We, the parish family of Saint JosephChurch, are brothers and sisters in Christ.Under the Guidance of the Holy Spirit and through the nourishment of the sacraments, we are called to love and serve in His name.We will promote the kingdom of God to all, through education, witness, service and worship, by giving our time, talents and tithes.
“Above all, in the Christian family, inspired by the grace and responsibility of the sacrament of Matrimony, children should be taught to worship God and love their neighbor in accordance with their faith…Parents should appreciate how important a role a truly Christian family plays in the life and progress of the whole people of God.”(Vatican II, Gravissimum Educationis, 3)
Congratulations!You have selected a Roman Catholic Religious Education Program for your child.This program teaches the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, upholds current documents, including the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and trains catechists utilizing Diocesan programs.All catechists and aides will participate in ongoing education during the summer months with our parish clergy and Religious Education staff in order to provide our parish youth with a cohesive and sequential program of religious instruction.The faith, knowledge, and experience of our catechetical team will be invaluable in achieving our Catholic educational goals for our parish children.It is our intent to provide each child the knowledge of their Faith that will guide and inspire them while growing spiritually, morally and faithfully in the Catholic tradition.
In order to provide an environment in which our students can best learn the beliefs and traditions of our Roman Catholic community this handbook is provided to each family with children enrolled in the program.Our Religious Education Program carefully and conscientiously follows the Elementary Educational Guidelines for Religious Education set forth by the Diocese of Metuchen.Please take the time to read over this handbook and familiarize yourselves and your children with our programs and policies.After you have done so, please sign the Covenant Agreement found in this book and forward this and your full registration paperwork to the Office of Religious Education.
We are enthusiastically looking forward to a wonderful year.We pray for God’s blessings on you and your families.Thank you for the joy and the opportunity to join you in God’s work.
Texts: Saint Joseph Religious Education uses the Diocesan approved Benzinger program: Christ Jesus, the Way and Benzinger Family Life.These programs adhere to the guidelines set for by the Diocesan Office of Religious Education and is in compliance with the Elementary Educational Guidelines (WISDOM).Each class member and catechist is provided age and grade appropriate text.The text is used in the classroom and should accompany the child when attending class.Lost books can be replaced at a cost of $25.00.
Curriculum:Catechists meet with the program director, the pastor and other catechists of the same grade level during the summer months and the academic year in order to plan lessons and assure that each student in provided a full Catholic education at each grade level.The academic year consists of 28 to 32 classes.Catholic beliefs, sacred tradition, Scripture, and faith in our lives are stressed as the underlying goal to every lesson.
Sequence:The text outlines the weekly themes for each grade level.The catechist will cover one chapter each week for 3 weeks in the text Christ Jesus, the Way.The fourth week will be the Benzinger Family Life text.
The Benzinger Family Life Program is interwoven with the regular lessons as they are presented over the months as indicated.
Personal Growth and Self-Understanding…………………………………September
Respect for Life……………………………………………………………January
Catholic Christian Sexuality………………………Grades 5,6,7,8……….March
Attendance at Weekly Sunday Mass:mass attendance is an essential part of every person’s spiritual formation.No child enrolled in the Saint Joseph Religious Education Program is exempt from weekly Mass attendance.The weekly classes offer an academic instruction in the Catholic faith.The Mass is living practice of the faith.Participation in the Mass brings the child’s religious instruction to life.Without participation, religious study is abstract and seems meaningless to the child.Mass attendance will be considered as part of a student’s disposition toward reception of the Sacraments and will be evaluated as a key factor in the Pastor’s decision to admit anyone to the Sacraments.
Reconciliation:The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be offered on a regular basis during Religious Education classes to those enrolled in grades 3 through 8.
Homework:The catechists will assign homework on a continuing basis.Each student is responsible for the completion of these assignments by the next scheduled class unless otherwise indicated by the catechist.Parents should go over with their child the “Family “section of each lesson in the text as the child progresses through the program.Assignments should be reviewed by the parent prior to submission to the catechist or office.
