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Argh! Sunday School/Faith Formation changes at my Parish


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#1 ktgrok

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 01:30 PM

So..we drive 20-25 minutes to a parish that has an excellent children's program. It is a big church, absolutely gorgeous, lots going on. They have traditionally offered "Sunday School" during the 10am Mass for ages 2-Kindy, then had Faith Formation classes on Wednesday evenings for grades 1-8. My kids LOVED Sunday School, and honestly, it gave me a bit of a break so I could focus on the Mass, or on whatever baby I had at the time. My 4 yr olds been asking every week when Sunday School will start again. I cannot express how much he was looking forward to it. He calls it his "school" and feels a sense of ownership, of having his own class that is something he goes to without mommy, without his sister, etc. He loves the crafts, stories, the whole thing. 

 

Well, I just found out that this year they are changing it.  Sunday School will be for 2 and 3 yr olds only. Kindergarteners will do Faith Formation during the week on Wednesday with the older kids. And NO CLASSES for the 4 year olds/prek!!!!  No one has an explanation for this, and I'm upset. Moreover my son is heartbroken. 

 

My first thought is to switch to the parish closer to me. It's only 5 minutes away, smaller, not as much going on, often hot inside as the A/C is old and the building is older,  but does have a pre-K faith formation class on wednesdays, at the same time as his sister's class. And the times I've visited recently I have LOVED the priest. So easy decision, right? Except I just logged onto their website, and the priest I loved is gone! New priest! Sigh. I guess that doesn't really matter. Still the right choice, right?

 

The only other option would be to try to see if our current church would let him in the Kindergarten class...his birthday is mid September, so he turns five just a few weeks after classes start. But I'm not sure that's the right choice. 

 

Thoughts? And please, don't turn this into a diatribe against Sunday School...my kids really get a lot out of it, it gives them a chance to make friends that share their faith (most of our friends are agnostics), and with homeschooling they like having a "school" to go to each week. 

 

Edited to add: They will have a Liturgy of the Word thing for kids in Pre-K through First Grade, during the 10am Mass. They will be called out early in the Mass and hear the readings at their level, and do an activity, then come back before Communion. I just don't know that this will fill his desire to have his own class. It is available year round though..we hadn't known about it as we'd been going to other Masses this summer, and before that it used to be kindergarten and up. I guess we will try it and see what he thinks before making a decision. Not this Sunday, as my daughter is being baptized after the noon mass this weekend, but the next week for sure. 

 


Edited by ktgrok, 17 July 2017 - 01:39 PM.

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#2 Margaret in CO

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 01:34 PM

I'd call him K--lots of districts have just-turned-5 Kers. 


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#3 marbel

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 01:38 PM

Aw, that stinks. My first (and only) thought is that the church is having trouble finding volunteers to teach the class.   That is a common problem.

 

I have done some stints as a SS teacher.  Honestly, I felt uncomfortable when we had age- or grade-based classes and people with kids outside the age or grade asked me to take their kid for whatever reason.  Exceptions just made things harder.   Sorry 'cause I know that's not what you wanted to hear.

 

Hope you find a good solution.  That's so hard when your kid is looking forward to something, and it's not available to them anymore.


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#4 vonfirmath

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 01:42 PM

I'm really surprised at a church having nothing for the 4 year old age.  Our church stopped having childcare at the 11am service for 5 year olds -- It used ot be through the end of K but they started getting too many kids in for the number of volunteers so dropped it back to birth-age 4 only.

 

BUT They still have Sunday School for all age groups. It is just the 11am service that they cut back at. (And they never had any classes for over 5 years old. If you want to come to that service, you bring your kids with you to the service)

 



#5 ktgrok

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 01:44 PM

Ok, so they will have a Liturgy of the Word thing for kids in Pre-K through First Grade, during the 10am Mass. They will be called out early in the Mass and hear the readings at their level, and do an activity, then come back before Communion. I just don't know that this will fill his desire to have his own class. It's a shorter time frame, and a big age spread, so not the same thing, and I don't see them being able to do the crafts and such. 

 



#6 musicianmom

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 01:49 PM

I'd call him K--lots of districts have just-turned-5 Kers.


I agree.

#7 lavender's green

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 01:51 PM

Oh, that stinks. It sounds like it was a great thing you had going for you. My (Orthodox) parish is unfortunately staunchly anti-Sunday school, but if I were in your position you can bet I'd fight tooth and nail to get it back.

