Throughout the year, the entire school gathers in the school gym for prayer services. Led by the faculty or grade level students and our school choir, the student body prays together at a Spirit Day Assembly once each month. Each Monday of Advent, students gather in the gym around the large school Advent wreath for a service, lighting a new candle each week. After returning from Christmas break, we celebrate the feast of Epiphany in the same way. During Lent, the fourth, sixth, and eighth graders prepare the Stations of the Cross and lead prayers for the entire student body. Special Lenten Prayer Services are also held in the gym for the entire school community with the faculty or the eighth graders serving as prayer leaders.
Each school year special days are celebrated with all school prayer services, many times led by the faculty. We have held prayer services to honor Mary, The Right to Life, Veterans, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Abraham Lincoln, as well as prayer services for world peace, victims of war, and natural disasters, and Thanksgiving. During Catholic Schools Week we pray the Living Rosary in Church and have other prayerful services throughout this special week.
Penance Services for the students are held twice a year, during Advent and Lent. After an examination of conscience, the entire student body prays the Act of Contrition, after which they receive the sacrament. Students bring rosaries and Bibles with them so that they can pray quietly as they wait their turn. Many faculty members also take advantage of this opportunity for grace.
On the first Wednesday of May, the students participate in the May Crowning. The eighth graders process in and each girl places a carnation in one of the vases in front of the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the statue that is kept in the school office. The service is led by eighth grade students and the student body participates by responding to the prayers and joining in the singing. Mary is crowned during the service and after the service is finished, the statue and the flowers are returned to the school office where Mary, crowned as queen, is displayed throughout the month.
On that same day, the eighth grade class at our school mass, receive green and white graduation ribbons to be worn until graduation day. Once again, the soon to be graduates receive a blessing from all those present for mass that day.
Realizing that a religion curriculum is more than just learning information from a textbook, we place great emphasis on participating at mass by responding to the prayers, singing, and volunteering to be servers, lectors, gift bearers, and song leaders when it is the students’ class mass. We strive to develop within the students the importance of forming the habit of prayer by attention and reverence when we pray together as a student body at the beginning and ending of the school day and other occasions when we come together for prayer during assemblies. We will also take advantage of sharing with the students the rich tradition that is ours by telling the stories of particular saints on their feast days and talking about the religious art that is found on the school walls. In 2016-‘17, we adopted the Ignatius Press Image of God series, for students in grades K-5. Each student has his/her own textbook. We chose this series because of its spiral curriculum. The units, based on the four pillars of the Catechism (Faith, Worship, Life, and Prayer) are developed in an age appropriate manner; and each unit ends with a section on Catholic social teaching. These sections promote caring for the earth that God has given us and the wise use of our resources. The illustrations throughout the book show people from around the world, both able and disabled. Additionally, each year includes information about the liturgical seasons, prayers, mass, and the Bible.
Each year, students’ knowledge is assessed by using the ACRE test in grades five and eight. Previous results show that the weaker areas for the fifth graders improve greatly when students are tested in the eighth grade.
Our students also do a variety of projects to help them understand our faith. Some of these projects are: reports of the saints, the Ten Commandments, Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy, the Beatitudes, Station of the Cross booklets, journals, Respect Life posters, and Confirmation booklets. During November, each class uses a Book of the Dead to remember those members of their families who have gone to their eternal rest. We also write these names down on cards we carry to the altar during our all-school liturgy Wednesday Mass of Remembrance.
Thanks to one of our graduating classes, we have a plaque on the second floor that lists that particular class’s favorite caring messages.
Our anti-bullying program that is used in all of the grades contains themes and information that fit into the ideas that are taught in religion class. As a Catholic school, we are able to incorporate religious beliefs and practices in all areas of the curriculum.
Catholic second graders receive the sacrament of First Reconciliation usually during Lent at Christ the King Church. As part of the restored order of sacraments, which was implemented in the 2018-19 school year, our third graders receive the sacraments of Confirmation and First Eucharist, during Mass with the Bishop of our Diocese in Springfield, IL. This takes place at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on a Tuesday evening together with their CTK classmates and families.
Preparation for reception of First Reconciliation, Confirmation and First Communion, begins with a group meeting of parents and the pastor. At the meeting, the importance of these sacraments is discussed and questions are answered. The second and third graders prepare for the reception of their sacraments by working through the activities in their religion book and using a series of pamphlets that have activities for the student and their family. In preparation for Reconciliation, students practice going to confession in the classroom and in the confessional at church. Parents are invited to their child's first confession usually during a school day during Lent. In preparation for Confirmation and First Communion, each 3rd grade child makes a First Communion/Confirmation banner that is displayed in Christ the King Church. They practice receiving the sacraments in the church with their teachers giving them an unconsecrated communion wafer.
For 8th graders already Confirmed with the Holy Spirit, we have a special retreat. The students use the Chosen series and DVDs and work through all of the lessons. Their retreat day includes prayer, reflection, mass, and receiving surprise letters from their family members. These letters allow family members the opportunity to express to the child their hopes and aspirations for them. It is the highlight of the day, an emotional moment for many of them. Occasionally we attend the retreat off campus. We have used the Villa Maria and the Chiara Center in the past. We have also used our beautiful Parish Center, Roesch Hall. This takes place during the school day during the 8th grade year when the Chosen lessons are completed and they are preparing to graduate.