Our mission in religious education is to support the growth of a child’s loving relationship with God and with the community of believers. Our religious education program for children, REACH (Religious Education and Christian Heritage) is a program of Sunday morning class time in conjunction with celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy, the Mass.
The formation of children as Catholic Christians begins in the home with parents. It continues with worship at Mass with the larger community and culminates in classes where children reflect on and learn the stories and teachings of Catholic Christianity. All three are essential.
The REACH Program at St. Jerome’s (Religious Education and Christian Heritage)
Kindergarten children come one Sunday morning a month from 10:15 AM to 11:00 AM, following the 9:15 AM Family Liturgy.
Sunday classes for Grades 1-8 start with the 9:15 AM Family Liturgy of the Mass in the main church with activities and classes following at 10:15 – 11:00 AM in the church classroom building.
Grades 7 and 8 students also attend class Sunday mornings from 10:15 AM to 11:00 AM.
The many volunteers who give their time and talents make the St. Jerome REACH program a success and without whom there would be no program. All families are expected to volunteer for at least one contributing task during the year.
2006-2009 Generations of Faith and Growing In Faith Together
In 2006 the parish tried Generations of Faith (GOF), an all-ages, total-parish religious education program. At St. Jerome’s GOF evolved into a 2007-2009 program exclusively for Grades 4-6 REACH students and their parents and was called GIFT (Growing In Faith Together).
GIFT sessions occurred two to three times each REACH school year and covered a topic in depth over the course of an entire morning. Beginning with a meal for all, both GOF and GIFT used video, music, slides, discussion, dramatizations and hands-on activities to deepen understanding of such topics as Social Justice, the Mass, the Liturgical Year, Advent, Lent, Triduum, and the Gospel of Matthew. Sessions culminated with the Liturgy of the Mass. Even this adaptation of GOF proved unsustainable, however, because the all-parish/all-ages model ideally required all parish religious education – including K-8 REACH, 9-12 TOTAL, First Communion preparation, Confirmation preparation, and RCIA – to be replaced by GOF.
1990-2012 REACH Grades 4-6 Church Hall 10:30 AM Mass
From 1990-2012 Sunday classes for Grades 4-6 started at 9:00 AM in the church classroom building and concluded with a separate liturgy, the REACH 10:30 AM Mass in the church hall. Grades 4-6 took turns as the Host Class for this Mass and with giving lively Gospel Reactions. Dwindling K-6 enrollment and low attendance at this 10:30 AM Mass occasioned a restructuring of the REACH religious education program to its current format in 2013.
The current format preserves the strong connection of liturgy and classroom instruction, a hallmark of the REACH program, and marks a return to the format REACH had when housed on Sunday mornings from 1962-1989 at All Saints’ Catholic School, then known as Central Catholic High School. During the years of the separate REACH Grades 4-6 Mass in the church hall Florence and Dan Loch served ably as the 10:30 AM liturgists.