 

I'd start with just talking with whoever is in charge of these things. They might not realize how valuable it is to young parents, or you might learn about the reason it's being dropped, like a lack of volunteers.

 

Is it acceptable to alternate which parish you attend each week, depending on your family's needs?

 

As a last resort, I'd carefully consider the family's needs and possibly move to the older, closer parish, if that's what it took to get them met.


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#8 ktgrok

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 02:46 PM

So, with the idea that more information is always good when deciding things, I've emailed to ask if he can be in the Kindy class. I'm also going to try to get to a Mass at the closer parish ASAP to see what I think of the new priest, and any changes that may have happened. And I need to get to one of the 10am masses at my own parish ASAP so my son can try the Liturgy of the Word thing and see if that will fulfill his desires (doubting it, but maybe). Then after I do all that, I will decide. 

 

I do wonder if this is just the final push to get me to the closer parish. It's less....fancy I guess? Certainly a different demographic economically. I hate the architecture, lol. But, the people have been nice and the liturgy well done when I've been there. Of course, who knows now, with a new priest. 

 

It certainly would be more convenient though. 



#9 scholastica

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 02:47 PM

You obviously have a priest who has decided that kids belong in Mass. I won't get into that debate ;). It's not going to change. I would spend the rest of the summer letting him go to Liturgy of the Word and see if that satisfies him. It just might. Then remind yourself of all the grace your children are receiving being in the Presence of the Eucharist during the second half of Mass. If it doesn't satisfy him, then try to get him in in the other parish. Or not. He's four, he'll get over it.

ETA: Do you have Catechesis of the Good Shepherd anywhere near you. If he wants a class, that's the way to go!

Edited by scholastica, 17 July 2017 - 02:48 PM.

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#10 Tibbie Dunbar

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 02:48 PM

I'm with Margaret, call him K (for two years in a row, if necessary)! It's too important to him, and what a stupid policy. I would assume you'll find he is not the only 4yo interloper...

#11 Tibbie Dunbar

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 02:49 PM

Oops, you've asked permission. Wouldn't have done that! :p

#12 ktgrok

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 02:59 PM

Oops, you've asked permission. Wouldn't have done that! :p

 

LOL, well, he's chatty so might have spilled the beans anyway. Plus thy probably have the records from when he was registered as a 3 yr old last year :) I'm not even sure it's the right way to go, as I hadn't planned on calling him Kindy for anything else, so having him out of age for this one activity might be weird. But we'll see what she says. 
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Edited by ktgrok, 17 July 2017 - 02:59 PM.

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#13 Tibbie Dunbar

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 03:00 PM

Maybe if they get a lot of such calls, they'll reconsider.

#14 ktgrok

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 03:02 PM

Just heard back...she said if I'm calling him Kindy for next year, then yes, register him for Kindy. But he'd have to go to the 1st grade class the following year, they cannot stay in the same level for two years. 

 

Hmmm. Do I have any reason NOT to call him kindergarten next year? He's bright, he's social (other than crying over stuff, he's sensitive). He already adds numbers in his head better than his 7 year old sister almost. He even figured out some multiplication. He knows about half the letter sounds, etc. And he tags along with his sister for history, etc. 

 

Only thing I can think of is his cousin is a week and a half older and will be in pre-K and we see her fairly often so yeah. 



#15 ktgrok

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 03:03 PM

You obviously have a priest who has decided that kids belong in Mass. I won't get into that debate ;). It's not going to change. I would spend the rest of the summer letting him go to Liturgy of the Word and see if that satisfies him. It just might. Then remind yourself of all the grace your children are receiving being in the Presence of the Eucharist during the second half of Mass. If it doesn't satisfy him, then try to get him in in the other parish. Or not. He's four, he'll get over it.

ETA: Do you have Catechesis of the Good Shepherd anywhere near you. If he wants a class, that's the way to go!

 

No, we don't :(
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#16 ktgrok

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 03:04 PM

Seems I need to check out the new priest at the closer parish, and decide if I want to switch them and me there, to be closer and keep him in Pre-K, or stay where we are at the further parish and put him in K. 



#17 Terabith

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 03:09 PM

Where are you located?  The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd website has an atrium finder, and there are three pages of locations in Florida.  I don't know why I can't paste any links here.  Doesn't mean that your city has any, but it's such, such a good program!


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#18 MommyLiberty5013

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 03:17 PM

If you love where you are despite this 4 year old issue for one year...maybe stick it out. I personally would be hesitant to pull the plug on a great church over something like this. Great churches, as you know, are hard to come by in decent driving distances.

