Parent Handbook

2016-17 Faith Formation Year Parent Handbook


Faith Formation: So What Happened to Religious Ed (CCD)?

It’s about a shift in thinking. Simply defined… Religious Education gives the facts of the faith. Faith Formation creates faith experiences where the facts meet the heart and soul to awaken a relationship with Christ and His Church. The reality is, faith isn’t taught but rather it is caught. Those animated by living faith, trusting in God are the ones who pass on the faith.

At Saint Gabriel’s Parish we are resourcing you in your commitment to raise your child in the faith by helping to form them – in fact to create spaces for the Holy Spirit to transFORM them into followers of Christ and His Church.  We want our kids to know God and to love Him – for it is what we seek as well. We know it is faith in the Lord that grounds us, gives us a compass to live by and strength for the journey of life.

This starts with you. As the primary catechist we are sending home a great tool to help you – the grade level curriculum that you can break open with your child and discuss as a family. You may find out some things you didn’t know in the process and what began as a ‘lesson’ becomes an opportunity for faith sharing together. Your child learns so much from you so not only through the curriculum but the prayer, the time and the love you share communicates much of how God loves them. They see faith in action through you.

In support, our catechists also help the children to know Christ – they will share their faith stories along with the lessons, share in prayer experiences that your children can then use as a ‘toolbox’ for spiritual growth and support the study of the building blocks of the faith using the curriculum.

(For specific information on grade level formation and/or sacramental preparation, see the schedules for each. CHILDREN SCHEDULES CLICK HERE and YOUTH SCHEDULES CLICK HERE)

Safety and Discipline Go Hand-in-Hand


All our volunteer catechists and staff are VIRTUS trained. In accordance with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People all diocesan employees, clergy, religious, teachers, staff, and all volunteers who regularly or routinely work with children or youth participate in a Protecting God’s Children for Adults (VIRTUS) training session.

Entrances are monitored at all times and in the evenings the doors are locked 10 minutes after the start of each session. All building exits and fire alarms are inspected regularly and in compliance with diocesan guidelines.

Drop Off/Pick Up Policy: Safety is a primary concern when dropping off and picking up your children.

Children PreK – Fifth Grade: Parents must walk the child into the church and sign them in. Parents must also come into the building to pick up their child at the end of the session.

Middle and High School Youth: Youth may be dropped off in the circle but you MUST park your vehicle for pickup. DO NOT PICK UP IN THE CIRCLE. This causes a backup of cars onto Winterpock Road when you wait for your youth to exit the session.


We ask for all attending to follow the “Golden Rule” and treat one another with respect, creating an accepting and open place to share. Behavior that is disrespectful of anyone will not be tolerated.

First Warning – the error will be pointed out and the child will be told not to repeat the behavior.

Second Warning – the child will be moved from their seat to either be seated near a catechist or isolated from others in the room.

Third Warning – the parent will be called to collect the child and will need to accompany the child to the next session to ensure his/her proper behavior.

Note: CELL PHONES ARE PERMITTED BUT MUST NOT BE USED OR SEEN DURING SESSIONS. If it is visible to a catechist it will be taken and the parent must reclaim the cell phone.

Attendance Matters

Faith Formation is held eight times in the year. That means each session is important. We know that children’s schedules get busier and busier, yet you have made faith formation a priority for your family. Please notify the coordinator as soon as you know your child will miss a session due to illness or a family emergency so they can work with you on helping to get your child caught up before the next session.

Is this a Sacramental Year for your Child?

As you discern your child’s readiness for the sacrament, please ensure that their schedule will accommodate both the faith formation and sacramental preparation sessions. If it is too busy of a year for your family it may make more sense to postpone the sacramental preparation process until the necessary time can be devoted to the program.

If your child is preparing to receive First Reconciliation, First Communion or Confirmation this year please know that regular attendance at Faith Formation is as important as the Sacramental Preparation attendance. Missing more than one faith formation session in the year could postpone your child receiving a sacrament.

All sacramental preparation sessions are important and cannot be missed. Again, only illness or an emergency in the family excuses missing a session. A missed session needs to be made up by work at home; the coordinator for the sacrament will let you know the required assignment. If the absence is unexcused, then missing a sacramental preparation session could postpone your child receiving the sacrament.


Family Resources CLICK HERE

Your Catechist Prayer

Father of all families,

you have called me to serve the family in truth and love as a catechist. May I be faithful to this call, rooted in your Word, and open to the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

May I use these gifts, especially the gifts of faith, hope, and love,

to serve the family as a witness to you, who are love and life

and the source and destiny of all families.

Let your Spirit enlighten my mind and strengthen my heart

so that I can be a path of Christ’s love to families, especially those in need,

the homebound and aged, the disabled and disheartened.

Through the intercession of Mary and Joseph, I pray for the Church, the Bride of Christ, whose mission to build a civilization of love passes through the family.


Copyright © 2010, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to duplicate this work without adaptation for non-commercial use.