Children's Formation

St. Michael’s Families with Young Children

Certainly, one of the main focuses of St. Michael’s Children’s Ministries is Sunday Church School, but there are many other opportunities for children and families at our parish.
•             Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and The Bridge
•             Summer Children's Sunday School
•             Little Angels Christian Preschool
•             Special Services
•             Children’s Choir
•             Service Over Self for Fourth and Fifth Graders
•             First or Solemn Communion Preparation
Sundays at St. Michael’s
We invite you to join us on Sunday mornings for worship with your children at the 10:00 am service.  Children gather together in the Sunday School classrooms (Atrium) located on the lower level of the church.  When children arrive, a social time will start their morning, followed by instruction which is in connection with the liturgical calendar.  Church School continues until approximately 10:40 am, which at that time the children are brought upstairs to join their parents in the nave for Communion and the end of the Service. 
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
St. Michael’s uses the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd approach for Sunday Church School.  Catechesis is not a program or a curriculum, but it has been described as a way of experiencing God with children.  The child, particularly the religious life of the child, is central to the interest and commitment of the catechist (teacher) of the Good Shepherd.  The catechist prepares an environment called the Atrium which aids the development of the religious life.  The Atrium is a place of prayer, in which work and study spontaneously become meditation, contemplation and prayer.  The Atrium is a place in which the only Teacher is Christ.  The themes presented in the Atrium are those to which the children have responded with depth and joy.  These themes are taken from the Bible and the liturgy (prayers and sacraments) as the fundamental sources for creating and sustaining Christian life at every developmental stage and, in particular, for illuminating and nourishing the child in his/her most vital religious needs.
There are two levels in the Catechesis:
       Level I — age 3 years through kindergarten
       Level II — first through third grades
The Bridge
Beginning in the fall of 2013, we introduced a new program for our fourth and fifth graders.  This program was developed in-house and is loosely based around the liturgical calendar.  The program consists of six modules, and each module is roughly six to eight Sundays in length.  Modules are written to allow the fourth and fifth graders to participate more fully in worship/liturgy, the community of faith, and to take some initiative in the substance and form that their own religious education/formation will take.  Within each program module there are specific component activities that make up the whole. The modules are:
•             The Plan of God and My Place In It
•             Advent and Christmas
•             Old Testament
•             Lent
•             The Sacraments
•             Exploring Personal Ministry
The Bridge is a community of faith.  Attendance will be an important component to BUILDING this community.  That being said, however, the modules and module components have been created to account for the busy lives families lead today.  Children who are absent will be able to fully integrate into the sessions upon their return without feeling lost or uncomfortable.
Nursery care is available for younger children during the 10:00 am service.  The nursery is located downstairs.
Children's Summer Church School
During the summer months, Memorial Day through Labor Day, children attend Children's Summer Church School. Children ages 3 years through third grade attend, and fourth and fifth graders are invited to attend as helpers. Children meet in the Community Room, where a teacher guides them through the morning’s prayers and activities.  Adult leaders enrich this time with artistic, dramatic and faith-sharing activities, maintaining the spirit of liturgical celebration.  The children are accompanied back to the sanctuary in time for Communion.
Nursery care is also available during the 10:00 a.m. summer service for younger children.
Special Services for Families
During the year we have services scheduled especially to allow families to worship and enjoy together.  They include:
•             First Sunday in Advent Multi-generational Celebration in the Community Room
•             Advent Pageant in December
•             Christmas Eve Services at 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. - especially for families
•             Ash Wednesday Service – Family Liturgy with imposition of ashes
•             First Sunday in Lent Preparation - multi-generational event
            “Walk through Holy Week” at the Good Friday’s children’s service
Children’s Choir
The Children's Choir is always looking for new voices.  Interested young singers are encouraged to join at any time.
S.O.S. (Service Over Self)
We observed that we tended to "lose" children as they transitioned from elementary school to junior high.  There are obviously many reasons for this such as, participation in demanding sports programs and competing school, family and social priorities.  In an effort to lessen the frequency of this happening and to prepare children for what they will experience as they move on to the Junior High Ministry, we created S.O.S.  We will have 3 events in the current program year for the fourth and fifth graders, and one "transitional" event for the fifth graders with the Junior High.
First or Solemn Communion
During the season of Epiphany we prepare third graders to celebrate their First or Solemn Communion.  This is a six week period of preparation during which we carefully look at the Sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation and the Eucharist with children.  The children respond according to their desire for the sacrament and their personal maturity, which is discerned with the help of the family and the teachers.

Learn more about Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.