Service Hours:Witnessing faith through service is part of the Saint Joseph Religious Education Program.While all students and their families are asked to witness the gospel through a Christian life and Christian experience every day, service hours are only required of those preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation (see Confirmation I & Confirmation II outlines).The service hours required for Confirmation and Grade 7 (Confirmation I- 12 hours) and Grade 8 (Confirmation II- 12 hours).All service should fulfill a need in other’s lives.Community service for Confirmation may be accomplished through established charitable organizations whose philosophy is in keeping with Catholic beliefs.
Evaluation:At the end of each Religious Education grade, a final test will be administered to students.The test will cover material learned during the year.Students are expected to achieve a passing grade in order to move on to the next level.A mid-year test is administered the last week before Christmas recess.This test is used to evaluate the students’ successful progression in the Religious Education program.
Progress Reports:Progress Reports will be distributed in January and before the close of the Religious Education classes. The exact dates are printed in the yearly calendar.
Sacramental Policy & Programs
Reception of the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Eucharist and Confirmation entail two years in a formal preparation program as mandated by the Diocese of Metuchen.Immediate preparation for the sacraments consists of a separate program that is offered to students who have received and progressed satisfactorily within their initial preparation in the parish Religious Education Programs.The sacramental programs have separate handbooks which delineate the two year process.Eligible students are expected to participate jointly in all the immediate parish preparatory activities.
This includes parent formation sessions on the particular sacrament being received
Classes sessions for eligible students
Day of Recollection
Group Service Projects
All requirements for reception of First Reconciliation, First Eucharist and Confirmation are handled at mandatory parent meetings.A separate meeting for each of these sacraments will be scheduled and families enrolling in these programs will be notified.
For all Sacraments the following is required:
Valid Baptismal Certificate (with Church Seal)
Two consecutive years of instruction (with no more than 3 absences in each year)
Completion of textbooks, special requirements and service projects in both years
First Reconciliation:Immediate preparation for reception of the sacrament takes place in the first semester of the second level of instruction.
First Eucharist:Immediate preparation for the sacrament will take place in the second semester of the second level of instruction.
Confirmation:The Sacrament of Confirmation for children of catechetical age is conferred upon those who have been baptized, received the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist, have been instructed in their faith, have completed a two year program of preparation, and demonstrated a capacity and willingness to participate in the life of the Church as judged by the Parish Catechetical Leader and the pastor.
For all students in Sacramental Programs:If it is determined that a student cannot profess knowledge of their faith and is not regularly participating in the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church, a program of extended preparation will be offered before reception of First Reconciliation, First Eucharist or Confirmation.
The First Year of Preparation:Confirmation I (7th Grade)
A student must regularly attend Mass.
A student should have met all program requirements as outlined in the Confirmation I Preparation Handbook.
A student may have no more than 3 absences during the instructional year.
A written test will be administered at the end of the first year.A student must receive a passing grade and have completed all the first requirements of study in text and service.
A student should receive the recommendation of their catechist and the Parish Catechetical Leader in order to proceed as a candidate.
If it is determined that a student cannot profess knowledge of their faith and is not regularly participating in the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church, a program of extended preparation will be offered before the student is accepted as a candidate.
The Second Year of Preparation:Confirmation II (8th Grade)
Candidates and their parents must sign the Confirmation Contract.
Candidates must fulfill all the requirements of the Confirmation Contract.
Candidates must attend Mass on a regular basis.
Candidates must complete all required assignments in their instructional program.
Candidates may have no more than 3 absences during the instructional year.
Candidates and their sponsors must attend the required Sponsor’s Meeting.
Candidates must complete all community service by March 31.
Candidates must receive a passing grade on tests administered.
Candidates must be interviewed prior to Confirmation.
Candidates must attend a Day of Recollection.
Candidates must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation prior to receiving Confirmation.
Candidates will attend all rehearsals for Confirmation.
Every candidate MUST have a sponsor.Ideally a sponsor is someone who already has been involved in the spiritual formation of the candidate.Whenever possible, the Baptismal sponsor should be chosen.A sponsor can be anyone who is 14 years of age and is fully initiated in the Catholic Church.A sponsor needs to be an active, practicing Catholic in good standing with the Church.A sponsor need not be of the same gender as the candidate.Every sponsor will obtain, from their own parish, a certificate of eligibility with the signature of their pastor and the Church’s seal by by the date announced in sponsor packet.
