The catechists involved in the Saint Thomas More Religious Education Program are adult members of our faith community. Many of our catechists are parents of students. All catechists participate in ongoing catechist training and formation sessions. Even those who are professional teachers participate in ongoing catechetical training. All of our catechists recognize that religion is not just another subject to be taught. So, they want to strengthen their own faith and catechetical skills and are very willing to participate in course training and formation. They faithfully participate in the annual diocesan Catechetical Sunday ceremonies, sacrament preparation training and other workshops offered by the Diocesan Religious Education Office.
PARISH RELIGIOUS EDUCATION PERSONNEL
COORDINATOR OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION – The Coordinator of the Parish Religious Education Program has responsibility for the efficient and effective running of a quality religious formation program for our children. The coordinator recruits new catechists. The Coordinator supervises the catechetical training for our catechists. The Coordinator will keep the catechists informed about catechist training opportunities. Records of completed course work will be kept on file in the Religious Education Office. All applications for maintaining current or new certification levels will be made from our office. Of course, all catechists are urged to keep their own record of courses taken and certification levels achieved. The Coordinator is accountable to the Pastor of St. Thomas More Parish and makes regular reports to the Parish Staff and Parish Pastoral Council.
CATECHIST TRAINING – The catechist is first and foremost called to be a teacher and a good Christian role model of the Catholic faith for his or her students. To insure that catechists are faithful and effective in their ministry it is necessary that they commit themselves to ongoing Christian formation themselves. They need to be informed and formed. They need to be skilled and confident. This is not a luxury. This is a necessity. Catechists are challenged to continue to grow in their understanding and practice of the Catholic faith. They need to deepen their faith and grow in their catechetical skills. They find much support in their ongoing development from the parish and diocesan religious education staff.
PARENT VOLUNTEERS – Catechists hunger for communication with the parents of the children. We always keep in mind that parents and caretakers are the first teachers in the ways of faith. Parents and caretakers can have a very positive and powerful catechetical influence on their children. They train in the religious faith by what they say and by what they do. The catechists want to involve as much as possible the parents of our children. On occasion catechists invite grandparents or other extended family members to come as guests or speakers.
CATECHIST APPRECIATION – St. Thomas More Parish sets a high priority on the support and encouragement of our catechists. All catechists are part of the annual Catechist Commissioning Service. This parish event is done each September in conjunction with the National Celebration of Catechetical Sunday. All catechetical training for our catechists and all the support materials are covered by the parish budget. The children of catechists are exempt from the basic religious education tuition and fees.
CATECHIST ABSENCES - When a catechist is in need of a substitute teacher, he/she is asked to call the office as soon as possible. In this way, we can work on finding a replacement as soon as possible. We have a list of people who graciously volunteer to step in and be a catechist for an evening. It is helpful to everyone when the catechist provides us with the assignment he/she wishes the substitute to cover with the class.
CLASSROOM SUPERVISION - To insure student safety and building security, catechists are asked to report to their classroom fifteen minutes before class begins. Catechists are also asked to be sure that all students have left at dismissal before catechists leave their classroom. Students should not be left unattended in the classroom at any time. Should an emergency occur requiring that the catechist leave his/her classroom, the catechist is asked to have his/her class join with another class until he/she can return.
CLASS CANCELLATIONS – When the Cherry Hill Public School System closes due to inclement weather or holidays, our Religious Education Program is also closed. In the case of inclement weather, the Religious Education Office will call the catechist and ask him/her to call their students. Announcements will be made at the Cherry Hill elementary schools as well as Beck and Rosa Middle Schools