What is the Billerica Catholic Religious Education (BCRE) philosophy?
The BCRE philosophy is firmly founded on providing an environment in which our youth, teens, and families can fall in love with Jesus Christ and become His disciples! Recognizing that parents are the first teachers of their children in the ways of faith, we strive to provide a process in which all parents and guardians can become disciples of Jesus Christ, with a growing desire to attend Mass and joyfully participate in the Sacramental life of our parishes.
– We offer programs that complement and support what families are already doing together: attending Mass, praying together, and growing together in faith.
– We offer program schedules that give families the flexibility they need, with a frequency that we are able to support through volunteer and staff resources.
– We use Religious Education to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church throughout all of Billerica.
– Finally, we pray unceasingly that Jesus will guide us to further His mission here on earth.
Why this style of Youth Religious Education?
Many parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Boston and throughout the United States are evaluating the effectiveness of their faith formation programs. Do existing programs help children and families build a firm foundation of Catholic teaching? Do existing programs lead more families to attend Mass? Is there a growing desire to receive the Eucharist each week? Some parishes have even stopped religious education altogether. In 2015-16, we revised our existing programs and began a collaborative religious education model to respond to these questions.
The Archdiocese is challenging each collaborative to become Disciples In Mission and to focus our youth Religious Education on making disciples of our students and of their families. A disciple is someone who studies their faith, and who prays and reads Scripture every day. They speak about their faith and their God with others. They seek to know God’s call in their lives. Disciples share the Good News because they have Good News to share!
During our inaugural year, we evaluated the new program and made several adjustments to the 2016-2017 program based on feedback from our parents’ survey, Coordinator feedback, and input from our Pastoral Leadership. Succeeding programs have been similar, however we continue to make adjustments each year based on feedback and our experience. We welcome your ideas, comments, and concerns.
BCRE Program Overview
Billerica Catholic Religious Education serves St. Andrew, St. Mary, and St. Theresa parishes – the Catholic Community of Billerica – with one program that is repeated at each parish.
- There is one curriculum, presented in one style, regardless of where and when each class is held. Students and their parents/guardians may register for and attend any session in any classroom in Billerica, regardless of which home parish they regularly attend Mass.
- Each student will receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Eucharist and Confirmation in their home parish, unless they choose otherwise.
- We teach individual grades in groups – Grades 1-2 together (Young Disciples), 3-4-5 together (Explorers), and 6-7-8 together (Navigators). High School (Confirmation) grades are taught separately.
- The Church teaches us that parents are the primary teachers of the faith for their children. Since one of our goals is to engage parents/guardians in their children’s faith experience, we require that a Grade 1-5 parent/guardian attend each session with their child. Accommodations will be made for parents/guardians with children in multiple elementary grade groupings.
- We offer multiple class times on Sundays and weekdays to meet our families’ needs. Elementary (Grades 1-5) classes are 75 minutes long; Navigators (Grades 6-8) and High School (Confirmation) are 90 minutes long. There will be 15 sessions/classes for each grouping.
- Your family may switch your session days from time-to-time during the year to allow for illness or other scheduling conflicts, by calling the Religious Education office at 978.667.3733. Switching may be limited due to class size limitations. Your family is allowed up to 3 session time switches per child per year.
- Each Grade (1-High School) meets approximately every 2 weeks, sometimes longer due to some holidays and school vacations. Grades 1-5 alternate weeks with Grades 6-10. This leads to approximately 15 classes per school year for each child. Families are able to download the session calendar after they receive their registration confirmation by email.
- Grades 1-2 and 3-4-5 use the same style of age-appropriate teaching and same curriculum. This style uses interactive lessons, augmented with crafts and activities.
- Our target class size for Grades 1-2 and 3-4-5 will be 16 students with their parents/guardians to assist in their child’s learning. Each child is provided materials to use in class and at home.
- Grades 6-7-8 use the same teaching style as High School– a group (20-50 students) presentation interwoven with small group (8-10 students) table activities or discussions. There are volunteer Small Group Leaders at each table.
- Grades 6-7-8 use the Pflaum Visions curriculum and High School/Confirmation use the Chosen series from Ascension Press.
- The entire 2-year High School curriculum focuses on Confirmation. High School classes will meet on Sundays, either before or after Mass.
- Please note: the class capacity for the BCRE program is highly dependent on the number of volunteers who assist as Catechists (Teachers), Classroom Aides, Small Group Leaders, and Presenters. After the available capacity is filled, families will be directed to Home School and placed on a waiting list until sufficient volunteers come forward.
There is one Coordinator of Religious Education (CRE) for Young Disciples (Grades 1-2), one CRE for Explorers (Grades 3-4-5), one CRE for Navigators (Grades 6-7-8) and one CRE for High School (Confirmation). There is an additional CRE for the Home Study program, and additional CRE for First Reconciliation / First Eucharist preparation. Each CRE serves across Billerica (in all three parishes).
Our Grade 1-5 Coordinators will each teach/present some of the classes in each session cycle. In Grades 6-HS, our Coordinators will act as a session Presenter / Facilitator and will be supported by other Presenters / Facilitators and Small Group Leaders for the activities and discussion.
Several volunteer opportunities exist to help with BCRE as Catechists (Teachers), Classroom Aides, Small Group Leaders, Presenters, Hall Monitors, Classroom preparation, and Material Preparation / Office Help. Registration discounts, for parents of students in our programs, are available for several volunteer roles.
Click here to download a PDF Volunteer Information Form that you may print and return to us.
The BCRE Team may be reached at 978.667.3733 or by stopping into the Billerica Catholic Religious Education Office, located behind St. Theresa Church in Billerica Center.
The Catholic Community of Billerica began collaborative Religious Education in the fall of 2015 provide the best possible faith formation experience for our Catholic families of St. Andrew, St. Mary, and St. Theresa parishes. By working together, we better use our staff, volunteer, and financial resources. Collaborative Religious Education has also served to unite the families of the three parishes into a common mission of bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church to all of Billerica.
Practically speaking, since the same faith formation program content is given at different sites, at different times, on different days, it allows families flexibility in participating in Religious Education. Our Billerica Catholic families may register for religious education at any of our parishes, even if different from their home parish.