 

I get that they are teaching SS and faith formation, but it seems a bit authoritarian to expressly state that a kid cannot repeat a class a second time due to his age. I raised an eyebrow when I read they told you that he could not repeat and be in the K's again to catch up. If you registered him for K again for the second year would they catch that or are there enough kids that he might get lost in the shuffle of registrations?


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#19 vonfirmath

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 03:18 PM

Just heard back...she said if I'm calling him Kindy for next year, then yes, register him for Kindy. But he'd have to go to the 1st grade class the following year, they cannot stay in the same level for two years. 

 

Hmmm. Do I have any reason NOT to call him kindergarten next year? He's bright, he's social (other than crying over stuff, he's sensitive). He already adds numbers in his head better than his 7 year old sister almost. He even figured out some multiplication. He knows about half the letter sounds, etc. And he tags along with his sister for history, etc. 

 

Only thing I can think of is his cousin is a week and a half older and will be in pre-K and we see her fairly often so yeah. 

 

So what do they do with a kid that is held back in school?

 

I know at our church we have kids that go to Kindergarten two years.  They stay in the 4-5 year class 3 years instead of 2. And because that class has 2 years--it is not as noticeable.


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#20 scholastica

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 04:04 PM

No, we don't :(

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That's too bad. We have an Atrium at our co-op. I will be eternally grateful to our teachers. My kids have gotten Atrium all the way up to age 12. There's nothing else like it.

#21 Terabith

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 04:08 PM

I loved it so much that I became trained as a 3-6 year old catechist.  My kids did it through age 12, although my youngest has refused to do her last year of the upper grades atrium.  (Our church makes kids who aren't 7 by Thanksgiving do a 4th year in the youngest age group atrium, so it goes through 7th grade for them.)  She just feels burned out on it, especially going to Catholic school till 3 and going directly to a two hour atrium after school.  But they learned SO MUCH!



#22 scholastica

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 04:09 PM

If you love where you are despite this 4 year old issue for one year...maybe stick it out. I personally would be hesitant to pull the plug on a great church over something like this. Great churches, as you know, are hard to come by in decent driving distances.

I get that they are teaching SS and faith formation, but it seems a bit authoritarian to expressly state that a kid cannot repeat a class a second time due to his age. I raised an eyebrow when I read they told you that he could not repeat and be in the K's again to catch up. If you registered him for K again for the second year would they catch that or are there enough kids that he might get lost in the shuffle of registrations?


It's likely that he will get the same exact material two years in a row. Like, the exact same book, with the exact same lessons. Usually a parish uses a curriculum much like the school system, the scope and sequence are laid out for K-8. This makes sure they get everything they need by the time they are confirmed in 8th grade. Sacrament prep makes a difference.

OP, unless you are really going to have him in K for school purposes, I wouldn't fudge on this, I would just let him know that things changed and it's just one more year. I would stay with the current parish, if it's otherwise a good fi.
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#23 chiguirre

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 04:13 PM

The parish I go to has the kids' Liturgy of the Word. Ours is for K-4 but it's a huge hit. Kids are eager to go and it gives them a measure of independence because they line up on their own and find their parents on their own at the end. I'd definitely give that a try.

 

I also agree about Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Trinqueta loved it when she was in preschool and the program is really well done.



#24 Tibbie Dunbar

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 04:18 PM

I'd send him as k and cross next year's bridge when you come to it. Whether you'll have to "hold him back" (and again, you wouldn't be the only one, probably, with a kid who failed to mature precisely on the church's schedule), or switch parishes then...it's a new policy, and a year is a long time. Mainly, though, a year is a long time in the life of a child. I'd let him go to Sunday school now, while it's most important to him.

#25 ktgrok

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 04:48 PM

I checked. The only Atrium near here is actually the Sunday School program for a local Episcopal Church. 


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#26 Daria

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 06:00 PM

If you love where you are despite this 4 year old issue for one year...maybe stick it out. I personally would be hesitant to pull the plug on a great church over something like this. Great churches, as you know, are hard to come by in decent driving distances.

 

I get that they are teaching SS and faith formation, but it seems a bit authoritarian to expressly state that a kid cannot repeat a class a second time due to his age. I raised an eyebrow when I read they told you that he could not repeat and be in the K's again to catch up. If you registered him for K again for the second year would they catch that or are there enough kids that he might get lost in the shuffle of registrations?

