Faith and Ministry
A Faith-based Education
Religion is taught in every grade as an academic subject, and all students have an opportunity to learn about the Catholic faith, and deepen their relationship with God. Together as a school, we participate in a weekly liturgy, and Holy Days of Obligation, with the students working together to plan the readings and music for the liturgies under the guidance of their teachers.
The school day begins and ends with school-wide prayer led by the Principal and Student Prayer Leaders. Students are taught the traditional prayers of the Roman Catholic Church which are used so as to unify the school faith community.
Students pray at the beginning of classes and before and after lunch. Within the individual classes, especially religion classes, students are encouraged to include spontaneous prayer and prayers for particular intentions.
VIRTUE OF THE MONTH
Following the tradition of Saint Alphonsus, patron of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the students focus on a Virtue each month. They learn practices to implement this virtue. Each class coordinates a project during the year to demonstrate a specific virtue in action. At Saint Catharine of Siena, faith is something we DO.
All students in our Catholic school receive religious instruction on a daily basis. The religion text used is the Loyola Program which is approved by the diocese and adheres to the Four Pillars of the Catholic Catechism. Teachers follow the Allentown Diocesan guidelines for Religious Instruction and Essential Learnings in Religion, published by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to insure continuity and faithfulness to Church teachings.
Teachers of Religion are required to have their Catechetical Certificate from the Diocese of Allentown and to update their certification according to diocesan regulations. Each year our faculty members participate in a retreat to grow in their relationship to God and to deepen their spirituality. In addition, individual teachers take part in diocesan retreats offered throughout the year.
Our parish priests instruct the students through their weekly homily at Mass. One of the parish priests visits the school weekly and instructs seventh and eighth grade students once a week.
Each Friday the student body gathers for Mass which is celebrated by our Pastor or one of our Parish Priests. Classes are assigned to be prayer leaders for the weekly Mass. The students have the opportunity to be Lector, Reader of General Intercessions, or to bring the Gifts to the Altar for the Offertory. On the first Friday of each month, the students who are members of Siena Singers (Choir) or Siena Ringers (Bell Choir), enhance our celebration of the liturgy. In addition, students participate at Mass for Holy Days of Obligation that occur on school days, such as All Saints Day (Nov. 1), the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8), and Ascension Thursday (40 days after Easter). The students participate in an annual retreat during the Lenten Season. All of our students are encouraged to join in worship with their families each Sunday with the Saint Catharine of Siena Parish Community.
During the year students have the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Penance (Confession), usually during the Liturgical Seasons of Advent and Lent. The Pastor arranges to have several priests available for the children after one of the Friday Masses.
Since the reception of the Sacraments is a part of the Parish Worshiping Community, the immediate preparation falls under the jurisdiction of the Director of Religious Education for the Parish.
FIRST PENANCE AND FIRST HOLY EUCHARIST
The students in Grade Two prepare for the Sacraments of Penance (Reconciliation) and Holy Eucharist. Classroom instruction is provided by the classroom teacher. Parent meetings and reception of the Sacrament is guided by the Parish Director of Religious Instruction. A day of retreat for the children occurs shortly before the day of First Holy Communion.
The students in Grade Seven begin remote preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation while the students in Grade Eight continue immediate preparation for this Sacrament. Students in these grades receive specific questions from the Bishop to be memorized and are required to complete service hours and a journal. In addition they are asked to attend Sunday Mass and write a reflection on each week’s Scripture readings and homily.
As a faith community striving to follow Jesus’ commands to live the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, students are encouraged to give service hours in compassion for those in need. Throughout the year, students contribute to monetary collections for the poor and those less fortunate. They support the Catholic Relief Services and the Diocesan Mission Collections. In addition, students support community outreach such as the Thanksgiving Food Drive for St. Joseph’s Food Pantry, Red Cross Christmas Family Gifts, a Mission Fair and Lenten Boxes for Holy Childhood, and Pennies for Pasta.
OTHER CATHOLIC TRADITIONS
During the month of October and May, teachers emphasize the role of the Blessed Mother in the plan of salvation. Children learn how to pray the Rosary and meditate on the Mysteries of the Rosary as a means of growing closer to Christ. During Advent, the children learn about God’s Plan of Salvation through the use of the Advent Wreath.
During Lent, the students experience the Way of the Cross through their prayer and re-enactment of the Living Stations.
All children, regardless of their denomination, are expected to take in-school religion classes and to attend Mass with the student body each Friday. Non-Catholic students are welcome but not required to participate in religious celebrations outside of school hours.