the bulk of the materials are purchased in August, there are no refunds to families who withdraw their child(ren) after the first day of class.   Letters for transfers will be issued upon payment of any monies due.


Is there a program for pre-school age children?

Liturgy of the Word for Children is offered on the Sunday mornings when classes are in session to give small children (preschool to 3rd grade) an opportunity to hear the word of God in age-appropriate language. The children rejoin the assembly at the conclusion of the homily.