Religious Education

Director of Religious Education:

Dear St. Mary’s Families,

As a parish, we have decided that it is best to offer in-person PREP (Parish Religious Education Program) classes. We believe that this is the best method to teach the Faith to the children of our parish. With that being said, we will be offering a virtual option to join the in-person classes for those that do not feel comfortable in-person. Our virtual option will be offered via Zoom, likely during the in-person classes depending on the preference of the Catechist. Families have received a copy of our COVID-19 Handbook. Please request a copy from Nikki if needed.

Our in-person and most virtual classes will continue to be offered from 9:40-10:50 on Sunday mornings. Our first day of classes will be September 27. We will also now be offering a Sunday Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) session for our PreK and K students. CGS will not have a virtual option.

Here is the registration link…

Calendar (subject to change)             


Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

Children’s Choir
Director: Kristin Young, 717.391.0151

Our Mission
Who Should Attend
What We Expect of Parents
Sacramental Preparation
Dismissal Authorization
Student Drop Off



Welcome to the Religious Education program at St. Mary’s! We believe that parents are the primary educators of children in matters of faith. Our goal is to help them succeed in that role. Working under the norms and regulations of the Diocese of Harrisburg, we provide organized religious education during the school year for children from preschool through eighth grade. While our teachers instruct on the tenets of our religion, it is primarily through the Christian life parents lead at home and in the community that our Catholic faith will be passed on to our children. In addition to instruction, the Religious Education program is here to provide resources to parents so that they can teach their children the Catholic faith under the guidance and direction of our Bishop.

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Children who are 3-6 years of age are welcome to begin with Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.  These children meet on Thursday mornings from 9:30-11:00. First grade through eighth grade students of St. Mary’s families who are not enrolled in Catholic school or home-schooled based on a Catholic curriculum are asked to attend.

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Religious education class is not a substitute for Sunday Mass. Families are expected to attend Sunday Mass every week. The Sunday Liturgy provides crucial formation and catechesis that your child needs. In addition, the parish community needs you and your children to make our Eucharistic Liturgies a full communal event.

If Sunday Mass cannot be attended at St. Mary’s because of a schedule conflict, please consult the schedule of other Catholic churches in Lancaster, or if you are traveling, you can find a Mass to attend here. Attending Mass in other areas teaches your child how diverse the Church is while still worshiping with the same Liturgy.

Enrolling your child in Religious Education class will be more effective if attendance is consistent. Regular attendance at class helps children learn and become part of their class. Frequent absence makes it difficult for the child to grasp new concepts. Also, it prevents them from developing a sense of community and identity as a Catholic. Belonging to a community is central to what it means to be Catholic.

Classes begin the first weekend after Labor Day and end late April to early May. Sunday classes are held from 9:40 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. between the Masses. Parents are invited to join the Adult Formation Groups that meet at the same time. Students in grades seven and eight are invited to also attend Youth Group.

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First Holy Communion

First Reconciliation


Diocesan guidelines require students to attend two years of religious education prior to receiving the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist, and two years again, prior to receiving Confirmation.

First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion are celebrated in second grade. First Reconciliation takes place in February and First Holy Communion in late April or early May.

Confirmation is held during eighth grade or in the fall of ninth grade depending on the schedule from the bishop. Students prepare for this sacrament in seventh and eighth grades by studying the Sacraments, the laws of the church, and the teachings of Jesus. In particular, the Works of Mercy and Beatitudes are covered both in class and through the commitment each student makes to perform community and church service. Students also are required to meet Spiritual Formation Requirements. All students are expected to attend seventh and eighth grade Religious Education classes to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation unless they are enrolled in a Catholic school or home-schooled based on an approved Catholic curriculum.

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The complete, detailed listing of the Diocesan curriculum can be found on the Diocesan website. To assist in teaching the points on this curriculum, our parish uses Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for preschool and kindergarten, the WE BELIEVE  textbook series by Sadlier for grades first through sixth, and CHOSEN  is used in grade seventh and eighth. The WE BELIEVE  series has extensive support for parents, students and teachers on their website, which can be found at WE BELEIVE .

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Parents of pre-school through third-grade students are asked to come to the classroom door to pickup their child. If parents would like another adult to pick up their child at the classroom, please indicate so on the Student Dismissal Authorization Form. For all other students: If parents would like the child to be dismissed from the classroom to someone other than the parents or to meet at a location other than the classroom door, a Dismissal Authorization form must be completed and signed for each student to be dismissed. If a child does not have a Student Dismissal Authorization on file with the teacher, he or she will only be dismissed to the parents.

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Students are asked to enter the school building ONLY through the double doors that face the parking lot. Students not attending 8:30 a.m. Mass should wait with parent supervision until the catechist is in the classroom. Classes begin promptly at 9:40 a.m. Dismissal is at 10:50 a.m.

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