Peace and every blessing!
Thank you for registering your child in our Parish Religious Education Program (PREP). This handbook is designed to provide an overview of our religious education program.
PREP classes are vital to the complete religious education of your child. However, they are not meant to be the sole provider of your child’s faith formation. Rather, they are intended to support and supplement the religious formation you are already giving your child at home, and the experience of joining our parish community for the celebration of the Mass and sacraments.
Consistent with this approach, this handbook describes our administrative and curriculum policies. It is our hope that it will give you an understanding of our program and encourage you to actively participate.
Together we will grow as a community of believers.
Together in Christ,
Fr. JM Manolo A. Punzalan
Director, Parish Religious Education Program (PREP)
Purpose and Use of this Handbook
This handbook has been prepared for the benefit of all who participate in the Religious Education Program at Immaculate Conception Church. It exists to foster the efficient operation of this program by providing pertinent information. In appropriate circumstances, the Director of Religious Education (DRE) has the discretion to take actions other than those specified in the handbook.
This handbook is subject to change at any time when determined to be necessary by the Director of Religious Education. If changes are made to the handbook, parents will be notified promptly.
Our Parish Religious Education Program is structured to provide catechetical instruction and knowledge of Catholic practices and rituals to all our children.
Parents, by word and example, are the primary teacher of their children and teach them from birth through their entire life. At Baptism, the parent undertakes the responsibility of providing for their child’s faith formation.
The Religious Education staff, catechists and aides are here to assist parents in the spiritual formation and ongoing moral development of their child through a formal program of continuous religious education.
In our program, we seek to provide the catechesis and skills for each child to grow and mature in understanding, positive attitudes, and faithful practice of the Catholic faith.
Through the process of catechetical instruction and participation in Catholic rituals, we hope to deepen the faith and sense of belonging to the Catholic Church in our children, so they will be moved to share their time, talent and treasure in the life of the church now and for the rest of their lives. We strive to assist children in committing themselves to a personal relationship with God, characterized by a vigorous sacramental life, a lifelong pattern of prayer, Christian service, and growth in understanding the catholic faith.
To this end, the Parish Religious Education program seeks to provide children with opportunities for Church visits, Mass, confession, and other catholic rituals such as the rosary, stations of the cross, and benediction. This process is achieved with the joint efforts of our religious education staff, catechists, aides, parents and students.
Committed to this active partnership, we place our efforts with confidence in God’s loving hands.
By enrolling your child(ren) in the Religious Education Program at Immaculate Conception Church, parents are expected to participate with their child(ren) in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Sundays as well as Holy Days of Obligation. Parents are also expected to participate in the sacramental life of the Church (specifically Reconciliation and Eucharist) and to include your children in these sacramental celebrations as the children are eligible to participate in them.
Weekly Mass and Confession Schedule
All students in our Parish Religious Education Program are expected to participate in Sunday Mass. Religious Education classes cannot and do not substitute for the Sunday liturgy. The commitment to attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation is especially important in the years in which a child is preparing to receive a sacrament.
Saturday evening: 5:30 PM (4:30 PM –Fall-Winter)
Sunday morning: 7:30 AM, 9:00 AM, 10:30 AM, 12:00 PM
Holy Days of Obligation: As announced in the parish bulletin or check website for any changes
Holy Days of Obligation:
Jan. 1—Mary, Mother of God
Ascension Thursday – 40 days after Easter
Aug. 15—Assumption of Mary,
Nov. 1—All Saints Day
Dec. 8—Immaculate Conception
Saturday afternoons –4:30 / 3:30 PM (Fall-Winter)
Please check the bulletin for additional times during Advent and Lent.
Registration, Tuition and Sacrament Fees
Registration forms for returning families are mailed in May.
It is recommended and necessary that all forms be returned as soon as possible or no later than the due date so that the correct number of books, materials and class sizes can be adequately determined.
Upon initially registering for the program, you must provide a baptismal certificate for your child(ren). If your child(ren) was baptized at Immaculate Conception Church, this is not required.
If you are transferring from another religious education program or catholic school, please provide the necessary documentation from the previous parish such as copy of permanent record card, dates of sacraments, etc.
Special Needs policy
Children with special learning needs are welcomed and included in our programs. Parents are asked to indicate their child’s special needs on the registration form so that the needs of your child may be met and any additional help or materials needed in the classroom can be obtained. Any information provided by the parents is held in strict confidence by the staff and your child’s catechist.
Tuition and Fees
The current tuition for the 2018-2019 school year is as follows:
1 child $110 per child for the first 2 children
3rd child and more $90 per child
(all 2nd and 9th graders)
Confirmation 9th gr $50
Eucharist and Penance 2ndgr $40
Important sacramental information is mailed out to all families. This information contains important dates. Please transfer all important dates to your home calendar once you receive it.
In order to prepare to receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Eucharist or Confirmation, the following requirements need to be met:
The child must be baptized and have a baptismal certificate on file in the Religious Education Office (not necessary if baptized at Immaculate Conception Church).