Name Selection:The baptismal name is the preferred name at the time of Confirmation.If you choose a new name, it must be the name of a recognized Saint of the Catholic Church.The name you choose may not be foreign to Christian sentiment.The name you choose need not be gender consistent.A two page written report will be required on the life of the saint chosen.
Every candidate has the right to postpone reception of the sacrament of Confirmation at their own request.A candidate who decides to postpone must do so by requesting a meeting with the Pastor, the Parish Catechetical Leader and his/her parents.
Enrollment & Fees
Religious Education Classes are offered (see calendar for classes):
4:30 – 5:30
Grades 1, 2 and 3
5:30 – 6:30
Grades 1, 2, 3 and 4
6:00 – 7:00
Grades 3, 4 and 5
7:00 – 8:00
Grades 4 and 5
7:15 – 8:30
Grades 6, 7, 8
7:00 – 8:15
Grades 6, 7 and 8
Class sizes are limited.Classes are assigned on a first come first served basis.
$175.00………..3 Children or more
Sacramental fees apply to those enrolled in Grade 2 ($50.00) and Grade 8 ($75.00).Sacramental fees are due 60 days prior to the reception of the sacrament.
No child will be refused Religious Education due to finances.If there is a financial hardship, please call 908-689-0058 to make an appointment to see the Pastor.
Records:A permanent record is kept on file in the Office of Religious Education.Parents are asked to update information each year, however, if phone numbers, email addressed or home addresses change at any time during the Religious Education year, please contact the Office of Religious Education, at 908-689-0093, immediately.This is absolutely necessary in the event of an emergency.The above holds true for emergency contact information as well.
Special Needs:If you are the parent of a child with special needs, please disclose those needs to us on the registration form.This category includes a child who has been classified with a learning disability, a medical condition, or is physically or mentally handicapped.This information will be considered confidential and will not be released to anyone except the person who signed the registration form.Health information will be kept confidential unless the parent authorizes the dissemination of medical information.A release form is available
Transfers:Any child transferring into the parish religious education program should, in writing, request the transfer of Religious Education records from their former parish educational program to Saint Joseph Religious Education.This is absolutely necessary when transferring into Sacramental programs.
It is the policy of the Diocese of Metuchen that every parish-based Religious Education program holds between 28 and 32 class sessions per year. This policy allows for only 3 absences per year.More than 3 unexcused absences will be cause for repetition of the current level of education (examples of excused absences might be a death in the family, illnesses, etc.)Sports or extracurricular activities do NOT fall into the category of excused absences.
Attendance:Taken at every catechetical session or special event that involves children or youth and accurate records are kept on file in the parish Religious Education Office.
Lateness:Every four times that a student is tardy will equal one absence.Classes will begin promptly on time.If you are late please ring the bell and accompany your child into the office.Do not drop off your child if he or she is late.The doors of the building are locked once class begins.
Absence Reporting: Please call the Office of Religious Education, at 908-689-0093, prior to the class session for which your child is registered.When the child returns to class he or she is required to bring in a written excuse from home.
Missed Class work:The class work missed is to accompany the child on their return date.The aide in the classroom will check the work and sign the lesson completed.There are no make-up classes.Please do not just show up at another class.Attendance will not be recorded for anyone who is not registered in that particular class.For safety reasons we cannot have students not registered for a particular class time in the building on days or times they are not scheduled to be there.
Once a child has been registered in a class, he or she will remain in that class for the entire year.
Inclement Weather:In the event of inclement weather we will follow the decision of the Washington Schools.If the schools are closed due to snow, ice, etc. then Religious Education will also be closed.In the event of an early dismissal for the local school district due to inclement weather, Religious Education classes will also be cancelled.If there is a delay in the mornings, Religious Education will proceed without changes.
Arrival:Children are to be accompanied by an adult at all times. Do not just drop off your child.The doors to the school will be closed and locked during class times.
