Each year our 5th and 8th grade students take the ACRE (Assessment of Catechesis / Religious Education) test near the end of the school year. Based on the test findings, strengths and weaknesses in our religious education program are evaluated, and adjustments are made to the curriculum as needed.
Adoration of the Holy Eucharist is scheduled once or twice a year as possible (Covid protocols currently allowing).
Community Service Opportunities
Every student is challenged to engage in age-appropriate service work throughout the academic year. Annually, the school participates in several parish and community service opportunities (collecting money for specific needs; collecting food, blankets, personal hygiene items and clothes for distribution through the parish or other Church and community outreach programs; etc.). [Suspended during Covid]
The Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation is scheduled for 3rd - 8th graders as possible. Students receive preparation for the sacrament in their religion class before the celebration of the sacrament.
The Sacred Liturgy is celebrated every week on Friday or on Holy Days of Obligation. We also celebrate different liturgical feasts and celebrations, either with special school liturgies or with school gatherings in the gym (i.e., May Crowning, Catholic Schools Week, All Saints/All Souls, saint feast days, etc.). Special attention is given to feasts of Mary and to the liturgical seasons.
Every class has two opportunities per year to choose volunteers to assist at Holy Mass in the following service roles: lectors, ushers, intention readers, gift bearers, and (for older students) altar servers. Students receive liturgical formation to fulfill these roles before they serve. The formation time is facilitated by 7th - 8th grade members of the Worship Committee (under the guidance of the Campus Minister and/or religion teacher). Students from 4th grade and up can also train to function as altar servers, both for the school and for the parish, while students in 6th grade and up can serve in the liturgical choir.
Every non-Mass day begins with Morning Prayer in the gymnasium for all students. Each week a different class is assigned to lead morning prayer, and the teacher and students take time in religion class to plan for their morning prayer time. The Campus Minister and the Worship Committee facilitate special prayers as well.
Adult faith formation sessions are scheduled on an as-needed basis, either for ongoing religious formation or for specific reasons (i.e., gatherings for parents of children celebrating First Eucharist or First Penance).
Every morning at Morning Assembly students hear a monthly theme that reinforces our Catholic background by promoting character development. Stories, quotes and thought-provoking questions help each student reflect on what it means to be a follower of Jesus on a daily basis. Reflections are teacher and student-led.
Every student receives time in religious instruction. Kinder students participate in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (as part of their Montessori education). 1st - 6th grade students use the Blest Are We Faith in Action series by RCL Benzinger while Junior High students use the We Live Our Faith program by Sadlier as their primary textbooks. All religion classes are taught according to Diocesan guidelines for curriculum content in addition to their primary text. Students in grades 4-7 also incorporate RCL Benzinger's Family Life supplements, while 8th grade uses Theology of the Body for Teens (Middle School Edition), sexuality catechesis programs that focuses on the relational, moral and religious dimensions of human friendship, love and sexuality, as well as the physical and emotional changes occurring in the transition from childhood to adolescence. Traditional Catholic prayers and liturgical prayers are learned and re-taught every year, while orthodox Catholic doctrine is reinforced in age-appropriate ways each year at OLSS.
Religion Teacher Formation
All religion teachers receive guidelines on helping their students celebrate Mass, setting up a classroom altar, following the liturgical calendar, and prayer formation guidelines for their students. Religion teachers are certified through a diocesan-sponsored process, and must regularly attend enrichment courses according to diocesan policy.
Every classroom and hallway has some tangible sign of our Catholic faith (posters, crucifixes, prayer tables, altars, posters, etc.). This helps foster the Catholic identity of the school in a way that is accessible to the developmental stages of our students.
Students in grades 2-8 are given at least one retreat opportunity per year. Second Grade always receives a retreat before they celebrate First Penance, 3rd grade before celebrating First Eucharist, 5th grade receives a vocation day at the Basilica, and 8th grade receives a retreat at the end of the year. [Suspended during Covid except for 8th grade]
Second Grade students participate in sacramental preparation for the celebration of First Penance; 3rd grade students prepare for their First Eucharist. Older students who have not received these sacraments are guided through their preparation by the Campus Minister.
Students in grades 7-8 are encouraged to join this extracurricular committee. The students are responsible for setting up the prayer table for morning prayer each day, assisting at Mass as needed, helping younger students to prepare for service at Mass, and assisting the Campus Minister in helping form the Catholic identity of the campus. Students are chosen at the end of the school year for service the following year.