The child must participate in the Religious Education Program for two (2) consecutive years.
Students must have a basic understanding of the course content and knowledge of the Catholic faith
Families need to attend Mass every Saturday evening / Sunday.
First Reconciliation and First Eucharist (2nd Grade)
Parents need to attend the Parent Meeting for the Sacrament.
Parent and Child need to attend the following:
Blessing of the Candidate Mass
Parent- Child 1st Communion Practice
Confirmation ( 9th Grade )
Parents need to attend the Parent Meeting for the Sacrament.
Parent and Child need to attend the Blessing of the Candidate Mass.
Child needs to attend the Confirmation Retreat.
Child and Sponsor need to attend the Sponsor Practice.
Confirmation is usually administered in Easter Season of the 9th grade year.
September through May
Sunday mornings – 9:00 to 10:15 a.m.
Regular attendance in Religious Education classes is mandatory for students to move to the next level.
No more than 3 absences are permissible. After 3 absences, a letter will be sent home from the Religious Education Office notifying the parent of the number of absences. All missed work should be obtained from the child’s catechists.
Excessive absences of 6 or more may result in the child not moving to the next level.
If your child is absent please call the Religious Education Office and then contact the child’s teacher for any missed assignments / work.
Consistent attendance during sacrament preparation years is essential for your child to be ready to receive Reconciliation, Eucharist or Confirmation.
Arrival and Dismissal Procedures
We expect students to be on time for class each week. Parents should refrain from dropping off the students too early since we do not permit students in the classroom without the Catechist being present. Students should also be picked up on time.
All parents are to park their car in either the main church parking lot and walk their child(ren) to their classroom. Absolutely NO children are permitted to be dropped off just in the parking lot and walk alone to the classroom.
All children must be picked up by a parent or designated adult. They must be picked up in their classrooms. This applies to all children in grades K-9. Older siblings will be allowed to go down to their younger sibling’s classroom just prior to dismissal. The same applies to those who are part of a carpool. A note must be sent to your child(ren)’s catechist letting him/her know what room your child will be going down to for dismissal. If someone other than the carpool person or parent is going to pick up the child, please send a note to the catechist. If a child must leave early from class, please send a note to the catechist.
All these procedures are put into place to insure the safety of your child. We appreciate your cooperation in this matter.
Student Textbooks and Required Materials
Every student enrolled in our Parish Religious Education Program will receive a grade level student textbook. If a student loses their book, a new book must be purchased and the amount will be charged to the parents. We encourage parents to review the material from the textbook that is taught each week.
Every student is required to bring the following material to class each week: pen and / or pencil, copy book, folder, crayons, glue, and scissors.
Please be sure your child’s name is in their textbook as well as on all their supplies.
Protecting God’s Children Certification
The Immaculate Conception Church Religious Education Program leadership are committed to the wellbeing of those who are served by the Church. The People of God have a right to be able to trust those who minister to them in God's name. The violation of this trust through any sexual abuse by Church or School Personnel is a source of great pain, for those involved and for the entire Church community.
We will make every reasonable effort to prevent sexual abuse, and to respond promptly to all allegations of abuse where there is a reasonable belief that abuse has occurred. We will comply with all obligations of civil and canon law. ICC will promote healing where it is needed, provide education, training and guidance when it is appropriate, and endeavor to prevent any sexual abuse of minors with firm justice and mercy towards all.
Care will always be taken to protect the rights of all parties involved, particularly those of the person claiming to have been sexually abused and the person against whom the charge has been made. When the accusation has been proved to be unfounded, every step possible will be taken to restore the good name of the person falsely accused.
To meet the directives of the Archdiocese of Newark, ALL volunteers and paid staff in contact with children in a prolonged manner or on a regular basis MUST undergo a background check, and attend a “Protecting God’s Children” training session.
Authorization for use of photograph / video / image
It is the policy of Immaculate Conception Church to have parental consent for any photographs that might be taken of your child or children on behalf of ICC. By way of illustration, photographs could be taken of participants in service, attendees at a parish event, or attendees at parish liturgies.
We also ask to consider if you want to give consent to identify anyone who might appear in any photograph to which you have consented. You can consent to taking and use of photographs and withhold your consent identification.
Since this is the digital age, a photograph means any image (still or in motion) on any medium and photographs may include voice recordings that may be attached to or detached from images. Your consent includes:
using a reproducing photographs in any format
publishing photographs in any media, including print, broadcast, ICC webpage, electronic or digital media in any format for promotional purposes including recruitment and fund-raising efforts or general publication.
publishing or using any statement made or recorded.
Any photograph taken will remain the property of ICC and ICC will have the right to use the photograph now or in the future in any way it chooses without payment of any fee or royalty. You acknowledge that photographs will be taken without charge to you and you release ICC and its employees and agents from any claims or liability arising out of or related to taking, using or publishing photographs or statements.
Once authorization is granted us, you understand and agree that this authorization shall be irrevocable for a period of one year from the date of signing, and shall continue in effect after that time unless specifically revoked in writing.