Parents are to park in the East parking lot located at the rear of the church.
Parents are to escort their children to the safety-coned area in front of the entrance to the school building and remain with them until the school doors are opened.
Children are to enter the building in single-file five minutes prior to the start of class time.
Children are to report directly to their classroom upon entering the building.The catechist will be waiting at the classroom door.
Parents are to wait for the children in the safety-coned area in front of the school.Please do not stand in front of the school doors.
Each class will be dismissed one at a time by the catechist.
Please leave the safety-coned area immediately after you meet your child in order to facilitate arrival for the incoming classes.
Any child not picked up at the time of dismissal will be brought to the office and the parent and/or emergency contact person will be called.
The Parish Catechetical Leader/catechist will not send a student home with a driver who is visibly impaired.The program director reserves the right to call the emergency number.
Code of Behavior:Good order by students is expected in every program of Saint Joseph Religious Education.Our emphasis is placed on positive values rather than negative by all catechetical personnel.When violations do occur, each case will be dealt with patiently, with respect to the personal dignity of all involved.An incident report will be filed and a copy sent to parents.Consistent problems and reports may result in dismissal from the program after consultation with the parents, student, catechist, and Pastor.
Any form of disruptive behavior in class is not tolerated.This includes but is not limited to: incessant talking, inability to remain in a seat, not paying attention, sleeping, and/or not following directions.In other words, any conduct that prevents others from learning.
Gum chewing, consuming candy, food or beverages is not permitted in the building during class.
Damage or destruction of school, church, or another’s property is not tolerated.The parents or guardians of a student will be responsible for restitution fees if their child is in violation of this rule.
Foul or disrespectful language is discouraged at all times.
Toys, i-pods, and CD players are not permitted in the classroom environment.These will be taken to the office and a parent or guardian must retrieve them.
Cell-phones may not be used for calls or text messages.All cell phones are to be off and out of sight during Religious Education Classes.
Harassment/Bullying/Intimidation:The Diocese of Metuchen and the Parish of Saint Joseph maintain a policy of intolerance for harassment and bullying in accordance with the State of New Jersey Policies 149 and 729.A safe and civil environment in a school (church) is necessary for students to learn and achieve high academic standards; harassment, intimidation and bullying like other disruptive or violent behaviors, is conduct that disrupts both a student’s ability to learn a school or church’s ability to educate.
Harassment, intimidation or bullying means any gesture or written, verbal or physical act, that is reasonably perceived as being motivated by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or a mental, physical or sensory handicap, or by any other distinguishing characteristic, that takes place on school property, or at any church sponsored function.
Any student participating in these behaviors will be suspended and may eventually be expelled from the program after review by the Parish Catechetical Leader and the Pastor.
Drugs, Alcohol, Cigarettes:All students are forbidden to use, possess, or sell any controlled dangerous substance or alcohol.Any student found to be in violation of this policy will be reported to the drug enforcement officer of the Washington Police and the student will be suspended and may eventually be expelled from the Religious Education program.
Weapons:Under the law in the State of New Jersey, no one may knowingly have in their possession any firearms or deadly weapons without having an explainable, lawful purpose.We maintain a zero tolerance policy in the event that a student is found in possession of a weapon.
Child Abuse:New Jersey State Law requires any person who has “reasonable cause to believe that a child has been subjected to child abuse to report the same immediately to the Division of Youth and Family Services by telephone or otherwise” (N.J.S.A. 9:6-810. Seq.).The law imposes the obligation of notification on every person; it may not be delegated to another person.A report of suspected child abuse must be made prior to informing the Pastor or any other person.Under state law, child abuse includes but is not limited to sexual abuse and embraces any conduct or lack of action, which impairs or creates a substantial risk of impairing the physical, mental, or emotional condition of the child.
Fire Drills:Religious Education will hold two fire drills per year.The same procedure of the school is used.
Crisis Management:Lockdown and evacuation procedures established in the school building will be used.
The Saint Joseph Religious Education Office is located in the ParishCenter.
200 Carlton Avenue
The office of Religious Education's telephone number is 908-689-0093.