 

I don't think it's unreasonable to limit the Kindergarten class to Kindergartners  Churches put a great deal of their limited resources, both time and money, towards making sure that every kid gets certain experiences.  If some kids get the experience (in this case Kindergarten Faith Formation classes) twice, those resources will have to come from somewhere else.

 

I don't see this as the same situation as a parent who puts their child into a certain grade, and then needs to adjust because the child struggles.  Picking us up when we fall down is an important part of Christianity.  But, Katie's not in that situation. 

 

I also don't think it was wrong to ask.  Maybe the numbers for last year or this year would be such that they could absorb an extra kid, no problem.  But it's also possible that they've had 5 parents with almost 5 year olds ask, which would mean they'd need to add an extra class.  Since they may well have cut back due to a shortage of teachers, that would be a problem. It can also be an equity situation, because you'd end up with kids with certain birthdays getting 10 years of classes, while other kids get 9.  

 

So, I do think it's right to accept the limit.  In which case, I think a big question would be whether you think he'll be ready for the sacraments if he stays with this age group.  My preference is for kids to be in a position to understand as much as possible when they make their sacraments, especially confirmation, so I'd be hesitant to rush ahead.  You might feel differently.

 

Alternately, could you offer to put together something for the 4 year olds in the parish?  Maybe something where the parents take turns hosting/teaching?  


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#27 ktgrok

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 06:45 PM

The more I think about it, the more I think moving him to kindergarten isn't the best choice, partly because of things said about about confirmation age, etc. 

 

I think we will go ahead and try out the closer parish for a year. If we don't like it as well, we can move back the following year. But looking at their website they have lots of things going on, just on a smaller scale. And in all honesty, a 5 minute drive versus 25 minute drive is a big motivator for me. 


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#28 Terabith

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 08:45 PM

Honestly, atrium is so awesome that I would consider going to a Saturday evening mass and have him do atrium at the Episcopal church.  We did it in reverse.  We're Episcopalians who did ten  years of atrium through the Catholic parish. 



#29 ktgrok

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 08:55 PM

Honestly, atrium is so awesome that I would consider going to a Saturday evening mass and have him do atrium at the Episcopal church.  We did it in reverse.  We're Episcopalians who did ten  years of atrium through the Catholic parish. 

 

I'm fairly certain it is only for their own parishioners. I actually attended there for a short while before becoming Catholic :)



#30 reefgazer

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 10:39 AM

That's odd that kids that young wouldn't have a Sunday School.  I'm guessing they can't scare up the volunteers? 



#31 ktgrok

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 09:45 PM

I went and picked up the paperwork for the parish near me today. The lady at the parish office was very nice :)  So it looks like they will be in Mass with me on Sunday mornings, and then each attend their own faith formation class on Wednesday evening. They are excited :)

 

And I'm excited about not having to drive far. A bit intimidated about taking all three kids including the baby to Mass, but we'll manage. And the 4 yr old is young enough to stay home from time to time with Daddy. 


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#32 ktgrok

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 07:13 AM

Realized I should give the background on why I didn't start attending the closer parish in the first place. Basically, when we moved here I visited it and they had no kneelers, nor was there room to kneel if you wanted to. The pews were too close together to kneel on the floor, etc. And the priest had a very difficult to understand accent. Between those two things it wasn't where I wanted to be...I didn't want my kids growing up not knowing that Catholics generally kneel during the Mass, etc as a coworker of mine did. (when I mentioned the no kneelers to her she said she had no idea there was kneeling during Mass!). 

 

Fast forward several years and I visited again, on an Ash Wednesday I think, because I didn't have time to get to the parish further away. They had kneelers! There are still areas with chairs only, perhaps because they couldn't afford enough new pews or to accommodate those set in their ways and used to them, but the majority of the church now has pews with kneelers. And there was a new priest with the sweetest Irish accent (my husband called him Father Liam Neeson, lol). The new priest talked a lot about social justice in his homilies, which I loved. Since then I'd considered switching to this parish but didn't want to switch my kids who were happy in their programs, especially the 4 yr old who loved Sunday School. But since Sunday School isn't an option there anymore, might as well try switching. 

 

Not sure how I'll feel about the new priest, but it's worth checking out. 



#33 brehon

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 07:21 AM

Rabbit trail moment as I sit drinking my morning joe - when my brother and I were young we'd go to Mass with our grandparents when we visited them. I remember an old Irish priest always "Givin' tanks to God."

<sigh - happy memories>
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