Authorization letter shall be signed by the parents as you register your child(ren). The signed authorization will remain in your child(ren)’s file.
All students are to come to class dressed appropriately. Casual clothing is permitted. Absolutely NO short shorts, t-shirts with inappropriate pictures or wording, flip flops or “heely” sneakers. No hats or caps are to be worn indoors.
Conduct, Discipline and Building Usage
The Parish Religious Education Program offered by Immaculate Conception Church is designed to assist parents with the faith formation of their children, as well as foster values and behaviors that are in accord with the Catholic Church teachings. The program has NO TOLERANCE for behaviors that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals, including but not limited to ongoing acts of obstinacy, improper language, fighting, physical, emotional and psychological intimidation, vandalism, demeaning behaviors such as name calling, obscene language or gestures, and harassment.
These categories do not cover every possible situation. The DRE determines what is appropriate or inappropriate behavior, both in and out of the classroom, in the school community and generally outside the school community where such improper behavior affects the school community.
Conduct by children or parents / guardians, or anyone acting on their behalf, incompatible with the educational and religious mission of the parish is grounds for disciplinary action, including but not limited to immediate dismissal of the student, as well as reporting the incident to the appropriate legal authorities where appropriate.
Student Code of Conduct
Students must always act appropriately. They must always show respect to all their brothers and sisters in Christ. The list of our brothers and sisters in Christ includes, but is not limited to: priests, catechists, aides, parish staff, religious education office staff, other volunteers, fellow students and parishioners.
Lack of respect toward persons or property or irresponsibility will not be tolerated. Students are expected to maintain this standard of behavior.
No student may enter a classroom without the supervision of a Catechist or aide.
No running at any time, especially in the hallways and stairs.
No shouting or profane language.
Chewing gum is not permitted.
Students should not travel the building alone.
No student will write on any school or student property or destroy or take another student’s property.
All students will maintain self-control in not touching or hitting another student or adult.
Every person is worthy of being treated with care and the respect fitting one made in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, classroom behavior needs to be characterized by genuine Christian care, mutual respect and honesty.
Disruptive behavior prevents learning for the whole class and can be frustrating for the catechists and other students. Because of the limited time students spend in the Religious Education classrooms every week, catechists understand that students stay in the classroom. Lack of self-discipline during class will be addressed promptly. In the event that a child causes a disturbance that a catechist is unable to resolve, the following steps will be taken.
If the inappropriate behavior does not improve the following procedure will be followed.
Verbal correction by the catechist.
If the behavior persists, the catechist will contact the parent.
If the behavior still continues, the student will be sent to the Religious Education Office and we talk with the DRE or Administrative Assistant. The PREP staff member will talk with the child, listening to what the child also has to say. The child may be asked to write a formal letter of apology.
If all these methods have not improved the student’s behavior, a parent will be required to come to class with the student.
A student will be removed from the classroom immediately and parents will be notified promptly for any of the following violations:
Drugs, alcohol or substance abuse.
Verbal or physical harassment
Stealing or damaging parish property
Jeopardizing another person’s safety.
The pastor will be notified if any of the above circumstances occur.
We realize that devices such as cell phones have become a necessary tool in keeping communications open with children, especially for working parents.
However, it is the policy of this program that cell phones may not be used during catechetical sessions. Phones may be kept in their school bags only or to be collected by the catechist before class and to be returned to them before dismissal.
Building Usage Rules
It is the responsibility of the catechist along with the support and cooperation of the parents to enforce the following building usage rules.
Students are not to touch items found in the classrooms.
Students are NEVER allowed to write on school / parish property, i.e. desks, books, bathroom walls, etc. These are serious offenses and will not be tolerated.
Communication with Parents
All communication with parents will be done via e-mail and/or phone call. Please be sure that we have a current and correct e-mail and phone number on file. If either should change, please contact our office immediately.
Since most communication will come through e-mail, please be sure to check your e-mail on a regular basis. For any family that does not have a computer, you will receive a phone call to inform you of any pertinent information.
Registration information, Sacrament information, and a yearly calendar will be mailed home.
It is sometimes necessary to cancel Religious Education classes due to inclement weather or in case of emergency closings or an unforeseen circumstance when classes would need to be cancelled, you will receive an email and/or a phone call. Please visit the parish website or your emails for PREP classes cancellations.
Yearly PREP Calendar
A yearly calendar will be distributed to families. Please be sure to mark your calendar with these dates. A copy of the calendar will be posted on Immaculate Conception Church website under Religious Education.
Parish Website with Link to Religious Education Program
We now have a link for our PREP program on the parish website. All pertinent information will also be posted on the site. The parish website is www.iccmahwah.org Go to the link on the right side for Religious Education.
Parish Staff and Contact Information
Rev. Fr. JM Manolo A. Punzalan, Pastor
Josephine Balsamo, Office Manager
Susan Murken, PREP Aide
Parish Office – 201-327-1276