Religious Education Attendance Policy
Beginning in the 2016-2017 PREP year, students were required to attend PREP, Sunday Youth Ministry, and Confirmation preparation (if applicable) to receive the sacraments of First Communion, First Confession, and Confirmation. This page explains why we have this attendance policy, details the policy and how to go about making up materials covered at a class you may have missed, discusses PREP, Sunday Youth Ministry, and Confirmation preparation attendance regarding sacramental preparation, and goes over special circumstances in which PREP, Sunday Youth Ministry, or Confirmation preparation attendance is significantly hindered or impossible.
Why We Have An Attendance Policy
In short, this attendance policy is meant to address conflicts that arise with attendance at PREP, Sunday Youth Ministry, or Confirmation. Sundays sometimes include multiple commitments for families, and it can be difficult to choose one over the other. The attendance policy seeks to reconcile this conflict. Here is the mindset for the attendance policy.
First, attendance at these classes is important in a child’s faith formation. While PREP and Sunday Youth Ministry is secondary to the faith formation happening at home, it does provide kids the chance to interact with the church community and establish ties with fellow parishioners that will last even after graduation. Very significantly, though, PREP and Sunday Youth Ministry provides a more in-depth, detailed education in Catholic theological concepts.
The problem is that parish religious education programs, like PREP and Sunday Youth Ministry, have a very limited time frame to impart that knowledge and provide that experience of church community. Programs generally meet for an hour or so every Sunday throughout the school year. This amounts to around 35 hours of religious education a year—the equivalent of one school week! That means, upon graduating, a senior who has gone through PREP and Sunday Youth Ministry every year beginning in kindergarten has the equivalent of one semester (13 weeks) of religious education. No one would ever send their children into the world with only one semester’s worth of education in math, science, reading, writing, or social studies. But that’s exactly what we do in religious education, because of our time constraints.
However, other family commitments can’t be dropped just because of PREP and Sunday Youth Ministry. Sometimes it’s a vacation, a family wedding, a kid gets sick, or maybe parents can’t get kids to PREP or Sunday Youth Ministry because of work.
The attendance policy is an attempt to reconcile the conflict between PREP, Sunday Youth Ministry, Confirmation preparation, and other commitments. It provides a way for kids to still learn the content they missed on the days they are absent, and in doing so, the kids are counted present for the day they missed.
How the Attendance Policy Works
All students enrolled in PREP, Sunday Youth Ministry, or Confirmation preparation are required to be present at each class offered. If, for a legitimate reason, they can't attend class, either the student or their parents should notify the catechist of the coming absence. If the absence is unexpected, the student or their parents are asked to communicate with the catechist about the absence as soon as possible.
Upon learning of the absence, the catechist will put together materials for the student to take home. The student will study the materials at home; parents may assist them in their study. Once the student has sufficiently studied the material, they'll meet briefly with the catechist. This is so that the catechist can verify that the student learned the materials they gave the student. If the catechist feels the student has sufficiently studied the material, they will make a note of it in their attendance record, and the student will be counted as present for the day they missed. The catechist can decide to have the student meet with the CRE instead. If the student is in Sunday Youth Ministry or Confirmation preparation, they can complete the make up work by clicking here.
The material sent home with the student, and the way the catechist verifies the student learned the material is determined by the catechist. A catechist might just have a short conversation with the student, give them a short quiz, or ask certain questions about the material. The catechist is free to implement their own policies regarding make-up work as they see fit for particular situations.
Attendance and Sacramental Preparation
Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, students who wish to be enrolled in sacramental preparation must be present at PREP and Sunday Youth Ministry the entire year for the years prior to and during their sacramental year.
This policy is implemented because sacramental preparation classes are not sufficient for a child's religious education. The scope of these classes is limited to more of a sacramental theology, which means they don't sufficiently teach students about other Christian concepts, like discipleship, morality, the Church, and social justice.
If a student wishes to receive the sacraments, they must attend PREP or Sunday Youth Ministry every day it's offered, or complete the make-up work for days missed, from the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year up to and through the year they will receive their final sacrament. So, for example, a first grader this year will be required to attend PREP this year and next year to receive First Communion and First Confession in second grade. Should they desire to also receive Confirmation, they will be required to attend PREP and Sunday Youth Ministry every year prior to and during the year they receive Confirmation.
Years previous to the 2016-2017 PREP year are not counted, nor is attendance in preschool classes counted. Only attendance in grades K-10 are required for sacramental preparation. If a student already completed grades prior to the 2016-2017 school year, attendance for those years are not counted nor required. So, for example, a fourth grader in 2017-2018 doesn't need to worry about days they missed in grades K-2 the previous three years, but is responsible for days missed in the 2016-2017 school year.
There’s always exceptions to every rule. If your family finds itself in a special situation, and this attendance policy isn’t helping reconcile the conflict between PREP, Sunday Youth Ministry, Confirmation preparation, and other commitments, contact the CRE so that you and the CRE can work on formulating a plan of action that will be beneficial for your family’s situation.
If a child will be absent from PREP, Sunday Youth Ministry, or Confirmation preparation for an extended period of time throughout the school year, or unable to be present at all, families have the option to homeschool their children. If a student is homeschooled, the CRE will give materials for the student's grade level to the student's parents. They will then go over the material with the student, teaching the material and helping them learn. The parents and student will meet occasionally with the CRE. At the end of the year, if the CRE finds that the student has sufficiently learned the content of the grade level, the student will be considered present the entire year for purposes of the sacramental preparation part of the attendance policy.
If a student enrolls in PREP or Sunday Youth Ministry without much or any prior religious education, they and their parents will meet with the CRE to discuss enrolling the student in PREP and Sunday Youth Ministry, and going over important concepts the student will need to know from the years of religious education they missed. Students who enroll in PREP and Sunday Youth Ministry but attended religious education regularly prior to coming to St. Mary or St. Peter will simply join the next grade level they need to complete.
Any student who desires to receive a sacrament when enrolling in PREP, such as Baptism or First Communion, because they did not attend religious education previously, should contact PJ Ehling to discuss reception and preparation for the sacraments they desire.