By Dorothy Jaskey and Barb Mendralla
Photos from Viera Zielinski
Catechism – Confraternity of Christian Document (CCD) – Religious Education (RE) – Faith Formation . . . whatever is the correct name . . . it is for children, from Kindergarten through sixth grade, who do not attend Catholic school to learn about the Catholic religion. (Students in grades seven through twelve participate in the Connect Youth program.)
Under the direction of Vera Zielinski, there is a dedicated staff of 55 teachers, 35 teacher aides, 16 hall monitors, 16 office volunteers and 10 substitutes. The office staff consists of Amy Alvarez, Maureen Cubala, Arizbeth Alcaraz, and Terry Majeski. Together they all guide 582 youngsters to live their Catholic Faith.
During the season of Lent, all the classes participate in an almsgiving project to serve others and to make the Lent more meaningful. This year the students will be asked to bring in their coins and dollars which will help fill grocery carts of food for Neighborhood Food Pantries (NFP). Vera urges the students to earn the money by doing chores around their homes, not just ask their parents to give them money.
Along with the lesson in almsgiving, Vera shares how a donation of $5.00 can fill a small grocery cart with food for NFP while the same $5.00 would buy only one children’s meal at a typical fast-food restaurant. The visual comparison between the grocery cart and the children’s meal really hits home with the students, especially when they realize the restaurant meal allows them to eat only one time.
Another activity during Lent is the live Stations of the Cross service for all Faith Formation students and their parents. Since 2011, each fifth grade class has performed the Stations of the Cross, with some students acting out the parts and others narrating the service. The students spend several weeks rehearsing and while they are hesitant at first, they soon get into acting out their roles. Vera shared how powerful the experience is for the students. After portraying Jesus, one student said, “How did Jesus do what He did?”
The Stations of the Cross service will be on Saturday, April 8th, Tuesday, April 11th and Wednesday, April 12th. Watch the Lenten brochure and the weekly bulletin for exact times. Vera emphasized that all parishioners are welcome to attend the program.