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Faith Formation

As stated in Saint Joseph School philosophy, we continually strive to be witnesses of the teaching ministry of the Catholic Church to the children of the parish. We recognize and believe that we are here to help the parents pass  on their Catholic Faith. A very strong goal of our pastor, priests, administration, teachers, and staff is to lay the foundation of proclaiming and promoting Christ’s message to the whole child. The first of our core values is Formed in Faith. In order to assist our students to become good, practicing Catholics and missionary disciples of Christ we give great attention to the child’s spiritual formation. Children of other faith denominations are also welcome to SJS and they will be asked to participate in religion classes and activities.

Students attend Mass twice a week, once a week being an all-school Mass. Holy days of obligation and other special feasts are observed with a Mass. The children’s lectionary is used for daily Mass for grades K-3. All students have the opportunity to participate at Mass as cantors, lectors, servers, or gift-bearers. A children’s choir practices weekly and sings every-other Sunday at the 10 am Mass. Students who have received the Sacrament of Reconciliation participate in the sacrament during the first semester and during Lent, and more often if requested.

Our priests teach religion at least once a week in the classes. Our seminarians teach religion to classes on a daily basis. Four women religious, Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, serve in administration and as part of the faculty and staff.

Liturgical and para-liturgical events are planned throughout the academic year.
September—Mothers' Mass: celebrated on the birthday of Mary; every student invites his/her mother to this special Mass, where she receives a blessing.
October—Grandparents' Mass: grandparents attend Mass and are treated to a performance honoring them. The rosary or a decade of the rosary is prayed together once a week.
November—Thanksgiving Mass: celebrated just before the holiday; students bring canned goods and other items, which are donated to: our own Sr. Christine’s Food Pantry.
December—Advent Prayer Service-every Monday during Advent, the entire school family gathers to ceremoniously light a candle on the Advent wreath. Fourth-graders also host a shower for Baby Jesus, in which baby items given by the students to the Christ Child are donated to a homeless pregnancy shelter.
January—Respect Life Mass: celebrated on or near the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children, along with Respect Life prayers and activities throughout the week. Eighth-grade students are allowed to attend the March for Life in Washington, DC with the St. Joseph Parish group.
February/March—Ash Wednesday/Lent: all students attend Mass on Ash Wednesday and grades 2-8 receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Lent. Stations of the Cross are prayed by individual classes, and the 5th graders perform a Living Stations of the Cross during Holy Week, once for the entire student body, and once in the evening for parents and parishioners.
March—Dads' Mass: celebrated on or around the Feast of St. Joseph, husband of Mary; all students’ dads are invited to 8 am Mass, followed by a special fathers' blessing.
April—Easter: students are encouraged to participate in prayer, fasting, and almsgiving during Lent, culminating in donating their monetary collections to Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl, or to other foreign missions. 
May—May Crowning Ceremony: one 8th grade girl and one 8th grade boy are chosen to crown the Blessed Virgin Mary in a formal May Crowning prayer service.

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Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
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Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) began at Saint Joseph School early in 2022 with the Junior Kindergarten students. CSG is a Montessori-based religious program through which children grow in their faith and personal relationships with God. It also helps them participate more fully in Mass. The entire program has three levels serving children from three to twelve years of age. The presentations take place in a sacred space called the atrium, located next to the faculty room. Each child has forty-five minutes in the atrium once a week in small groups of approximately eight to ten children. The atrium is not a classroom but a place for the children to feel God’s loave and presence. The articles in the environment are child-sized and directly related to the presentations and works of the program. 

The activities in the CGS program were determined by catechists that spent many hours observing children and what aspects of the faith they were drawn to at various ages. In our level I atrium, the children learn about and experience prayer and use the Bible, LED candle, statues, and prayer cards at the prayer table for their own personal prayer. They hear the Kingdom of God parables. For the Precious Pearl parable, the children move the wooden figure of the merchant through his house as they recall and reflect on what was read to them from the Bible. In the articles of the Mass and altar area, the children use the articles of the Mass to prepare the model altar for Mass. The children learn about the geography of Israel by using a raised surface map or a wooden puzzle of Israel. During the Advent and Christmas seasons, they move clay figures as they recall stories from the Bible about the infancy narratives. The Paschal Mystery is brought to life during the Lenten and Easter seasons when they are able to put the clay figures around the model table for the last supper and open the model of Jesus’ tomb to see where His body was before He rose from the dead. The children learn about Baptism, feel the water, and smell the oils used for baptism. They learn about Jesus as the Good Shepherd as they move the wooden figures and recall the story that was read to them and eventually come to the realization of what it really means. 

The first several weeks of the program are designed to introduce the children to the atrium and how they are to move about and handle the materials. They work with what is called the practical life part of the program. These activities focus on skills that require careful movement of water, pebbles, beads, and clothespins from one place to another. They practice folding, plant care, and hand washing. These activities prepare the children for later works that will require pouring water and wine, folding cloth that is used at the altar, and moving fragile clay figures.